My church (http://www.ampchurch.org/) offers 2 opportunities per week for intercessory prayer; one on Wednesday mornings from 8:30-11:00am, and the other before service on Saturdays at 5:30pm. Since we are adding a third opportunity on the last Wednesday evening of every month I thought it would be good to brainstorm a bit from Scripture on the subject of intercession, also known as intercessory prayer. This blog post is not meant to be definitive, nor comprehensive, it’s simply an introduction to the subject as I have come to know and understand and practice it at this point in my life, and in the prayer life here at AMP Church.
I’m hoping to answer questions like these: Why do you do this? What exactly is it that you do? What’s the agenda? Is this for me? What are the qualifications for an intercessor? What are the results? Etc.
What I will so is first ask the question, then set the appropriate Scripture in place, and finish up with some explanatory notes.
The first question to answer is, Why do we do this?:
“I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” Genesis 15:1
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:7-14
And the one thing that motivates me most strongly in this work of devotion I find in the Philippians passage mentioned above: I WANT MORE OF JESUS. And I’ll do whatever I can to get more of Him, to get closer to Him, to hear Him more clearly, to see Him by faith more completely, to enjoy Him more thoroughly, and to represent Him better and better, every day. I just want more of Him.
You know, it turns out there is no proven formula, no 1-2-3 cookbook approach, no “30 days to Glory” process I can employ to fulfill this quest of mine. I simply need to spend more time with Him directly, and leave the results to Him. I do that by worshipping Him (through songs of praise and worship, both set and spontaneous), allowing Him to fill me with Himself more and more over time. I do that by spending concentrated, set apart times in His Word.
Now then, the math is simple here. If I want to be a good husband I need to devote all kinds of hours of spending time with my beautiful bride, getting to know her, serving her, listening to her, and then serving her better with the things that I learn about her. If I want to be a better golfer, I need to play more golf, get some lessons, and then go practice what I learn. If I want to play guitar well I’m going to have to practice and learn new techniques, and then practice the things that I learn. There’s no magic involved in any of this.
So it is with the relationship I treasure most highly, my relationship with Jesus Christ, Papa, and Holy Ghost. I have to spend concentrated, devoted time with them, in exuberant, all-out worship and prayer, careful Scripture study, etc., if I want to grow and excel in my relationship with Him.
So then, we are just looking for more of Jesus in our times of intercession together.
Next comes the question, What exactly is it that we do?:
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4
Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God. Ephesians 5:17-21
We go after Him, we press into Him, very deliberately and with all we’ve got. We don’t hold back, and we are not going to be indifferent and unmoved in the Presence of God. We are going to cut loose and give Him our best, forcing ourselves at times to offer Him a true sacrifice of worship and praise.
(Sometimes we just don’t feel it, you know? It’s these very times when we can offer Him one of the richest offerings we have to give Him, a true sacrifice of praise not contingent on how we are feeling at a particular point in time!: Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. Hebrews 13:15)
We go after Him by spending a lot of time simply worshipping Him with songs of praise, adoration, contrition, deliverance, proclamation, triumph, quiet meditation, intimate spiritual embrace, etc. The range of songs we employ runs the entire gamut of interaction we find in the book of the Psalms. (The Psalms are an excellent place to start and continue building a personal life of Scripture-soaked worship and prayer with the Lord. More on that in another post.)
We also give opportunity for those who are feeling it to lead all of us in intercession for one thing or another; situations like Israel, the Mideast crisis, the families of Maui, human trafficking, the outpouring of God’s Spirit on our Islands, the finances of the church’s families, someone with a particular affliction, etc. And what we often find is really cool! For we discover we are often praying about and thinking along the same lines, evidence that our prayer time is being led by Holy Spirit, which is really, really awesome! Or we will come to intercession with some particular burden and find that others are already sharing in that burden, carrying inside themselves the laboring of the groaning intercessory prayer ministry of the Holy Spirit Himself (see the Romans 8 passage just below). Let me tell you it is a shocking and incredible feeling to find you are knit together with others of like mind, being lead by the Spirit at the same time and in the same way – it is AWESOME!!
So then a person will take the lead, letting us know they have something for us all to agree on, and we will stand together with them in vocal agreement, sometimes joining in to second and confirm what’s being prayed.
Next up, answering the question, What is the agenda?:
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27
And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: “Praise the Lord, For His mercy endures forever.” Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. 2 Chron. 20:21-22
We don’t have set times and predefined sections for these times together. (And yes, there is a good bit of Spirit language praying, in accordance with the Romans passage above.) We have (so far) found it best to just let Papa lead us how He wants. (We do appoint one person to take the lead for the session on an overall basis, but their job is to simply respect the time commitments and constraints of everyone involved, and facilitate smooth beginnings, transitions, and endings.)
Another question we might answer is this: Is this for me?:
Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’ ” Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:1-8
My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. Psalms 63:1-4
This is for you if you want to get closer to Jesus, and are willing to open your heart up to His Presence and His ministry to your life through worship and prayer. This is for you if you are hungry for more of Him, and for more of the things of God. This is for you if you find yourself longing to see change in your life, in your relationships, in your family, in your community, in your vocation, and in your world, and you know that only God make these changes happen. This is for you if you want to learn how to get prayers answered, and you want to see God move in supernatural, miraculous ways. This is for you if you’ve ever been touched by the Lord, and simply want to feel His touch more and more deeply in your life.
You might also ask, What are the qualifications?:
For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 1 Corinthians 1:26
These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. Revelation 14:4
Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. 1 Timothy 4:15
The only qualifications are: you know you are called by God to be His, and you are willing to be led by Jesus. There are no prerequisites here. You don’t have to have a certain spiritual gift, or have attained a certain level of holiness, or have your halo brightly shined to a particular hue of gold. No, none of that at all! You just need to be willing to come, to give yourself to prayer, and to seek His face. And I would also say, you need to be willing to give yourself time to grow in this service to Jesus. Nothing happens overnight, and the prize goes to the patient ones who endure and persist and continue. You should absolutely have a desire and a need to move on and move up in your relationship with God!!!
What kind of results can you expect?:
He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6
Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. James 5:17-18
So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” Matt. 21:21-22
I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears. Psalms 34:4
So then, how about it? Try these on for size:
- Getting touched by Him.
- Gaining a renewed sense of purpose and destiny.
- Seeing God act as a result of prayer.
- Learning how to pray effectively from Holy Spirit alongside others who are doing the same.
- Receiving clarity in situations requiring God’s wisdom.
- Finding provision in the face of the impossible.
- Experiencing a growing ability to walk in His manifest Presence.
- Feasting on the great joy that is intimacy with God.
- Seeing heaven come to earth – your earth!
I’d like to close with a word of testimony. The year 2004 found my life in complete shambles. I was getting divorced, my children no longer spoke with me, I had shipwrecked my career, I was broke, and I was devoid of any kind of sense of purpose in life whatsoever. My conscience was a disaster area, I had several life-dominating addictions, and I “kneweth not GOD.” My heavenly Prince of Peace saw to it that I ended up one Friday night in a Foursquare church in Houston, Texas (Victory Christian Center, Pastor Tony Krishack) where I learned about both preservice “soaking” prayer and weekly “intercession” prayer meetings. Now, that church absolutely majors in the Presence of God, and I observed that the people most affected by His Presence, whose joy and peace were both contagious and consistent, were the intercessory crew. So I started going. And I loved these times so much! I felt His Presence all around me and inside of me! And I received ministry, both from the Lord and from my new-found Jesus-hungry friends. (Thanks Ken Spaugh, Becky Wiley, Glen and Betty Ann Hurley, Robert Wood, Mark and Deborah Tusinski, Jeff and Dorothy Kelso, Terry Gilbert, Tina Tyson, and many others.) The result was that God, by His Word and His Presence, “re-harvested” my soul, and restored so many important things to me, starting with a renewed conscience and a “new creation” life of true, inner holiness (thanks to the accurate preaching of the Cross, just like we hear at my home church (AMP) here on Maui). I also regained my kids, my career, and my sense of purpose, destiny, and calling. And in this new place of restoration and renewal I happily walk, and grow in on a daily basis…thanks, God!