Pray Through What?
By Buell H. Kazee
If a lost sinner came to you seeking the way of salvation, would you tell him/her to do something which the Bible does not tell him to do? Well, that is just what anybody is doing when he tells a sinner to PRAY THROUGH. I challenge anybody to find one place in the Bible where it asks a sinner to “pray through” to salvation. The Bible is plain about the way of salvation. It never tells a sinner to “pray through.” And, if not, is it not wrong for us to tell him to do it?
“But,” you say, “what harm can there be in PRAYING THROUGH? Doesn’t it do them good, even though the Bible doesn’t teach it?”
The first objection is that it misleads sinners. Because, there actually isn’t anything for a sinner to pray through. Through what do you ask him to pray? Does God have bars up against him? Does He hold the sinner back until he (the sinner) breaks down God’s resistance and gets in? Does a lost sinner have to break through something to get into the kingdom? Through what does he have to pray? Is God trying to keep sinners out of Heaven?
The word of God is plain on salvation. First, the Word is preached and witnessed by those in whom the Spirit dwells. The Spirit takes the Word, and by it awakens the sinner to his lost condition, then offers him salvation on the terms of repentance and faith, not PRAYING THROUGH. God wants sinners saved; invites them to salvation; and His Spirit works in the sinner’s heart, through the Word, to that end. Then why ask a sinner to PRAY THROUGH when there is nothing to PRAY THROUGH.
Another objection is that it makes the sinner feel that he is doing something to atone for his sins. This is salvation by works. It is the same as the Roman Catholic ides of doing penance for sins, or atoning for them. But the Bible says, “By grace are ye saved, through faith, and not of yourselves: it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8, 9).
Another objection is that much of the so-called “praying through” is a mere fleshly emotionalism, worked by Satan’s help. This same thing, in the heathen worshippers, goes to the extreme of tearing their clothes, cutting themselves with knives, going into spells of unconsciousness. The snake handlers are another example of such frenzied fleshly indulgence. Satan finds those who want to feel the presence of God, and he deceives them by letting them have a feeling in the fleshly senses rather than through the Spirit. The sinner may be ever so earnest, and still be deceived. He is misled by the people and Satan, not by the Bible, for the Bible does not tell him to do this.
But some will say, “Doesn’t the sinner have to repent? And isn’t that repentance?” Surely he has to repent, but this is not repentance. The word in our Bible which means “repent,” is translated from the word in the Greek (the language which Jesus used, and in which the New Testament was first written) which means “change the mind.” The Prodigal Son “arose and came to his father”—this was repentance. A whole change of course, turning away from his way to the father’s way. He changed his mind about the whole thing. Sorrow for sin is not repentance. A godly sorrow worketh repentance, but it is not repentance. And a “godly” sorrow is that which the Holy Spirit produces in us when the Word tells us we are out of pace with God.
Crying is not repentance. Praying is not repentance. Confessing sin is not repentance. “Changing the mind” and turning to God and His way is repentance. So, “praying through” is not repentance.
God never said for lost sinners to cry and mourn and beg and be sorry until they get God in the notion of saving them. Yet, this is just what “praying through” is. God tells sinners to “Repent and believe the gospel.” This summarizes all that God asks of a sinner in order to be saved. God invites sinners to salvation: He isn’t holding them out of it, making them beg Him to let them in.
A sinner may call upon the name of the Lord for mercy. He may say, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” But he must take God’s mercy by faith in Jesus, or he can not go one step further. What is the use for a man to pray when he won’t receive what God offers him freely? Why not accept it and go on to eternal life, if a man wants it bad enough to pray? This is what God tells him to do.
Yes, a sinner may call on God for mercy, but he actually has no right to pray as the child of God does. He has no Father to pray to, so he can’t say, “Our Father who art in Heaven.” Jesus says in John 8:44 that a lost man is the child of the devil. He would have to pray to the devil if he prayed to his father.
Furthermore, he can’t ask for forgiveness of sins for God cannot forgive the sins of a man who has no Saviour. The only way God can take away our sins is to put them on our Saviour. The lost man has no Saviour, so, God cannot forgive his sins until he believes in Christ. Forgiveness is something God gives to His children, not to lost people. He cannot take away one single sin until we are children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
Then why tell a sinner to pray at all? Tell him to repent and believe the gospel. That is what the Bible tells him to do.
Who can pray through? The child of God! Long earnest prayers bring blessing. Jesus often prayed all night long. The disciples prayed ten days before Pentecost. Jesus and the Apostles urged us to pray often, and long, and earnestly, until the answer came. This is praying through. But this is not praying for salvation; it is praying for the blessings of God which are promised to His children, and only God’s children, praying through the name of Jesus who has saved them, can rightly expect an answer. Salvation comes to a sinner through repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21); but answers to prayers come to God’s children, through the name of the Saviour whom they have trusted.
Let us quit telling the lost sinner to do something God never told him to do. Let us quit making him feel like he must atone for his sins by sorrowing and crying and praying. Take this obstacle out of his way, and give him a more hopeful Gospel; one in which he may fine eternal life now.
Certainly, many people have been saved who have tried to PRAY THROUGH. But they were saved by repenting and believing the Gospel, not by PRAYING THROUGH. That is the way the Bible puts it, and if we can’t find “praying through” in the Bible, let us quit telling sinners to do it.
[From a tract. Transcribed and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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