Why Do We Need to Pray? How Can We Enter Into True Prayer?
By Kexin, South Korea
Praying is an important part of everyday life for Christians. But do you know why Christians need to pray and how to enter into true prayer? Let us look for the answers together in Sister Kexin’s experiences …
Why Christians Need to Pray
At one meeting, several sisters were happily fellowshiping their individual experiences and understandings over the past few days, while Kexin was sitting to one side in a very low mood.
Looking at Kexin, Sister Lin said considerately: “Sister, if you have any difficulties or bad states, please open up and talk to us about them; let’s seek the truth together to resolve it.”
Hearing that, Kexin let out a sigh and said to everyone in confusion: “It has been over a month since I began to attend meetings, but I still don’t know how to pray, nor do I know where to start when praying. I try to imitate your prayers, but I can only imitate one or two words in a halting way. These days I’ve been thinking about how to pray so that my prayers can be like yours that are fluently expressed, well-spoken, and long. For this reason, I’ve prepared the content of my prayer in advance at home and I’ve read it every day and recited it by heart. However, when praying today, I could remember nothing and failed to speak fluently. It is really disappointing. Oh! It’s so difficult to pray well.”
After listening to Kexin, Sister Lin smiled and said: “Sister Kexin, that you focus on parroting others’ words and emulating the external practices actually shows that you don’t understand the significance of prayer. Sister, do you know why we Christians need to pray to God?”
Hearing the question, Kexin thought and thought but couldn’t answer. She just remembered when she attended services at the church, she always heard the pastor pray to God for a very long time asking for grace, peace and other things. At that time, she considered praying as a formality of religious services. But she really didn’t know why Christians need to pray.
Smiling, Sister Lin said to everyone: “Sisters, the truth regarding prayer is very important. This relates to whether we can gain the work of the Holy Spirit and establish a normal relationship with God. How about we read some of God’s words about prayer?”
Everyone smiled and nodded, and Kexin also looked forward to the following fellowship.
Sister Lin continued: “As to why we need to pray to God, God’s words say: ‘Though to kneel down to pray is to talk with God from the heart, know this: People’s prayers are also conduits for the Holy Spirit’s work. While a person in a correct state prays and seeks, the Holy Spirit, too, is at work. This is a good coordination between God and man from two different perspectives, or else it can be said that God helps man resolve some of their issues, and this is a kind of cooperation when people come before God. It is also one of the ways God saves and cleanses people, and, beyond that, it is the path of normal life entry. It is not a ritual.’ ‘After God created mankind and granted them spirits, He enjoined them that if they did not call out to Him, then they would not be able to connect with His Spirit and, thus, the “satellite television” from heaven would be impossible to receive on earth. When God is no longer in people’s spirits, there is an empty seat left for other things, and Satan thus seizes the opportunity to get in. When people contact God with their hearts, Satan immediately panics and rushes to escape. Through mankind’s cries, God gives them what they need, but He does not at first “reside” within them. He simply gives them constant aid because of their cries, and from that internal strength people gain hardiness, so that Satan dares not come in to “play” at its will. So, if people continuously connect with God’s Spirit, Satan does not dare to come and cause disruptions. Without Satan’s disruptions, all people’s lives are normal, and God then has the opportunity to work unhindered within them. As such, what God wants to do can be achieved through humans.’
“From God’s words, we understand that praying to God is not a religious ceremony or a rule. Rather, it is the most direct way for us believers to build a normal relationship with God and is a path to progress in life. By praying and drawing near to God, we’ll be able to obtain the work of the Holy Spirit and the enlightenment and guidance of God. We’ll also be able to understand God’s will and requirements through God’s words or in things that befall us, find a path of practice, live by God’s words and grow up in life. Besides, since we humans have been so deeply corrupted by Satan and have no place for God in our hearts, if we don’t pray, we are cutting off our relationship with God. This way, Satan will seize the opportunity to get to us and occupy our hearts. It will use various evil ways or give us bad thoughts to disturb and tempt us so that our spiritual state will be abnormal — our spirit will descend into a pit of negativity and our thoughts will be mixed up. We will be unable to quiet down before God and will be unwilling to read and practice God’s words, thus becoming more and more distant from God. This is why God asks us to pray to Him more. When we pray sincerely to God, He will be with us and be our help at need, and will enlighten us so that we will understand the truth, discern Satan’s tricks and have the strength to overcome its temptations. At the same time we will also gain God’s protection and won’t be captured by Satan. Moreover, the more we pray to God and draw near to God, the closer our relationship with God will become. With God ruling within our hearts, Satan will not dare to disturb and tempt us at its will. Then, we will be able to frequently live before God, experience God’s work in a normal, positive state, and witness more wondrous deeds of God. Accordingly, our knowledge of God, our faith and love for God will gradually increase. We’ll more easily understand the truth and grow up in life. This is all the result of genuinely praying to God.”
Kexin nodded and said: “Thank God! It turns out praying is so important. Before, I thought that praying was just a formality of religious services. Only through fellowshiping God’s words today do I know that praying is the path for establishing a normal relationship with God. In the past, not knowing why we needed to pray, I always wanted to pray for a long time and speak fluently like you do, and so I began to imitate you. However, not only could I not remember the content of prayer while praying, but I also had no enjoyment in my heart after praying and couldn’t feel God’s guidance. Now I see that I just imitated your external practices but didn’t understand the significance of prayer at all. From now on, I must take heed to enter into the truth of prayer.”
What It Means to Truly Pray
Sister Lin went on: “You just said that, you had paid special attention to saying pleasant words and speaking fluently in your prayer, and thought that this kind of prayer delighted God. In fact, this is also because you don’t know what it means to truly pray or the path of practice to enter into true prayer. God’s words have told us about all this. Who would like to read these passages of God’s words?”
“I would,” said the sister next to Kexin. She then read: “What is true prayer? It is telling God what is in your heart, communing with God as you grasp His will, communicating with God through His words, feeling especially close to God, sensing He is there before you, and believing you have something to say to Him. Your heart feels filled with light and you feel how lovable God is. You feel especially inspired, and listening to you brings gratification to your brothers and sisters. They will feel that the words you speak are the words within their hearts, the words they wish to say, as though your words were a substitute for their own. This is what true prayer is.” “The minimum that God requires of man is that man be able to open his heart to Him. If man gives his true heart to God and speaks what is truly in his heart, then God is willing to work in him. What God desires is not the twisted heart of man, but a pure and honest heart. If man does not speak from his heart to God, then God will not move his heart or work in him. Therefore, the crux of prayer is to speak to God from your heart, telling Him your shortcomings or rebellious disposition, laying yourself completely open before Him; only then will God be interested in your prayers, or else He will hide His face from you.”
Pondering over God’s words, Kexin said thoughtfully: “What God wants are true and sincere prayers made from our hearts. Praying has nothing to do with how much we say, or how nice-sounding, flamboyant or fancy our words are. Reflecting on how I made an effort to recite prayers but failed to speak them fluently while praying, I think this is because I didn’t openly speak to God from my heart.”
Hearing Kexin speak of knowing herself, Sister Lin nodded and said: “It’s true. That you have this level of understanding is entirely thanks to God’s guidance. God’s words tell us that true prayer is telling God what is in our hearts, speaking honestly and being open to God about our troubles, true states and deficiencies. Even if we can say only one sentence in prayer, as long as it is spoken from our hearts, God will listen to it and the Holy Spirit will enlighten and move us. This is similar to the interaction between children and their parents. If children simply and openly tell their parents about the problems and difficulties they encounter and confide in them, then their parents will provide for them and help them according to their shortcomings. Likewise, if we open our hearts to God when praying and tell Him about our real states and difficulties, and God sees that we genuinely pray and seek, then God will enlighten us in what we ask of Him and we will receive His guidance and help. For example, when we have an urge to lie or cheat for the sake of protecting our own interests, we can pray like this: ‘Oh God, I can’t stop myself from lying as soon as something involves my own interests. I’m unable to achieve the simplicity and honesty of a child. Please lead me and help me so that I can practice Your words and be an honest person to satisfy You.’ When we pray like this — telling God about our true difficulties and making a resolution to Him — God will guide us to forsake our deceitful disposition bit by bit. But if we don’t pray in this way but echo others’ words, even if we speak fluently and say flowery words, God will not hear our prayers. Others’ prayers show their true praises to God, because they’ve gained true knowledge of God through experiencing God’s work. Yet we haven’t had that aspect of experience and knowledge, and if we parrot their words, it is just praising God with our mouths and is cheating God. Thus God won’t lead us and so our prayers will be dry and insipid and there’s no enjoyment in our hearts. In addition, the Lord Jesus says: ‘God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth’ (John 4:24). As can be seen, God is faithful and likes simple, honest people, so God wants us to worship Him with a pure heart and an honest attitude. God doesn’t mind whether our prayers are well-spoken, fancy, or fluently expressed. As long as our hearts open up to God and we speak sincerely to Him, regardless of how much we say, God will cherish and hear our prayers. So, we don’t need to seek to say splendid language or imitate others but only need to practice speaking to God sincerely. This way, we will unconsciously feel that it’s not hard to pray. And our relationship with God will become closer.”
As Kexin listened to Sister Lin’s fellowship, she kept nodding her head.
Another sister then began to fellowship: “Right now we don’t pray like we did before in the church, we don’t ask for grace or peace, and don’t give empty praises or say flowery words to fawn on God. Instead, we speak to God truthfully from the heart, pray to God and seek about our states and actual difficulties of our everyday lives, and pray in accordance with God’s actual intentions and requirements. Such prayers will be heard by God. For instance, sometimes when we’re unable to precisely understand God’s will after we read a passage of God’s words or we want to understand more truths in these words, we can pray and seek out God’s enlightenment and guidance so that we can understand the true meaning of these words. When we meet with difficulties in performing our duties, when we are unable to get along well with others in our daily lives, or when we encounter thorny problems at work, we can open up our hearts, tell God of our real states and difficulties, ask God to lead us to learn lessons in these circumstances, seek to understand God’s will and seek the truth we should enter into. Especially in the last days, while God is doing the work of judgment and chastisement in order to purify and change our corrupt satanic dispositions and bring us into a beautiful destination, if we pray to God in line with His will and requirements, ask Him to lead us to understand our corrupt dispositions even more deeply in His work and truly repent, then such prayers will be even more heard by God. Because what we ask of God is just what He is to do, God will provide for us and enlighten us according to our prayers. We will gain from our experiences more knowledge of our corrupt dispositions, shortcomings and deficiencies and will see how deeply corrupted we are by Satan and that we are not liked by God. This will make us willing to practice the truth and cast off our corrupt dispositions, and live out a true human likeness to glorify God. This is the effect achieved by truly praying and interacting with God.”
After hearing the sisters’ fellowship, Kexin’s face beamed with a smile and she said happily: “Thank God, I’ve taken to heart the God’s words you’ve read and what you’ve fellowshiped. In the past, I was always envious that your prayers were genuine, moving and fluently expressed, and so I wanted to imitate you. Now I know that, because you all spoke the words of your hearts, you gained God’s enlightenment and guidance and thus spoke plentiful words to God, and because I spoke what I had prepared in advance, and was just going through the motions and cheating God and had no true prayer, God didn’t hear me at all. I also know that when we pray to God, we must open our hearts to God, speak sincerely and truthfully to God, bring our real states and practical difficulties before God, and seek from God and communicate with Him about them. Regardless of how much we can say or whether we are fluent in prayer, as long as we speak from the heart according to God’s requirements, God will like our prayers. I will no longer seek to make flowery prayers but will practice speaking the words within my heart to God.”
Seeing that Kexin had understood the truth about prayer and that her difficulty had been resolved, everyone else offered up a prayer of thanks to God. Kexin also prayed: “God, before I thought that praying was a religious ritual, that prayers should be made in every meeting, but I didn’t know the importance of prayer or how to pray. Hearing other sisters speak fluently and say a lot, I became envious and began to imitate them. Only after reading Your words today do I understand that true prayer is speaking honestly from the heart. If I have only one word to say, I’ll say one word. I’m willing to change my wrong attitude and practices in my prayer. May You lead me to learn how to pray and speak the words in my heart to You. Amen!”
After prayer, Kexin’s heart felt very at peace and free from anxiety and she felt she was very close to God. Having gained so much from this meeting, she was full of gratitude and praise for God.
Appreciating the Importance of Prayer
After practicing praying for a while, Kexin had one experience and through that experience she truly appreciated that as long as one prays sincerely to God, one will witness God’s deeds.
Kexin wanted to share God’s kingdom gospel with one of her good friends who lived far away, and she needed to call her first to make an appointment. However, when Kexin phoned her, she either didn’t answer her call or made up excuses to decline to see her. Kexin was living within difficulties. She then told a sister about the problem. The sister told her that she should sincerely look to God and entrust the difficulty to God, then God would provide her with a way out. After that, Kexin often prayed to God, asking God to lead her and entrusting everything to God. Yet she still failed to make an appointment with her friend. Kexin was bewildered about this, not knowing what to do.
Afterward, the sister sent Kexin a passage of God’s words: “Sometimes, looking to God does not mean asking God to do something using specific words, or asking Him for specific guidance or protection. Rather, it is that when people encounter some issue, they are able to call on Him sincerely. So, what is God doing there when people call on Him? When someone’s heart stirs and they have this thought: ‘Oh God, I can’t do this myself, I don’t know how to do it, and I feel weak and negative…,’ when these thoughts arise in them, does God not know about it? When these thoughts arise in people, are their hearts sincere? When they call on God sincerely in this way, does God assent to help them? Despite the fact that they may not have spoken a word, they show sincerity, and so God assents to help them. When someone encounters an especially thorny difficulty, when they have no one to turn to, and when they feel particularly helpless, they put their only hope in God. What are their prayers like? What is their state of mind? Are they sincere? Is there any adulteration at that time? It is only when you trust God as though He were the last straw that you clutch onto to save your life, hoping that He will help you, that your heart is sincere. Though you may not have said much, your heart has already stirred. That is, you give your sincere heart to God, and God listens. When God listens, He sees your difficulties, and He will enlighten you, guide you, and help you.”
Then the sister said: “We should compare ourselves with these words of God and reflect on whether our prayers are sincere. In prayers, if we only go through the process and say with our mouths that we are willing to entrust things to God, but our hearts don’t stir and we don’t genuinely call out to God and seek His guidance, then God won’t hear us, much less will He open up a way out for us. This is because our hearts are not honest. So, we must pray to God with true hearts and be innocent, honest people before God; we must speak truthfully to God about the difficulties we encounter and seek His will and His guidance. When our hearts have moved, God will surely enlighten and guide us or use the people, events and things around us to help us, opening up a way for us. We must believe in God’s almightiness and wisdom.”
God’s words and the sister’s fellowship made Kexin realize that the reason her prayers hadn’t been heard by God and she hadn’t obtained a solution for her difficulty, was because she hadn’t had a real communion with God through prayer but had just gone through the motions, saying some polite words. She then thought of a hymn of God’s words that she had listened to many times: “Prayer should center upon that which God wishes to accomplish right now. Ask God to grant you greater enlightenment and illumination, bring your actual states and your troubles into His presence when you pray, including the resolution that you made before God.” Therefore, Kexin prayed to God: “God, I want to preach Your gospel to my friend, but she has never had the time to see me. I don’t know what to do. God, I know that You are all-powerful and that without Your guidance and help, I will not be able to achieve anything. I wish to look to You and entrust this matter to You. Whether she can make time to meet me is in Your hands. I’m willing to submit to Your sovereignty and arrangements. I’m willing to seek Your will more in this matter. If I do something wrong, I ask You to reveal it. I wish to act according to Your intention and cooperate with You. Amen!”
The day after she made that prayer, Kexin again contacted her friend to make an appointment, and to her surprise, her friend said she could meet her half a month ahead of the time arranged by Kexin. Kexin was elated to hear that and thought to herself: “It is indeed God who has done this.” After hanging up, she kept saying: “Thank God!” She came to truly appreciate that when we speak openly to God about what is in our hearts, sincerely rely on God and bring our difficulties before God, even if our words are not beautiful, we’ll gain God’s guidance and see His wondrous deeds.
Though Kexin feels that there are still many deficiencies in her prayer now, she has known the significance of prayer and the result to be achieved by praying. And she just wishes to continue practicing praying to build a normal relationship with God, and strives to truly worship God.
Source: Grow in Christ — The Second Coming of Christ