Prayer is a spiritual exercise that draws on every faculty of the human personality. But that’s not all. It is the active engagement with the Holy Spirit to bring to birth the fulfilment of God’s promises.
I was blessed to have two parents who prayed. They really prayed. Growing up, I was able to observe first hand how prayer worked in real situations. A typical week in our house was marked by my Mom sharing a story of someone she has met who needed a touch from God, or my Dad (a pastor) engaging an issue in the church. Their first go-to strategy was always prayer. Joining together heart to heart, sometimes hand in hand and always with fervent expectation, prayer was a powerful tool for the Nielsen family.
The Pray Through Effect
Once I asked my Dad how much we needed to pray for something before we knew we had prayed enough. His immediate answer was “you pray until you have prayed through.” He went on to explain that the Lord lays a burden on people so that they will begin to pray. “But why would God bother to burden us?” I asked. My Dad’s answer was simple but profound: Sharing the burden with us was Christ’s way of including us in his purposes. God could do it all Himself, but He wants to share with us the joy of victory. The “burden” is the Spirit’s way of conscripting our cooperation in the task of bringing to birth God’s purposes so we can discover the wonders of His grace.
Many years after this conversation with my Dad, I was leading a missions team and had an intern challenge the idea that God needed us to pray. His assertion was that God can and will act whether we pray or not. I countered back with the argument that the whole narrative of scripture contradicts this view. But still he persisted on the basis that because God is God, He doesn’t need anybody. I agreed with him on that point but countered with a statement that left him speechless: “God doesn’t need our prayers. But He desires our prayers. Don’t you want to fulfill His desire?”
We the church are described as the Bride of Christ, We are co-heirs with him. He has invited us to the dance, if you will! We read in Revelation 2:17:
“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’”
Again, in Romans 8:26-27:
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”
Once we are recruited to the task of intercession by the Holy Spirit and we offer ourselves wholeheartedly to the task, the Holy Spirit does, in fact, pray through us. But we are very active in the struggle as we offer our hearts, minds and souls to the process of calling on God for deliverance and blessing in a situation.
My Dad didn’t leave the issue shrouded in mystery. He said he always knew when he had prayed through because he would feel the burden lift. Everything would shift, like the clouds opening up and the sun coming through in radiant glory. There would be a sense of relief, of breakthrough, of resolution in the spiritual realm. He could rise up from his knees and rejoice in the Lord, knowing his prayer was heard and the answer was in process.
Is this “prayed through” moment the end of the matter? Certainly not! But it is one battle won in the Lamb’s victorious plan that we are destined to participate in as we press forward in God’s calling and purpose.
Want to to read more on the subject of our partnership with Christ in the area of prayer? I have an amazing book for your to consider. It is only available in paperback (not digital download), but in our opinion it should be required reading for every Christian! Destined for the Throne by Paul Billheimer. Check it out below:
Beautifully written dad, I loved this piece you made & it’s so true!! Grandpa had gold nuggets of wisdom in saying that we should pray until we have prayed through:) I love it