But what is the principle of prayer? Why do we need to pray? If God knows all things, if He knows what we need and what He needs to do, why does He need us to pray? Isn’t He almighty, all-knowing, and all-powerful?
In the Bible and in our experience we see that God doesn’t want to act independently from man’s cooperation – He won’t do things alone; rather, He will accomplish His will and what is on His heart when His people agree with Him, are in harmony with Him, and pray for His will to be done.
Although God is almighty and He can do everything, if His people don’t cooperate with Him by aligning their will with His and praying out His will, God can be limited in what He can do on earth.
This is why we are told to pray in this way, Our Father who are in the heaven, Your name be sanctified; Your kingdom come; Your will be done, as in heaven so also on the earth (Matt. 6:9-10).
In the heaven there’s no problem: God’s will is done; but on the earth, there’s the need for the church to pray for the release and the accomplishment of God’s will!
Lord, cause us to see the principle of prayer and utter worthwhile prayers to You! Save us from praying in a natural way for what we think we need… May our will be aligned to Your will and may we pray what is in Your heart to accomplish! Lord, Your kingdom come! Lord, Your name be sanctified on the earth! Lord, Your will be done on the earth!
The Principle of Prayer
When we pray according to the principle of prayer, our prayers are worthy before God. It is not how much we pray or how earnestly we pray but how much we pray according to the principle of prayer set up by God.
Before God would rise up to do anything, He needs that His people would pray first. The accomplishment of God’s will is limited by us, the church, and the extent of God’s work on earth is determined by our prayer.
Somehow God limits Himself to man starting at the time of creation, and especially in the New Testament. This is a great mystery and a very important principle of God’s work.
God will not accomplish His will alone, even though He can: He will only accomplish His will when His people are sympathetic with Him in prayer and cooperate with Him by praying His will.
Our prayer is therefore nothing else but our act of working together with God. Paul labored together with God more than all the others, and the foremost labor He rendered to God was the work of prayer (see Acts and his Epistles).
Before we do so many things for God, how much have we prayed? If we know how much prayer will affect things more than our work, why do we still work more than we pray?
The Union of Man’s Will to God’s Will
The principle of prayer has to do with God’s will and man’s will becoming aligned. Unless man’s will is one with the divine will, heaven is limited by the earth, God’s will is limited by our will, and Christ is limited by the church (Col. 4:2, 12).
This is how God chose to do things, and this is why it is our privilege today as free-will-human-beings that are regenerated and saturated with God to Willingly and Readily choose God’s will and pray God’s will for His glory!
As we abide in the Lord, His thoughts and feelings saturate us and permeate us and whatever we ask the Father in the Lord’s name, He will do it for us (John 15:16).
If two or three in the church see this principle and agree on the earth to release what has been released in the heavens and bind what has already bound in the heavens, God’s will will be done on the earth as it is being done in the heavens (Matt. 18:18-20).
When we pray for our desires, wishes, and needs, we need to pray for them in view of God’s need – as long as they are in line with God’s need, we can pray for them and God will listen!
Not Delaying or Hindering God Anymore!
Does this mean that “we can force God to do what we want to do through our prayers”? Can we change through our prayer what God has already ordained to happen? No, we cannot do that – prayer doesn’t “change everything”, rather, prayer only accomplishes what God has ordained.
He has a will, He desires to accomplish His will, and at the most He can be delayed or frustrated temporarily from this by man’s lack of cooperation through prayer.
May we delay God no longer but rather render Him the best cooperation by praying His will back to Him for it to be accomplished! May we seek for the accomplishment of the will of the One to whom we pray (Matt. 26:39)!
May we just echo back to God His heart’s desire so that He may accomplish His will!
This is the only legitimate prayer in the whole universe – the only prayer that pleases God and which God will accomplish: the prayer that asks for the accomplishment of God’s will (Matt. 7:21; 12:50; John 6:38)!
Lord, make us those who truly work with God through prayer and focus on nothing else! Make us those who echo back Your heart’s desire daily before You so that Your will may be done! Lord, we want to empty our heart so that we may seek after You and ask for You to accomplish what we understand to be Your will! We want to pray real prayers, prayers that move Your hand and lay the tracks for You to move and do what You desire to do!
Watchman Nee – a Pattern of Prayer
Most of the above speaking is inspired from brother Watchman Nee‘s Collected Works (vol. 8, pages 5-13). Our brother was truly a seer of the divine revelation in the present age!
Watchman Nee started his ministry in 1922 and for the first 30 years he ministered outwardly, so to speak, bringing in God’s people into the depths of the riches of God’s word and His heart’s desire.
He was imprisoned in 1952 and he spent the last 20 years of his life in a Chinese Communist prison, being deprived of any communication with others from outside, from any human freedom, and even from speaking of his beliefs.
We heard testimonies of some of the inmates concerning him, but most likely what brother Nee did in his hidden ministry in the last 20 years of his life was to pray. He was ushered into a depth of union and communion with God like no other – and no one could stop him from praying.
You could even say that his rich outward ministry was stopped so that for the last 20 years of his life he may be given to prayer. The Lord’s recovery today in part and we today may be the answer to his prayer.
Brother Watchman Nee’s ministry and books have spread throughout the earth and millions of Christians have benefited from his speaking. What a pattern he was both in faith, in conduct, in work, and in prayer!
Lord Jesus, more and more and day by day align our will with Your will. May we pray by joining You in prayer for Your heart’s desire to be accomplished. Keep us abiding in You, and may Your word saturate us and permeate us. Gain the prayers that You need, Lord, so that Your will may be done! May more believers throughout the earth rise up to pray one with You for Your will to be accomplished!
References and Further Reading
- Sharing inspired from brother Minor Chen’s sharing in this message and portions in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on Prayer and the Lord’s Move, week 1 (entitled, The Significance of Prayer, the Principle of Prayer, and the Prayer Ministry of the Church).
- Buy this morning revival book online via Living Stream Ministry.
- Further reading:
# The Collected Works of Watchman Nee (vol. 8, pp. 5-13)
# Messages for Building Up New Believers (vol. 1, ch. 10)
# Watchman Nee and Witness Lee, two ministers with one ministry (holdingtotruth.com);
- Hymns on this topic:
# Make us those who’re one with You in prayer, / Echoing the things for which You care. / Lord, do make us one so that Your heart’s desire we share; / In this age, Lord gain Your men of prayer.
# Praying to express the Lord, / We must not ourselves express, / But let Christ reveal Himself, / His desire in us impress.
# Praying always in the spirit, / In the holiest place divine; / It is only in the spirit / God and we in oneness twine.
- Pictures credit: 1 John 5:14 (here) and Matt. 18:18 (here).