May 21, 2021
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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. Where you refuse to move from the circle until God moves. 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 won’t 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.
Many years ago, I attended the president’s Easter prayer breakfast at the White House, along with a couple hundred religious leaders from across the country. Before breakfast, a seventy-six-year-old African-American preacher who served alongside Martin Luther King Jr. in the civil rights movement said a prayer. I could barely hear his words, but his faith was loud and clear. He prayed with such a familiarity with the Father that it was convicting. It’s like his words were deep-fried in the faithfulness of God.
After he said amen, I turned to some of my pastor-friends and said, “I feel like I’ve never prayed before.” I felt like he knew God in a way that I didn’t, and it challenged me to get closer to God. I wonder if that’s how the disciples felt when they asked Jesus to teach them to pray. His prayers were so qualitatively different that they felt like they had never prayed before.
When was the last time you found yourself flat on your face before the Almighty? When was the last time you cut off your circulation kneeling before the Lord? When was the last time you pulled an all-nighter in prayer?
There are higher heights and deeper depths in prayer, and God wants to take you there. He wants to take you places you have never been before. There are new dialects. There are new dimensions. But if you want God to do something new in your life, you can’t do the same old thing.
It will involve more sacrifice, but if you are willing to go there, you’ll realize that you didn’t sacrifice anything at all. It will involve more risk, but if you are willing to go there, you’ll realize that you didn’t risk anything at all.
Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC. NCC also owns and operates Ebenezers Coffeehouse, The Miracle Theatre, and the DC Dream Center. Mark holds a doctor of ministry degree from Regent University and is the New York Times bestselling author of 17 books, including The Circle Maker, Chase the Lion, and Whisper. Mark and his wife, Lora, have three children and live on Capitol Hill.