Christian preachers, writers and teachers of years past frequently used a phrase that is seldom spoken anymore, it seems: “praying through.”
One of those was Samuel Logan Brengle, a personal faith hero of mine. Brengle was an influential 19th and early 20th century preacher and author. He ministered for more than 40 years as a Salvation Army officer and eventually wrote nine books on the topic of personal holiness.
In one of his books, Brengle wrote about “praying through”:
If people who are not satisfied in their experience would take time to “pray through,” they would find their dark tunnels leading out into a large place and into broad day. Jesus still lives and keeps “watch above His own” who hunger to be right. And He pours out the Holy Spirit upon everyone who obeys Him and seeks Him wholeheartedly. But before we can be filled we must be emptied. Before we can have the “more abundant life” we must die to sin. The old sinful nature must be crucified and put off before Jesus can abide in our hearts and satisfy the hunger of our souls.
Are you satisfied? If not, begin right now and stir up yourself to seek until you have found. Rouse yourself. Find a secret place and pray, and pray again, and yet again, and you shall “pray through” and be satisfied. I know, for I have prayed through. I know, for Jesus has said, “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7, NLT). And what Jesus has said is true.
(Excerpt from Ancient Prophets and Modern Problems by Samuel Logan Brengle; Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2016, pp. 60-61)
“Praying through” is not overcoming God’s reluctance, for He is a prayer-answering God (see Isaiah 65:24). It is often a necessary exercise, however, in conquering our own laziness, unbelief or indifference. It is not so much storming the gates of heaven as it is a way of subduing our weaknesses and shaping our desires until we want what God wills and can pray accordingly, and therefore powerfully.
“Praying through” means wrestling with God, as Jacob did, until daybreak, if necessary—even if it leaves you with a limp (see Genesis 32). It means pressing through whatever obstacles impede your petition, as did the woman with the hemorrhage (Matthew 9:20–22, Mark 5:25–34, Luke 8:43–48). It means praying, and praying again, and yet again, as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46) and as Paul did in seeking deliverance from his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). It may sometimes mean saying to God, “I will not let you go unless you bless me” (Genesis 32:26, NIV).
So do as Brengle says, and rouse yourself. Find a secret place and pray, and pray again, and yet again, and you shall “pray through.”