I would kneel on the floor until I wore the skin off my knees.
In 1925, the Lord told Bishop Charles Harrison Mason to send Elder O.T. Jones to pastor a large mission in Philadelphia. Elder Jones asked if my husband, Elder E.H. Dabney, and I could assist him. Bishop Mason said yes, and told me my job was to pray and write for the church.
One afternoon the Lord called my attention to [a bad] situation in the neighborhood. I asked God if He would give us the victory if I made a covenant with Him to pray. He said He would. God told me to meet Him the next morning at the Schuylkill River at 7:30.
I went home and asked my husband to take me to Riverside Drive the next morning. ... I was so afraid I would miss the appointment with the Lord that I sat up all night and crocheted. I dared not put my trust or confidence in an alarm clock. We arrived at a place where a tree was bent over the road, and the Lord said: "This is the place."
As I stood [alone] between two large stones, the presence of God overshadowed me, and I acknowledged His presence with tears, and a delighted "Good morning, Jesus." I said:
"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 three years in prayer, both day and night. I will meet You every morning at 9 a.m. sharp; 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 two 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 I had made a covenant, the heavens opened, and the glory of the Lord fell from heaven all around me. I knew He had prepared me to enter into prayer ministry.
At 9 a.m. each day the door knob of the church would turn, and I would greet the Lord with a hearty, "Good morning, Jesus." I would kneel and pray until I wore all the skin off my knees on those hard floors. I suffered. The flesh on my bones was numb, and I fasted, not eating or drinking natural food—but I had a direct supply from heaven.
Soon the mission was too small to accommodate the people, and my husband requested that I pray for another place nearby. I prayed, and a man who had been in business for 25 years decided to rent us the building.
By this time, I realized the Lord was showing me some of His glory, but the people did not understand why I devoted so much time to church. These were not sinners; they professed to love God as I did. They would come to the church and pull and shake me to get me to leave the altar, but I never opened my eyes. The devil put out diabolical propaganda that I was "an old witch" and a "magic book reader."
But when they came and saw my tear-stained face, they repented with tears for allowing the devil to sow evil seeds into their minds. The Lord was so sweet in my soul. He amused me with the Scriptures and supported me with His arms.
I had no idea that I would ever see my name in the headlines of newspapers and magazines, but the Pentecostal Evangel published my testimony under the title "What It Means to Pray Through." As a result, I received more than 3 million letters from all parts of the world from people wanting to know what it means to pray through.
Mother Elizabeth J. Dabney was a Church of God in Christ pastor's wife and powerful intercessor in the early 1900s. This column was adapted from What It Means to Pray Through by Mother Elizabeth J. Dabney, first reprinted by Church of God in Christ Publishing House in 1987. Used by permission. To read more about Mother Dabney's story or to purchase her book, here.