Praying through is not a term that is used much now. However there was a time when it was quite common.
The idea behind it was that there were those times in life when you needed a special breakthrough. When you desperately needed to meet with God. Sometimes it was to do with adverse personal circumstances. Your life, business, family was in some kind of danger. You needed to get before God and pray through. Or perhaps the praying through was inspired by your quest for a deeper walk with God. Perhaps there was a sense of powerlessness, or you wanted to be filled with the Spirit, so you prayed through.
The great leaders of church history knew about this kind of prayer. More recent examples like David Wilkerson and Smith Wigglesworth knew all about praying until you had an answer. Wigglesworth, it is said, would, to use his words, storm the throne of grace until he had an answer from God.
And of course, you see it throughout the Bible. Moses (Exodus 32). King Hezekiah (2 Kings 19.14-19). The early church (Acts 12.1-18). Paul (2 Corinthians 12). And of course, the Lord Himself (Luke 6.12-16).
Perhaps the most famous example, however, is that of Jacob (Genesis 32.22-32)
Before meeting his estranged brother for the first time in twenty years, Jacob spent a night wrestling with God. The story is a little mysterious. He meets an unnamed man who begins to wrestle with him. It becomes evident that this is some sort of supernatural being and eventually it becomes clear that Jacob has been wrestling God.
Praying through was life changing for Jacob.
It made him confront his past and it brought about an awareness of who he really was: “I am Jacob” was as much a confession of guilt as it was a disclosure of his name. His name revealed his character. He was a deceiver, a usurper, and his character had created trouble both with Esau and Laban.
When we pray through, we meet our true selves. We see our own weakness. Our own inability. Our need for God.
Jacob found himself with his hip put out of joint as a result of the wrestle. The experience broke him and he carried that brokenness throughout his life.
But he also emerged a blessed man. He had a new name, Israel, expressing the thought that he had wrestled with God and men and had prevailed. From then on he was no longer to see himself as a deceiver but as an overcomer. And of course, it gave him confidence to meet with Esau.
The church of today is blessed with resources the like of which we have never known. But none of them is a substitute for praying through.
If you need answers or if you hunger for what sometimes seems that illusive deeper walk with God, praying through is a must. You’ll find out something about God – and about yourself. And – a word of warning – you might just get more than you bargained for!