Pray-reading the Word of God is a precious life practice revealed in the Bible. The Lord began to recover this practice among us in 1966, and since that time we have been learning to receive and enjoy God’s Word “by means of all prayer” (Eph. 6:18). In this article we would like to consider our practice of pray-reading.
What does the term pray-read mean? In a message given in 1969, Brother Lee offers a simple explanation: “Although the term pray-read is a new term, the principle it describes is not new. To pray-read is to read the Word of God prayerfully.” It is “to use the words of the Bible as our prayer,” to “pray and to read the Word of God” (The Collected Works of Witness Lee, 1969, vol. 2, pp. 113-114). In the same message, Brother Lee shares a clear word concerning the scriptural basis for pray-reading:
Ephesians 6:17-18 is the strong scriptural basis for our practice of pray-reading. These verses say, “Receive...the sword of the Spirit, which Spirit is the word of God, by means of all prayer and petition, praying at every time in spirit and watching unto this in all perseverance and petition concerning all the saints.” According to this verse, the sword is the Spirit, and the Spirit is the word of God. Furthermore, the way to receive the word of God as the Spirit is by means of all prayer, that is, to pray-read the Word of God. Because we receive the word as the Spirit through pray-reading, we feel refreshed whenever we pray-read a few verses, whether in the morning or at other times. Anyone who has had a taste of pray-reading will have no desire to give it up, because it is enjoyable. There is a great difference between merely reading the Word and pray-reading the Word.” (pp. 114-115)
According to Ephesians 6:17-18, we should receive the word of God as the Spirit in a particular way: by means of all prayer. This is wonderful! As we pray-read God’s word, using the words we read as our prayer, we will surely be refreshed, supplied, and strengthened.
“...the way to receive the word of God as the Spirit is by means of all prayer, that is, to pray-read the Word of God.”
“This life practice is an item of recovery that we should treasure and enter into more fully through our faithful exercise.”
As Brother Lee points out, our practice of pray-reading the Word of God is “not a new invention but a recovery of what is revealed in the Bible” (CWWL, 1969, vol. 2, p. 121). The Lord began to recover this practice among us in 1966. In a message given in 1969 on enjoying the Lord by pray-reading the Word, Brother Lee recounts how the Lord began to recover the practice of pray-reading among the saints in the local churches:
In October 1966, after I returned to Taipei, we held a small conference for the co-workers. During that time two co-workers shared a testimony that in the place where they worked, they encountered great difficulty in the local church and in the Lord’s work. Because they were unable to bear or solve the problem, they came together before the Lord and simply prayed the Bible. As soon as they spoke this testimony, within me the Spirit indicated that this is what we need to do to enjoy the Word. We need to pray the words of the Bible directly.
When I received this speaking from the Lord, I stood up among the brothers and said, “Brothers, from now on, we all need to learn to pray with the words of the Bible directly.” Then we all began to practice this. Every one of us received the benefit of this practice, and we were all strengthened. Soon after the conference, some of the brothers who attended wrote letters to the brothers in Los Angeles about what had taken place at the conference. Then the church in Los Angeles began to practice praying the Word. At the same time the church in San Francisco also heard about the conference and began to practice this. Hence, there were three localities—Taipei, Los Angeles, and San Francisco—practicing to pray the Word. Initially, however, the three localities practiced to pray the Word in different ways.
The following year, 1967, when I returned to the United States, I visited San Francisco. It was through this visit that the three different practices of praying the Word were mingled into one. It was also during this visit that we created the term pray-reading by putting together the two words pray and read to describe the practice of receiving the Word by prayer. Today two and a half years have passed since we began to practice pray-reading, and many believers have received the benefit of pray-reading the Word. (CWWL, 1969, vol. 2, pp. 193-194)
We are thankful to the Lord that, in His ongoing work of recovery, He began recovering the practice of pray-reading among us in 1966. This life practice is an item of recovery that we should treasure and enter into more fully through our faithful exercise.
Through His recovery of the practice of pray-reading among us, the Lord has shown us the best way to enjoy Him, to receive the supply from His Word, and to absorb the riches in His Word. He has also shown us that pray-reading is the best way for us to be strengthened into the inner man (Eph. 3:16). Concerning this matter, Brother Lee says,
Pray-reading is the best way for our inner man to be strengthened. The more we forget about trying to understand the Word and simply pray-read the Word by exercising our spirit, the more our spirit will be strengthened. As a result, Christ will make His home in our heart with the result that we will be filled unto all the fullness of God (vv. 17, 19). Through our pray-reading, our spirit will be strengthened, and Christ will have the opportunity to enter into us. The more we receive His word, the more we will enjoy His riches, and the more He will enter into us and even make His home in our heart. Eventually, He will occupy every part of our being and take full possession of our being. Then our heart will be His home, His abode. Ultimately, we will be filled unto all the fullness of God; that is, we will be fully mingled with God and will be one with God. It is in this way that the fullness of Christ, which is the Body of Christ, will be built up. (CWWL, 1967, vol. 2, pp. 80-81)
By exercising our spirit to pray-read the Word, we can enter experientially into the profound reality unveiled in Ephesians 3:16-19. It is truly the Lord’s mercy that He has given us such a simple and practical way, the way of pray-reading His Word, to enter into this reality.
“Through our pray-reading, our spirit will be strengthened, and Christ will have the opportunity to enter into us. The more we receive His word, the more we will enjoy His riches, and the more He will enter into us and even make His home in our heart.”
“During this time you should not merely read but pray-read, that is, speak to the Lord directly with His word and pray His word into you. This is the best way to be nourished in your spiritual life.”
The ministry offers many helpful recommendations concerning the practice of pray-reading, and we should be encouraged to avail ourselves of these recommendations in our own practice of pray-reading. Here we would like to highlight one recommendation in particular, which Brother Lee presented in 1990 in the context of reading the Bible in a comprehensive way. He says,
You should spend ten to fifteen minutes early every morning to do nothing else but to sequentially pray-read two or three verses from a designated portion of the Bible. During this time you should not merely read but pray-read, that is, speak to the Lord directly with His word and pray His word into you. This is the best way to be nourished in your spiritual life. Although everyone is busy during the day with very little extra time, everyone can get up fifteen minutes earlier. Whoever is willing can do it. This way is suitable for everyone. At the beginning, it may require some effort, but after a while, it will become your habit. Moreover, this way of reading helps you to retain the Lord’s word in your heart easily. During the day you can “chew” on these words again and again, digesting and receiving the Lord’s supply from them. This is the first method of reading, and it is the most necessary one. (CWWL, 1990, vol. 3, “The Vision of the Divine Dispensing and Guidelines for the Practice of the New Way, p. 325)
May the Lord bring us into this practice of being nourished by pray-reading and digesting a few verses every day. And through this practice, may we be able to testify, as the Lord Himself testified, that we live “on every word that proceeds out through the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).