There is an old and mostly forgotten term in the church called: to pray through. The term was used mainly in past Evangelical and Pentecostal churches during prayer meetings and sermons when describing a method of seeking God in order to get an answer to prayer. Yet, another long forgotten use for the term, was during the Altar call.
There was a time when the people who came forward to give their lives to Christ in many Evangelical and Pentecostal churches were led in a prayer of salvation, to ask Jesus to come into their lives. Then, they were instructed to get on the Altar and simply pray through, until the Spirit of God came and touched their hearts. Now-a-days this seems like a foreign term, or an old relic-like tradition of the past that is not suitable for the present.
I must disagree.
To pray through means to stay in the spirit of prayer until the sweet Holy Spirit carefully touches the heart in such a way that the Believer is assured that God has heard their prayer and is in the process of bringing an answer to their deepest need. That being said, as long as there is a need to seek God’s salvation, wisdom, and instruction, then there will be a need to pray through. As long as we are in need of the power of the Holy Spirit to invade our dark and dreary lives, then there is a need to pray through until we hear from God.
We cannot outgrow seeking the Lord through prayer!
Are There Examples In The Bible of People Praying Through?
There was a time, in the early church, when the people of God were under great persecution. Several church leaders had already been arrested and one was even executed for the faith. Then, the main leader of the church was arrested, and the church began to pray. They prayed all day and prayed earnestly for the release and safety of the Apostle Peter. While they were still praying, God sent an answer to their prayers as we see in Acts chapter 12 and verses 5-8, (reading from the King James version) it says,
(5)’Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.’
(6)’And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.’
(7)’And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.’
(8)’And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.’
Now that was amazing, in and of itself, just having an Angel of the Lord come and rescue Peter from prison, but let us, also, consider how intense the prayers of the church were in verses 12-16,
(12)’And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.’
(13)’And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.’
(14)’And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.’
(15)’And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.’
(16)’But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.’
Notice how, although the church group were gathered in an intense prayer meeting, they could hardly believe how God had so quickly answered their prayers before they could even finished praying. Why? It is because, as we see in verse 5, “…prayer was made without ceasing…” They were seriously calling on the Lord, Who saved them, and Who filled them with the Holy Ghost, to deliver Peter. And God answered them in a spectacular fashion after they had prayed through.
There is something about when we pray through that settles it in our spirits that we have reached the Throne of Almighty God. Faith can rise, because when we have sought the Lord with the help of the Holy Ghost, and the Lord gives us peace about an issue, there is a confidence in this assurance in our spirits that increases our faith.
How Does This Relate To Salvation?
When people respond to an Altar call of some sort, whether in a church, or in a home, or even in a back-alley somewhere, after they are led in a sinners’ prayer, they should be instructed to settle it with God by going aside and praying (in their own words) for:
- God’s forgiveness for any known habitual sins.
- God’s deliverance from any bondage they may have to sin (alcohol, drugs, porn, lust, lying, stealing, killing, fornication, adultery, cheating, and taking God’s name in vain); and they should repent of each sin.
- They should ask for the in-filling of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues (a language that they are not familiar with and have never spoken before).
- They should ask for the Grace to hear and obey the voice of the Lord.
When new converts are allowed to pray through in this manner they can be assured by an inward JOY and PEACE that they receive from the Holy Spirit that they have, indeed, entered into the family of the Lord and are saved. This is the missing element and the reason that many who respond to our Altar calls return to the lifestyle that they were suppose to be delivered from.
They are not truly saved, just because they repeated a prayer. It does them no good to repeat a prayer and not really know what they are saying or to not really believe what they are repeating. Our churches are full of unsaved saints. And, don’t get me wrong, I know some are saved while they are in the pews or as they obey the voice of the Holy Spirit to respond to the Altar call, while they are moving forward, God saves them on the spot.
But they have got to make Jesus Lord by praying through. We should encourage them, right then and there, to develop a prayer life, where we may furnish them a general outline of prayer, but they must furnish their own words from their hearts to truly touch the heart of God. When the church starts to do this, a real revival of salvation and godliness will take place in the nations, and the church will be a church without spot or wrinkles, washed in the blood of Jesus Christ. A-men!