Praying Through…by Br. Nelson
The other day I was listening to a podcast and the host mentioned the concept of “Praying Through.” It was a term I had not heard in a long while, and I was uncertain of its meaning. The idea intrigued me so I began researching. This is what I found:
“Praying Through” is a concept that has, for the most part, been lost in the modern church. Many used to greet each other with “Good morning! Have you prayed through today?” However, over time, people began to feel that questioning their prayer life (even if only in the form of a greeting) was offensive. So, in order to not make people feel uncomfortable about their lack of prayer, the custom dwindled.
The concept is very simple: Begin praying and do not stop until you’ve “prayed through.” First, however, we must go through a key step of preparation. Psalm 66:18 and 19 states,
“If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.”
Proverbs 15:29 declares,
“The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.”
These (and many scriptures) make it clear: God does not hear the prayers of the wicked. Today, there are many in hospitals, school desks, mosques and churches, crying out to God in some form of prayer; seeking deliverance from an ailment or the latest stress. Their prayers end at the ceiling. God does not hear the prayers of the lost, other than the prayer “SAVE ME! I AM A SINNER!”
Now, we know if we are in Christ, we are clean. Our life, and all its sin, is hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:3). However, the principle is similar: God does not hear the prayers of those who cherish (regard it as something precious they cannot do without) in their hearts. Unconfessed sin is a barrier between us and God. Unconfessed sin grieves the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30), and we are ill-advised to do that.
So, before we can “Pray Through” (I’ll get to the definition is a moment), we must bow before God in humble submission and confess our sin. I would recommend naming the sin (or sins) and tell God that you “no longer regard the sin of _____.” It’s real easy and real hard at the same time. Treat your sin with the contempt it deserves. Hate it. Loathe it. Disregard it. Count it as filthiness before a holy God.
Sin comes in all sizes and shapes. Some sins are easy to name; they stand out. Some, on the other hand, are hiding in the shadows of our lives. We need God to help us seek them out. We need the assistance of the Holy Spirit as we embark on a “search and destroy” mission. Perhaps your sin is abundantly clear and “ever before” you like David’s (Psalm 51:3). It could be a hidden. It may be that your greatest sin is the sin of passivity towards God; your lack of prayer and devotion to Him. The sin of prayerlessness grieves the heart of God. We must confess it and repent of it.
In every way we need His help in identifying our sin. We must be like Job when he said “Make me know my transgression and my sin” – Job 13:23. We must follow David’s advice when he cried, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” – Psalms 139:23, 24
Need some help? Here’s a guide:
“Father God, I come to you and ask that You shine the light of your holiness into my life. Uncover the hidden works of darkness I am so good at hiding sin and I’ve hidden some of my sin so well that I don’t even know where to start looking. Search me, O God, and make my grievous ways known to me that I might confess them. Show me my secret idols and purge from me those things that keep me from walking in fullness with You; those things that keep me from the abundant life I am promised in Christ. I am sorry that I have sinned the sin of _____. I know you have forgiven me through the precious blood of Jesus Christ, but I am sorry nonetheless. Holy Spirit, I ask you to forgive me for grieving you. I know I have grieved You and I am sorry I disobeyed the Word of God and disregarded the commands of my Lord Jesus. I count the sin of ____ as nothing to me. I regard it as nothing. I loathe it and I do not want it to be a part of my life any longer. I cast it far away from me and my deepest desires are that I never see it again. I need You. I cannot overcome this sin without You. I am totally dependent upon You Lord Jesus. I am but a branch and my sin makes me worthy of being cut away and cast into the fire. I know that apart from You, this is my lot and my just reward. I cannot live this Holy life without You. I need Your help. I throw myself upon your throne and beg for mercy. Cleanse me Lord and make me hate the sin of _____ like you hate the sin of _____.”
This prayer should be prayed from your heart, not from your eyes (as you read) and your mouth (as you speak what you read). My recommendation is to find a private place and pour yourself out to God. This process should not just take the minute it takes to read the “script.” You should stay before the throne until you receive His pardon. You’ll know it when it comes. There is an invisible wall of Holiness that surrounds the throne of God. We know that God hears the prayers of those in Christ, but it takes special effort to penetrate this wall and to get a touch from God. This is “Praying Through.”
“Praying Through” is taking prayer to the next level. In order to enlist the assistance of the heavenly hosts, we must “Pray Through.” We cannot survive this life without a touch from our Father. We get that when we “Pray Through.” When you’ve “Prayed Through” everything changes at that time. That’s where the presence of God is.
“Praying Through” is also travailing prayer. It’s prayer that doesn’t give up until it has its answer. This is the fervent and effective prayer we read about in James 5:16. It’s important to remember that not just any ol’ Christian has that dynamic and effective prayer that has great power. It’s the “righteous” Christian who is promised this type of fruitful prayer.
There is a difference between “praying and Praying Through.” We must never forget that short prayers are just as much a part of the believer’s life as long, travailing prayer. Short, silent prayers can be just as effective as prayers that are “Prayed Through,” provided there is a foundation of “Praying Through” to stand on. There is a time and a place for short prayers. Nehemiah prayed a short prayer when he was standing before Artaxerxes (Nehemiah 2:2-5). Peter prayed the shortest prayer in the Bible when he cried out ‘LORD! SAVE ME!”, as his solid faith became waves of doubt (Matthew 14:30).
There are also situations that require us to be like Jacob. There are times when we must grab hold of the Lord and declare: “I will NOT let go until you bless me!” (Genesis 32:26). “Praying Through” is loud and intense, not silent and passive. It’s fervent. It’s active. It often engages the whole of our being, not just our thoughts. Scripture often describes this type of praying:
“Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry come to you!” – Psalm 102:1
“Because of my loud groaning my bones cling to my flesh.” – Psalm 102:5
“I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping.” – Psalm 6:6
“With my voice I cry out to the LORD; with my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD. I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him.” – Psalm 142: 1, 2
“…the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping.” – Psalm 6:8
“I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill.” – Psalm 3:4
I believe “Praying Through” is what Jeremiah was speaking of when he said:
“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:13
And I believe Paul alludes to this in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 when he says “pray without ceasing.”
“Praying Through” is praying “until.” It is not giving up until you have broken through the invisible barrier that surrounds the throne. It is praying without ceasing until you’ve laid aside your flesh and entered God’s presence.
As I embarked upon this journey of discovering the true meaning of “Praying Through,” it just so happened (one of those “God-incidences”) I read the short bio of John Hyde in the book “They Found the Secret.” Hyde’s life was a narrative of “Praying Through.” His was a tremendous life dedicated to prayer, the sort of dedication this is certainly a gift from the Father. Hyde was a man who was devoted to “Praying Through” and his responses to trials and tribulations showed the importance of this idea of being constantly and intimately in the presence of God.
“Praying Through” is tough. It’s like climbing a mountain on a bicycle. The climb is long, tiresome and challenging. However, once on top it’s EXHILERATING! Once you have prayed though, your prayers move with great speed and little effort and the view is tremendous!
Jesus Himself spoke of “Praying Through” in Luke 18:
“And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.'” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?” – Luke 18:1-7
Jesus is clear: We must be persistent and “push through” with our petitions. We must be persistent in pushing up the hill. There is no set amount of time it takes to “Pray Through.” Honestly, how long it takes depends on the condition of your life and how much sin you have to deal with. Your first trip up the mountain can take hours, but it’s worth it. When you reach the top, there is found the presence of God that is unmistakable. You feel His touch and grace. You feel power as the Holy Spirit is loosed into your life. It is at that moment God releases the resources of heaven and sends them to your aid. It’s there you find mercy overflowing and abundant love.
On the teaching of persistent prayer in Luke 18, John Calvin said this:
“We know that perseverance in prayer is a rare and difficult attainment; and it is a manifestation of our unbelief that, when our first prayers are not successful, we immediately throw away not only hope, but all the ardor of prayer. But it is an undoubted evidence of our Faith, if we are disappointed of our wish, and yet do not lose courage. Most properly, therefore, does Christ recommend to his disciples to persevere in praying.”
Looking back on my life I can recall many times when I “Prayed Through,” I just didn’t know that’s what I had done. My mistake was not seizing that moment and that momentum. My mistake was allowing myself to fall back down the mountain. Every trip down means another tortuous journey to the top. I can testify that “Praying Through” is easier if you stay on the mountain. Instead of an hour or two of climbing, it’s a quick 5 minute walk. My advice: Once you’ve “Prayed Through,” stay there!
Have you “Prayed Through” recently? Have you ever? If you don’t know the answer, odds are you haven’t. “Praying Through” is one of those things in life that are pretty unmistakable. Once you’ve done it, you know it. Psalms 16:11 says, “in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” “Praying Through” brings us into the presence of the Lord. If you’ve been in His presence, you’ve had that fullness of joy; you’ve felt the pleasures of His right hand. There is no mistaking what it is. You can look at pictures of Pike’s Peak in a book or online, but when you’ve been to the top, you know it.
If you are looking for more power in your Christian life, power over besetting sin, or just looking to take a deeper walk in your journey, I urge you to not only fast, but “Pray Through.” It’s simple and hard at the same time. Find a time that’s “wide open,” a place you will not be disturbed, somewhere you can cry aloud to God, and get to it! If you fail on your first trip up, don’t lose heart. Keep trying. Don’t stop. Set another appointment for another time and make another go at it. God “is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” – Hebrews 11:6
It’s worth it! The view up there…well…it can’t be beat!
“Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.” – Psalm 24:4, 5