At the outset of her ministry, Mother Dabney entered into a covenant to pray. Her burning bush experience happened early one morning on the banks of the Schuylkill River. The presence of God overshadowed her as she threw down the prayer gauntlet. Here is her prayer:
“Lord, if You will bless my husband in the place You sent him to establish Your name, if You will break the bonds and destroy the middle wall of partition, if You will give him a church and congregation — a credit to Your people and all Christendom — I will walk with You for 3 years in prayer, both day and night. I will meet You every morning at 9. You will never have to wait for me; I will be there to greet You. I will stay there all day; I will devote all of my time to You. Furthermore, if You will listen to the voice of my supplication and break through in that wicked neighborhood and bless my husband, I will fast 72 hours each week for 2 years. While I am going through the fast, I will not go home to sleep in my bed. I will stay in church, and if I get sleepy, I'll rest on newspapers and carpet.”
As soon as she made that prayer covenant, it was like a spiritual cloudburst. Every morning at 9am, Mother Dabney greeted the Lord with a hearty, “Good morning, Jesus.” Her knees would often go numb from kneeling, but God extended His powerful right arm. Soon the mission was too small to accommodate those whom the Holy Spirit drew. And the more she prayed through, the more God broke through.
Mother Dabney's prayer legacy would be a long forgotten footnote if it were not for one headline. The Pentecostal Evangel published her testimony under the title, “What It Means to Pray Through.” That one article sparked a prayer movement all around the world. Mother Dabney received more than 3 million letters from people who wanted to know how to pray through.
In the grand scheme of God's story, there is a footnote behind every headline. The footnote is prayer. And if you focus on the footnotes, God will write the headlines. It is your prayers that changes the eternal plotline.
I love history, and in particular, a branch of history called counterfactual theory. Counterfactual theorists in simple terms ask the what if questions. For example, what if the American Revolution had failed, or what if Hitler had been victorious in World War II? How would history have unfolded differently? What would that alternate reality look like?
Reading biblical history like a counterfactual theorist is an interesting exercise. And the Jericho miracle is a great example. What if the Israelites had stopped circling on the sixth day? The answer is obvious: they would have forfeited the miracle right before it happened. If they had stopped circling after 12 round trips, they would have done a lot of walking for nothing. Like the generation before them, they would have defaulted on the promise. And the same is true for us.
God won't answer 100 percent of the prayers you don't pray.
PRAYING FOR VERSUS PRAYING THROUGH
Our generation desperately needs to rediscover the difference between praying for and praying through. There are certainly circumstances where praying for something will get the job done. I believe in short prayers before meals because, quite frankly, I believe in eating food while it's still hot. But there are also situations where you need to grab hold of the horns of the altar and refuse to let go until God answers.
I've stopped praying ASAP prayers — asking God to answer as soon as possible. I have started praying ALAT prayers — as long as it takes. Praying in circles is a metaphor that simply means praying until God answers. You intercede until God intervenes.
Praying through is all about consistency! It's circling Jericho so many times it makes you dizzy. Like the story Jesus told about the persistent widow who drove the judge crazy with her relentless requests, praying through does not take no for an answer. Circle makers know that it's always too soon to quit praying because you never know when the wall is about to fall. You are always only one prayer away from a miracle.
Praying through is all about intensity! It's not quantitative. It's qualitative. Drawing prayer circles involves more than words. It's gut-wrenching groans and heartbreaking tears. Praying through doesn't just bend God's ear; it touches the heart of your Heavenly Father.
When was the last time you found yourself flat on your face before the Almighty? When was the last time you cut off circulation kneeling before the Lord? When was the last time you pulled an all-nighter in prayer?
Try it today...it is time to PRAY THROUGH!