Holding to Truth

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Learning to Pray Inquiring Prayers for God’s Work

Learn to Pray Inquiring Prayers

Have you ever felt that your service to God was ineffective? Fruitless? Without direction? I know I have.

What’s worse, we may sadly find out one day that all our work for God was presumptuous and displeasing to Him because He was not its Source or Initiator (Matt. 7:21-23).

In order to avoid this, we’ll consider in this post how to enter into a more effective Christian service by learning to pray inquiring prayers that honor Him.

What do we mean by inquiring prayers?

As a preface, it is important to realize that the prayer to fellowship with God is the foundation of prayer. I covered this first aspect of prayer  in my previous post,  Practical Points on How to Pray to Fellowship with the Lord.

Based on our prayer for fellowship, we can progress to the second aspect of prayer—the prayer for inquiring. Inquiring prayers are prayers in which we open to God and allow Him to initiate His burden in us. We need to learn this type of prayer for both the Lord’s work, as well as for our personal needs.

Initiated by God

By first praying to fellowship with the Lord, we enter into God. Then, while we’re in fellowship with Him, the prayers that we pray will be something initiated by Him. He will give us His burden to pray and reveal His intention to us.

Consider the example of the five who were ministering to the Lord in Acts 13:1-4. It was while they were praying that the Holy Spirit gave them the burden for the spread of the gospel through the sending of  Barnabas and Saul.

More inquiring than petitioning

In this aspect of prayer there is more inquiring than petitioning. Petitioning is to tell God what we want Him to do for us. However, inquiring is to ask the Lord what is on His heart—what He wants us to pray for. Inquiring prayers are very good prayers because they honor God. It is by such prayers that God’s desire is made known to us.

It is as we are calmly inquiring of the Lord, step by step, point by point, that we can sense God’s leading and then work according to His leading.

For example, we may ask the Lord if He wants us to pray today for the spread of the gospel.

If we sense His leading for the gospel, we may inquire further if it His desire that we pray  for the salvation of our family members or our coworkers.

While inquiring, we may feel deeply burdened for a family member that is far from the Lord. Our heart may be touched even to tears. Sensing the Lord’s burden for this one’s salvation, we may further ask Him how He would have us to pray for him or her. We may specifically ask the Lord if this is the right time for us to visit this one.

Feeling peaceful about visiting, we may go on to inquire of the Lord concerning what He would have us to say. We may feel that the  Lord simply wants us to go and take time to listen to what interests them.

Being thorough

From the example above, we can see that our inquiring should be thorough and detailed. On our own we might just tell the Lord to save that person. But that is not thorough enough. We need to inquire of the Lord for each detail. We may ask the Lord if it would be better to meet this  person at their home or at a coffee shop, by ourselves or with a companion. Don’t think that this is too trivial.

Fulfilling the Principles of Prayer

We need to realize that many of our prayers in the past were not answered because we did not pray according to the principles of prayer. Just telling the Lord to do something does not follow the principles of prayer.

We should first use our spirit to contact God and allow Him to anoint His burden into us and give us His feeling. Then we can inquire according to this feeling for every item of our work–in this case,  our visiting of people.

Needing time to pray for the work

From this illustration, it is clear that we need to spend more time to pray. The effectiveness of our work really depends on how much time we’re willing to spend before God. We should not be anxious or overwhelmed, but realize that this lesson requires our whole life to learn.

As those who love the Lord Jesus and want to give Him the first place in our Christian life and work, we can’t afford to neglect these crucial lessons in prayer. May we honor the Lord by first learning the prayer of fellowship and then going on to the prayer for inquiring.

Needing companions for the work of prayer

As a final note–praying for the Lord’s work is not just the work of some individuals. We really need spiritual companions for this kind of detailed prayer–like the two or three praying in harmony  in Matthew 18:18-20.  Otherwise, our “praying hands” will become weary like those of Moses in  Exodus 17:9-13.  We need companions like “Aaron and Hur” to preserve us in this kind of  prayer for God’s work for the long run.

Lord, recover the finer work of prayer among Your people. Teach us how to have fellowship with You in prayer so that we may enter deeply into Your heart. Then lead us further to inquire of You so that we may take You as the Source and Initiator of all our Christian living and work. Grant us proper companions that will share in this work of prayer to carry out Your will in this age.

If you’ve had some experience in learning to pray the prayer of fellowship and the prayer for inquiring, please share your confirming experiences so that we can mutually learn and be encouraged.

These points were mainly drawn from Fellowshipping with the Lord for the Mingling of God with Man, by Witness Lee, pp. 11-15.

About Tom Smith

Hi. My name is Tom Smith. I'm the writer behind Holding to Truth in Love, and I love the Lord Jesus and His life-giving Word. Please feel free to send me an e-mail through the contact page if you have any questions. I hope you'd take a moment to subscribe to the Holding to Truth blog. Then you'll be sure not to miss a post. Thanks!

29 Replies

  1. Thank you so much for this encouraging post! Initially I was a little overwhelmed by the illustration and how far I am from that. But I appreciate so much that this is a lifetime learning and one that we need companions for. Due to some recent messages I heard, I’ve been so impressed that we need to learn to pray effective prayers for the Lord’s interest so that He can come back! Thank you again for the posts on prayer. Any plans to do one on the topic of prayer for spiritual warfare?

    1. Tom Smith

      Thank you for the encouraging comment. I also feel that such a life of prayer is far beyond my day to day experience, but knowing that there is a Man of prayer inside of my spirit gives me hope that such a life can actually be lived. He did everything in oneness with the Father. Now He calls us to do the same–to live because of Him. May so many younger brothers and sisters aspire to such a finer ministry of prayer to really live in this divine and mystical realm.

      Thanks for the post consideration regarding prayer for spiritual warfare. I’ll definitely bring this before the Lord.

      1. Brian Shamess

        Such encouragement to be quiet before the Lord that he would direct our prayer and impart His burden in us. Where should I meet this person ? At their home? A coffee shop? What is your burden for them Lord? Thank you brother

        1. Tom Smith

          Yes, it is very good to inquire of the Lord in the quiet of His presence. It is not only a matter of seeking the Lord’s direction as far as where we should go or what we should do. It is even more a matter of opening to the Lord for Him to infuse us with Himself, to anoint us with what He is (1 Cor. 1:21, 1 John 2:27). Then whatever we do, we live Him (Phil. 1:21a), having Him as our supply and element.

    2. Ona

      Thank you for sharing, this is an eye opener, God bless you!

      1. Tom Smith

        It is a real advance in our prayer to progress from asking God do what we want to inquiring of Him concerning what He wants. When we first touch God’s heart’s desire, then our prayer is aligned with His will and we can have boldness to pray, knowing that we are not praying amiss. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Dear Pastor Tom, thanks for the article on prayer of inquiry, i have been searching for the meaning of this kind of prayer for about two months now since the Lord placed that statement on my heart.
    im grateful to God that i have learnt the meaning and im going to put into practise this kind of prayer.


    Sylvia Nanyonga

    1. Tom Smith

      I’m so glad that the Lord has touched you on the matter of the prayer of inquiry. It is so good to realize that we can learn to fellowship with the Lord in our spirit to get to know the inner sense of His life in us. Based on our fellowship with the Lord, we can inquire of Him, tracing His leading by following this inner sense of life and peace (Rom. 8:6). This is very fine and is something we will be learning through our entire Christian life.

  3. Thank you for this uplifting post. I agree that we need to inquire from God what he expects us to do.

  4. okwunwa josephine

    Thanks for your inspiring message. Could you please send a note on SPIRIT, SOUL AND BODY? Thank you Sir!

    1. Tom Smith

      Thank you for your reply and the questions in your email.

      The following are your questions followed by brief answers. With your permission, I’m posting them on the blog for others to read as well

      In Christ,


      Q # 1 – First, where is man’s spirit supposed to dwell?
      A – The spirit of man is hidden within man’s soul , like marrow is concealed with bones or joints

      Q # 2 – Is it possible for a persons spirit to be born again and the soul is not?
      A – Man’s spirit is born again at the time He believes into Jesus Christ. John 3:6 says that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. It is our human spirit that is born of the Holy Spirit. Our soul is still natural and needs to be renewed by the spreading of the Spirit from our spirit into our soul. We call this process transformation. Romans 12:2 says “be transformed by the renewing of the mind.” No, the spirit remains within a person until their death, When the spirit departs the person dies.

      Q # 3 – What is the role of the spirit in the place of prayer?
      A – The spirit of man is the organ for prayer. Since the Lord is the Spirit with our spirit (2 Tim. 4:22), it is from our spirit that He moves us to pray. In Ephesians 6:18, Paul charged us to “pray at every time in spirit.” So we need to exercise to pray from our deepest part, not just from what our mind remembers.

      Q # 4 – What is the role of his soul in the place of prayer?
      A – What ever the Lord as the Spirit anoints us with as a burden for prayer needs to be interpreted and carried out by the faculties of the soul. Our mind must understand the moving of the Spirit. Our emotion must be open to share the Lord’s feeling and our will must choose to utter in prayer the burden of the Spirit in our spirit.

      For more on these points, I would encourage you to read Lessons on Prayer by Witness Lee. Chapter 5 is on the Spirit of Prayer and Chapters 6-8 are on the Mind, Emotion and Will related to Prayer.(To read further, click “Read from the full text of this book” at the bottom of the page.)

  5. Barbara

    Dear Pastor Tom:
    I was simply crying out to God for a deeper, more directed, walk, and a significan way to serve. My entire self longs for a deeper sense of His life in me and my fruitfulness in Him. I have recently gotten a job that keeps me alone for hours doing almost nothing and I have truly wondered what this is all about. The posts I have read today are both informative and review of what I already know, but feeling it isn’t yet bearing fruit in my life. My desire is that I will know Christ in such a way that His voice and His will are crystal clear to me. I feel I was lead to this site and I look forward to using these techniques to draw closer to the Master that I may truly know Him in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.
    Please pray for me in this,
    Thank you for all of the wisdom you have shared.

  6. calistus Ndongoli

    Thank you Brother, Keep-up the good work of GOD and services as commissioned by our Lord jesus Christ. I’m Blessed.

    1. Tom Smith

      Keep loving and pursuing the Lord Jesus and inquiring of Him to know Him and take Him as the source and direction for your living and service. Thanks for the comment.

  7. Oteikwu Oteikwu

    Thank you, brother.
    I first heard of this a few weeks back so its exploratory for me but I am deeply interested. I desire full unity with God & it is clear, even my life experience confirms it, this is the way to go.

    Thanks for penning it down & for sharing. Thanks to Witness Lee too.

    Pls keep me in your thoughts for breakthrough.


    1. Tom Smith


      Thanks for sharing your interest in the matter of praying inquiring prayers. First, we need to realize that we have the most wonderful Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, dwelling in our spirit to be our life. As the indwelling Spirit of life, living within us, He is full of feeling and interceding for us. He is waiting for us to inquire of Him. To pray the inquiring prayers He desires, we need to calm our inner being, put aside our prayer “agenda” and simply open to Him and be mingled with Him. In this prayer of fellowship we can begin to inquire as to what is on the Lord’s heart. We should endeavor to follow the anointing of His Spirit and pray out His desire through our prayer.

      This kind of prayer will bring us much more mingling with God and provide prayers that God delights to answer…because they originate with Him. You can read more on this topic in chapter 5 of How to Enjoy God and How to Practice the Enjoyment of God by Witness Lee. You can find it in the alphabetical listing of titles on ministrybooks.org.

      Also this hymn, Pray to Fellowship with Jesus with lyrics by the same author conveys this sentiment as well.

  8. princess Raheal

    Man of God thank you for such a topic this is soul saving

    1. Tom Smith

      Glad you enjoyed the post. May the Lord bless you as you pursue Him according to His Word. Thanks for the comment.

  9. Caleb Ego

    Thank you sir for the wonderful exposition. however, I have never been able to use my intuition part of my spirit to receive any message from God since I’ve been born as a human and since I’ve been born again. I’ve never even have any dream. Please, do you know why and what is the solution to this problem?

    1. Tom Smith

      Thank you for your sincere comment.

      In response I would say that we must first get to know our spirit which is now joined to the Lord and indwelt by Him (1 Cor. 6:17; 2 Tim. 4:22). We mainly experience this through spending times to pray to fellowship with the Lord. To help you with this practice, I would first recommend a little booklet entitles, Basic Elements of the Christian Life, vol. 1, especially chapters 4-5 on “Calling on the name of the Lord” and “The Key to Experiencing Christ—the Human Spirit.” You can download a free copy from Bibles for America here. Prayerfully reading these chapters and practicing what you read will help you to use your spirit and to know your spirit. This is the basis for fellowship with the Lord and also the foundation for praying inquiring prayers.

      As I said in the post,
      “We should first use our spirit to contact God and allow Him to anoint His burden into us and give us His feeling. Then we can inquire according to this feeling for every item of our work–in this case, our visiting of people.”

      Please take this next step and the reply with any observations or questions.

      May the Lord richly bless you in your pursuit of Him and the life that fulfills His purpose.

  10. Vincent

    Thank you sir for this encouraging word… my eyes has been opened to see more pertaining praying along with the direction of the Holy spirit.
    But how can someone hear clearly the direction given by the Holy spirit during prayers?

    1. Tom Smith

      We hear the direction given by the Holy spirit during prayers mainly by the Spirit’s anointing. We need to pray ourselves out of our natural thoughts and concepts and into our spirit that is joined to the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17). In such a spirit mingled with the Lord we enter into fellowship with the Lord, receive His supply and endeavor to touch His feeling in prayer. In such a fellowship we have a certain sense of spirit and in it we can calmly inquire of the Lord as to what His feeling or desire is. When we have such a sense, we should simply pray according to that sense of the Lord, asking the Lord to do as He has spoken. Our prayer is simply to ask the Lord to do what He has already willed to do. Hope that helps. Thanks for your comment.

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