Being Forced to Pray

I have been receiving short excerpts on the word of God from e-Manna daily, and the title “Being Forced to Pray” got my attention when I was browsing through my email.

The Bible reference was from Genesis 32. In this chapter, Jacob was already expecting that his brother Esau, whom he stole the birthright from, would attack him, as indicated by his prayer (v. 9). This was the only time recorded in Genesis that Jacob prayed.

After making [his] arrangements, Jacob probably was still not at peace. Thus, he did something unusual—he prayed. This is the first record of Jacob’s praying in his entire life. (In 28:20-22 it was his vow, not his prayer to God.) During the twenty years Jacob was under the squeezing hand of Laban, there is no record that he prayed. Although Laban changed his wages ten times, Jacob did not pray. In principle, we all are
Jacobs. We have received the promise of God and we have come to know God, but still we do not pray. Instead of exercising our spirit to pray, we exercise our mind to consider and our natural strength to face every problem.

Are we not like Jacob? When a situation arises, what do we usually do? We usually exhaust all options before we would even pray. We are so accustomed to using our mind and our strength to consider and to deal with things. In the case of Jacob, at a certain point in his life, he was forced to pray.

Jacob did not pray when he was with Laban; instead, he employed his natural strength to manage the situation. But now, being about to face Esau, he was brought to a place where he had no more skill. All his skill, technique, ability, and strength had been exhausted. When he learned that Esau was coming with four hundred men, he was frightened. The most he could do was divide his people into two groups, thinking that if the first were sacrificed, the second might be spared. Because this was the best Jacob could do, he was forced to pray.

This got me thinking…Do we only pray when we really are in trouble and have no more hope and no one else to rely on? For more on prayer, you can check this link by Bro. Tom Smith. He spoke much on developing our prayer life with the Lord.


  • Life-study of Genesis, p. 951

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Miserable Job vs Joyful Paul

As I read the book of Job again, I was enlightened that there is a mystery hidden throughout the ages (Eph. 3:9). Job who was a perfect and upright man. He was wealthy. He feared God. He stayed away from evil. And yet God allowed Satan to strip him of everything he had. The question is, “Why do bad things to God’s people?” Thirty-seven out of the forty-two chapters are a record of Job and his three friends debating among themselves the reason why God “punished” Job. They thought that God was judging Job because he did something wrong. Job vindicated himself because he knew he did nothing wrong. Job concluded that God had hidden something in His heart (Job 10:13). At that time he was not able to know what was that mystery.

We also think that when we go through something, when we are suffering, when we are in trouble, that God is judging us because of a sin we might have committed. Sometimes we become miserable Christians because we are perplexed regarding the purpose of God’s dealing, instead of being a joyful one (Phil. 4:4). Job, at one point, said that it was better for him not to be born (Job 3:11). But Paul, knowing and realizing God’s purpose in creating and dealing with man, was a joyful Christian. He used the word “rejoice” 10 times in his epistle to the Philippians showing how joyful he was as a believer. In 2 Corinthians 12:10 he says that he is well pleased in weakness, in insults, in necessities, in persecutions, and distresses…for when I am weak, then I am powerful.” Job complained in his sufferings, but Paul rejoiced in his sufferings.

What is the difference between Job and Paul? Paul knew that “all things work together for good…” (Rom. 8:28). God arranges our circumstances, causing all things to work for good to us. Good here, in the context of Romans 8, refers to our gaining more of Christ, having Christ wrought into our being so that we may be transformed and conformed to His image (v. 29).

I have seen quite a few who got stumbled because they were puzzled as to why God allowed them to suffer. Many have been ignorant of God’s purpose in His dealing and had a negative effect on their relationship with God. We should realize the following:

  1. We should never blame God for all the sufferings that occur. Some sufferings are due to our own doing. For example, as students, if you did not study well and fail the exam, that is your fault.
  2. We must not think the God wants us to suffer. All of God’s arrangement is for our benefit, and for our salvation. He has our best interest.
  3. God, sometimes, allow us to suffer in order that we may gain Him as life. During these times, we should tell the Lord that we love Him, and acknowledge and accept His hand in our environment (Rom. 8:28). By doing this, we like Paul will be well pleased in our suffering.

The way God dispenses Himself

To conclude, I would like us to consider this short excerpt from the Life-study of Job pp. 5-6 along with Paul’s testimony in Philippians 3:7-8:

Have you ever had the thought that quite often God does something to strip you? Even though you may not be wrong, suddenly certain things happen to you, and God uses these things to strip you. Before I came into the Lord’s recovery, the word stripping was not in my spiritual dictionary. I had heard about judgment, punishment, and chastisement but not about stripping. It was from Brother Nee that I learned about God’s stripping.

Today in our spiritual dictionary the first word should be Christ, and the second word should be stripping. How much of Christ have you gained? How much of Christ we have gained is according to how much stripping we have suffered. The more we suffer God’s stripping, the more we gain Christ.

It is through His stripping that God dispenses Himself to those who love Him and seek after Him. Job lost all that he had, but ultimately he gained God Himself. God stripped his all in order that He could be his all for his full transformation and conformation to the glorious image of God in His Son (Rom. 8:29).

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There is need of ONE THING

From the account of the Gospel of Luke chapter 10 verses 38 – 42, we see two sisters – Martha and Mary who were visited by no other than Jesus Himself into their home. Martha immediately busied herself with “much serving” (v. 40). Perhaps she was busy cooking and preparing a meal for Jesus. Mary, on the other hand, “sat at the Lord’s feet and was listening to His word” (v. 39).

If you were one of those sisters, what would you do when you have such a VIP who comes to visit you at your home? We may think that Martha certainly did a good job in serving Jesus, while Mary did absolutely nothing. Martha complained and told Jesus, “Lord, does it not matter to You that my sister has left me to serve other?” (v. 40). She even commanded the Lord, “Tell her then to do her part with me” (v. 40). At this point, Jesus told Martha, “You are anxious and troubled about many things; but there is need of one thing, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (vv. 41-42). It seems that there are many things to be done, and yet there is need of only one thing! There is only one thing that is needful!

Brothers and sisters, what is the one thing that is needful? It is nothing other than Christ Himself — this is what Mary chose. We can have this needful thing only by sitting quietly before the Lord as Mary did. Every Christian should work, and it is wrong if anyone does not work. The Bible tells us that the man who will not work should not eat (2 Thes. 3:10). We should work diligently. However, we often find no rest within when we work; we may even feel that we have forgotten the Lord. Sometimes we are so busy from morning till evening that we do not find time for prayer or Bible reading before the Lord. When we labor, do some spiritual work, or give assistance to a brother or sister, our motive is for the Lord, yet eventually we become distracted; our heart is disturbed. The problem is that there are too many things that cause us to forget the Lord and let Him go. Let us listen to the Lord, who
is telling us that only one thing is needful! This very thing is to have rest in the Lord and to be content in Him. (The Collected Works of Watchman Nee (Set 2) Vol. 37: Geneeral Messages (1), pp. 113-114)

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Saturated or corrected?

Corrected or Saturated-

Ephesians 1:4 tells us that God had chosen us in Christ to be holy. To be holy not only means to be sanctified, and separated unto God. It also means that we are distinct, not common. Only God is distinct. Everything else is common. Thus, to be holy means to be soaked and saturated with the element of God.

To be holy firstly means to be separated unto God positionally:

With respect to our family, neighbors, colleagues, and friends, we need to be separated. Many Christians, however, are saved, but not separated…They are virtually the same as the worldly people. With them, there is no separation. Many of their relatives and friends do not even know that they are Christians.

Others may be free to say or do certain things, but you are not. Even if you can do those things, you refrain from doing them because you have been redeemed by the blood. With you there is a sign that you are different, separated. Other people may utter certain words, go certain places, or buy certain things, but we cannot because we are separated and bear the sign of the redeeming blood. The blood has sanctified and separated us. (Life-study of Ephesians, pp. 28-28)

Separation is not related to sin, to whether or not something is sinful or not. It is a matter of whether or not we are common or separated.

Secondly, to be holy is a matter of dispositional sanctification. Separation is something outward and positional. God intends to saturate us with Himself:

But to be saturated dispositionally takes a long time. If we are faithful to the Lord, we shall be saturated with the nature of God day after day. God intends to saturate us with Himself, and we need to soak up God in our being. This requires time. (Life-study of Ephesians, p. 30)

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Grace be with your spirit 

The book of Galatians ends with this verse, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.” In the Gospel of John, we are told that grace and reality came through Jesus Christ (1:17). Grace is not given, grace is a Person.

How do we receive and enjoy grace? First, we need to realize that the only place we could receive and enjoy grace is in our spirit. An illustration would be that of applying electricity to our homes. We could enjoy the electricity by turning on the switch. In like manner, to enjoy the moving and anointing Spirit as grace, we have to turn to our spirit and exercise it. In the Life-study of Galatians, Bro. Lee says:

There can be no doubt that, on the one hand, He is on the throne in heaven. But, on the other hand, for our experience He is in our spirit. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us therefore come forward with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace for timely help.” The throne of grace is not only in heaven; it is also in our spirit. If it were not in our spirit as well as in heaven, how could we come forward to it? Some may argue that our spirit is not large enough to contain the throne of grace. Although this may seem logical in terms of size, the fact that we can come forward to the throne of grace indicates that, experientially, it is in our spirit. From my experience I know that when I turn to my spirit and call, “Lord Jesus,” I immediately have the sense that the throne of grace is in my spirit.

Whenever we approach the throne of grace by turning to our spirit and calling on the name of the Lord, we should enthrone the Lord. We must give Him the headship, kingship, and lordship in us. What a tremendous difference this makes! Sometimes as we are praying we sense that the Lord is within us, but we are not willing to give Him the throne. Instead of recognizing His kingship, we exalt ourselves above Him and put ourselves on the throne. In a very practical way, we dethrone the Lord. Whenever we fail to enthrone the Lord, the flow of grace stops. At the very time we are praying, we need to allow the Lord to be on the throne within us, honoring Him as the Head, the Lord, and the King. Then grace will flow within us as a river. (Life-study of Galatians, pp. 329)

Many times we are provoked by the enemy to turn away from our spirit and exercise our mind and emotion. When we are in the midst of arguing  and reasoning, we find it difficult to turn to our spirit. This is why the best way to practice turning to our spirit and remaining in our spirit is by having fixed times for prayer. We could at least set aside 10 minutes in the morning for prayer. When we are in our spirit, we should recognize that the Lord is the Head. He should be enthroned in our being. We have no right to say anything and do anything. Learn to inquire of Him. Our need today is to turn to our spirit, and remain there, enthroning the Lord.

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