- We must spend time to learn the principles of praying together in the Lord’s table with fresh revelation of who the Lord is as the bread and as the cup to release life and life supply through our prayer.
- Our prayers should be full of revelation according to our relationship with the Lord and avoid “preaching prayers” according to doctrine only.
- We need to remember the Lord with praise and well speaking concerning His person and work, and worship the Father by addressing praise to Him.
Principles of Praying in the Lord’s Table Meeting
We must pay attention to a few principles when we pray at a table meeting. First, our prayers must be fitly connected to one another. The entire meeting, including the selection of hymns, prayers, reading of Scriptures, exhortation, or testimony, should be carried out as if we are in a relay race; there should not be another beginning halfway through the meeting. Second, our prayers should move forward; they should not remain in the same place. Immediately after we offer a prayer in relation to a hymn, we must move forward in our spirit. We must not only move further but also move higher. Third, as we move forward in the meeting, we must learn to maintain the feeling of the meeting in our prayers and hymns. This simply means that we cannot proceed independently. As we move forward in selecting a hymn, and especially when we pray, we should bring the brothers and sisters with us. In a three-legged race we must take care of our partner who is bound to us; we cannot simply run as fast as we wish. Fourth, all our prayers should contain utterances of poetic quality. God is full of feeling. A person with much feeling tends to be poetic in utterance, whereas a person with little feeling tends to be rough in his expressions. The more a person touches God, the richer his feeling will be, and consequently, the more poetic his utterances will be. However, do not think that merely being poetic is good enough; the most important thing concerning prayer is that it should touch people’s spirit. The more we are in the spirit, the more feeling we have. Fifth, our prayers should not only move forward and upward, they should also bring the atmosphere of the meeting to the subject of the meeting. For example, the first section of the Lord’s table meeting is for the breaking of the bread. After a few hymns and prayers we should bring the meeting toward the bread and the cup, to the feeling of breaking the bread. Sixth, we should avoid formal prayers at the table meeting; instead, we should use words of revelation and words that convey spiritual facts. Through our prayer both the bread and the cup are unveiled to the universe. After our prayer everyone should have seen the bread and the cup. This kind of revelation is not received instantly. Therefore, we need to spend the time and energy to exercise diligently. If in every locality there are ten saints who know how to select hymns and another ten who know how to pray, the situation of the various meetings will surely be living and full of the life supply.
Praying with Revelation and Avoiding Doctrinal Prayers
We should pray with words of revelation and avoid preaching prayers. What is a preaching prayer? And what is a prayer with revelation? Suppose we talk with two people concerning [one of the meeting halls] of the church in Taipei. We may tell them that the meeting hall on Ren Ai Road is made of wood and has many glass doors and windows that face different directions. This is giving a sermon. However, we may bring them to [the meeting hall] and say, “Look at the doors, the windows, the courtyard, and the inside furnishings.” This is revelation, a seeing.
Many times our prayers are doctrinal prayers, not prayers of revelation. This means that when we pray, we merely recite a message to others concerning the Lord, as if the Lord is not there. We do not give others the feeling that the Lord is right in front of us, and that we are gazing at Him while speaking of His glory. There is a great difference here. We need to have the utterance of revelation when we pray. Let us consider some examples: “O Lord, we praise You that You became flesh”; this is a doctrinal prayer. “Lord, thank You that today You are in glory, yet You still possess human nature. We praise You”; this is still a doctrinal prayer. “O Lord, although we are touching the bread, we sense You in glory. Lord, we praise You”; this is a prayer with revelation. Although these prayers refer to the same thing, they are expressed in two different ways. Whereas one is doctrinal and formal, the other is living and with revelation.
If we stand on our relationship with the Lord and pray according to this relationship, it is easy to pray with revelation. For example, we may pray, “Lord, You are in glory, but we are still here. O Lord, our eyes are still looking to the future. When You come back, we shall be with You in glory.” With these few sentences we can touch something; it is as if glory has entered the meeting. It is not that glory has been transferred to us from eternity future; rather, the eternal glory is now intimately related to us. If we are afraid that the feeling of the saints is not strong enough or that our words are not clear enough, we may add a few sentences, “Lord, it seems that today only You are in glory and that we are not. But even now we know that the day will come when we shall be as You are; we shall be exactly like You.” We need to give the brothers and sisters a feeling that the glory we enjoy today is not objective but subjective. Our prayer should let the saints touch the Lord’s glory.
Remembering the Lord by Praising the Lord with
Well Speaking concerning His Person and Work
To remember the Lord (1 Cor. 11:24-25) we have to praise Him, not pray to Him. Remembering the Lord at His table is by praising instead of by praying. We do not come to the Lord’s table meeting to ask the Lord to do things for us. At the Lord’s table meeting we should bless the Lord with well speaking concerning His person and work. Well speaking means praising by speaking the good things. It would be helpful to itemize some of the main points concerning His person, such as His divinity, His humanity, and His statuses as the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Savior, the Redeemer, the Sanctifier, the life-giving Spirit, the Lord, etc. We have to try our best to point out the different items of the Lord’s person, so that the saints can be helped in their praising. Then we also have to point out the various aspects of the Lord’s work, such as His redemptive work, His saving work, His sanctifying work, His transforming work, etc. We have to bless the Lord in such a way as to praise Him, to speak well about Him. When our praise has reached a climax, we should bless the bread and the cup.
In the section of remembering the Lord, all our praises should be addressed directly to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. To address our praises directly to the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, we need to realize the economy of the Divine Trinity. Matthew 28:19b says that we are baptized into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Second Corinthians 13:14 refers to the love of God, the grace of Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. These verses reveal the economy of the Divine Trinity to dispense Himself into His chosen and redeemed people. We need to learn to differentiate the Lord’s names from the Father’s names. In our personal time it would be good to read Hymns, #65 through #80, concerning the names of the Lord. In order to address or praise the Lord Himself directly, we need to know His names.
Worshiping the Father by Addressing Praise to Him
Matthew 26:26-30 shows that we should worship the Father after eating the bread and drinking the cup. Verses 26 through 29 show us that the bread was broken and eaten, and that the cup was drunk. Then in verse 30 there was the singing of a hymn to the Father, showing that the worship to the Father must be after eating the bread and drinking the cup. We worship the Father by praising. This is also based upon Matthew 26:30. This is a unique verse telling us that a hymn was sung. That means to praise. According to the Greek text, we may say that they “hymned a praise” to the Father. To worship the Father at the Lord’s table, we have to sing hymns of praise to Him.
Christ, the Firstborn of God, takes the lead among His brothers to sing hymns of praise to the Father. Hebrews 2:12 says, “I will declare Your name to My brothers; in the midst of the church I will sing hymns of praise to You.” The literal meaning according to the Greek is “I will hymn You.” We, the many sons of God, follow Christ in praising the Father. In Matthew 26:30 it was not only Christ but also His disciples singing a hymn of praise with Him. So He took the lead, and the disciples followed Him. Today it should be the same. Christ, the Firstborn, takes the lead, and we, the many sons, follow Him to praise the Father. In our remembrance of the Lord, we address all the praises to the Lord. Then, when we turn to worship the Father, we have to address all our praises to Him. Thus, we have to call hymns according to the Father’s person, the Father’s being. We also have to call hymns according to the Father’s attributes, such as His love, His kindness, and His glory.
Question: What should we be aware of in beginning the Lord’s table meeting? What should we be aware of as we transition to the worship of the Father?
It is best to use a hymn, not prayer, at the beginning of a meeting, because at the beginning the spirit is relatively low, and it is difficult to pray. In principle, however, prayer is the best way to begin, because a hymn is not as high as a prayer. But when we are unable to offer suitable prayer, we must use a hymn. Some have asked whether we should first pray or first sing a hymn to begin the worship of the Father after breaking the bread at the table meeting. If we are able to have a good beginning with prayer, it is best to begin with prayer. If the prayer is strong enough to touch the spirit of the meeting, even to touch this particular section of the meeting, then prayer is the best and the sweetest way to begin this section of the meeting.
- What principles do we need to pay attention to when we pray at the Lord’s table meeting?
- What does it mean to pray with revelation? Where does this revelation come from?
- Why does our praise turn to address the Father during the second section of the meeting?
- How can we learn to pray and praise together, so there can be more life released in the Lord’s table? What experiences have you had of this?
Excerpts taken from Basic Lessons on Service, Messages 4-5 and Guidelines for the Lord’s Table Meeting and the Pursuit in Life, Messages 6-7