The Heart of Intercession
The specific task of intercession is for some those who have been called and so gifted to fulfill this ministry. Such an intercessor may be given a one off gifting for deep intercession or for a more sustained period. For such a person, identification with the heart of God is not a choice. Initially, she (see next section regarding the usage of a female pronoun) may not be aware of the need to do so. But as she begins to pray for someone intentionally, she may experience a change of mood in herself or the others who pray with her. The reason is that she does not intercede for someone to please herself or others but to please God. It can be painful as His holy fire refines her for this task. A heaviness descends on the servant of God till she has no other option but to pray according to God’s will no matter how she feels. As she prays to the Father a breakthrough comes and that is when her heart is filled with joy as He has carried that burden off her shoulders and shifted them to His!
Hence the need to confess sins, identify weaknesses to be totally dependent on God.
The intercessor’s heart believes God, feels with Him in agony and storms heaven’s door; she is relieved only when convinced that God has heard and will answer according to His will and way in His time i.e. God has taken over the situation…the intercessor feels relieved…and goes on to the next situation for intercession! If He has heard, He will surely answer in His perfect time. The breakthrough may be immediate or more often, later e.g. hours, days, months or years.
Why Intercessors are more often Women than Men.
As praying till a breakthrough comes requires patience and time in perseverance, women are often chosen and needed to carry out this task (about 80% of intercessors are females). Generally, most women have personalities that are more personal and enduring specifically as many have experienced months of pregnancy (where they are attached to their beloved growing babies) and hours of labour pains. Our Creator knows which gifting is matched to which person and task! Of course, He may at times use anyone, male or female, He sees fit for the task. There are firm and gentler intercessors and there are bolder and more aggressive ones!
Jesus taught in Matthew 6:5-15…
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
This, then, is how you should pray…”
- In secret
- With no noisy repeated words as it will not affect the Father’s listening to you. He knows what you need already. Don’t waste your time and energy in beating around the bush!
- With trust in the Father’s desire to listen to you and answer you i.e. be real and sincere…pray with no pretense.
Intercession is also prayer presented
- Face to face before God because the curtain has been removed by Jesus
- From one who is of lower status to One of higher status
- In order to seek answers on behalf of another person or persons
- Confidently that God will listen and grant the petition according to His will
- In an attitude like that of a priest standing on the side of sinful man in identification with another in their situation.
She comes to the Father God
- Compassionately i.e. withunderstanding of broken human needs
- Non-judgmentally and
- Persistently e.g. the importunate widow in Jesus’s parables
Our supreme model is Jesus, the Great High Priest, who identifies with us and intercedes for us
Our human models e.g.
- Abraham who bargained with God’s representative on behalf of sinful nations, like Sodom and Gomorrah
- Hannah prayed softly and on behalf of her personal dignity as a Jewish woman being despised by mistress. She prays for God’s honour as she is a Jew, the chosen people (by grace and not by genetics since Jesus’ atonement on the cross for the whole world)
- Jehoshaphat who cried to God on behalf of the Israelite nation because of His covenant with Abraham, their ancestor, because Abraham trusted Him to take His descendants to the promised Canaan where the Messiah was to come
- Habakkuk agonized for God’s deliverance from Israel’s enemies
- Daniel who and prophesied faithfully and interceded accurately though he did not see the fulfillment of his prophesies in his time
- Peter prayed for the church under persecution
- Paul prayed for early church growth and against hindrances and discouragement
Sometime the intercessor has to be neutral i.e. not practice favouritism or prejudice but be objective in praying according to God’s will on earth as it is in heaven. Discipline is expected and required out of obedience and loyalty to Christ alone. He, the Son of God, does not ask us to do what He does not do. Jesus did stress that He did what His Father did, and said what His Father said. We also, therefore, must do the same if we desire to follow in His step in this modern world today. God cannot lie and does not change.
- Ponder on the above
- Have I been praying for others according to God’s heart and will for them?
- Do I pray for them one off in time or longer, at His prompting?
- Does it really matter whether we are called or labelled as intercessors or not as long as we pray humbly, sincerely and most times secretly, depending on Him to answer according to His will but not ours?
- Do I have the specific gift of intercession? (You may like to read ‘Your Spiritual Gift May Help Your Church Grow’ by Peter Wagner 1st edition.)
- Do I practice it? This one gift that is always needed while on earth. Note that every of God’s children intercede some of the time but those who have the gift do it more often and more intensely.
Spiritual gifts, such as intercession, are to be used with the fruit of the Holy Spirit! He may take them away if buried or misused (used apart from the fruit of love, joy, peace, kindness, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, humility and self-control)! The joy of receiving His approval is His reward.
Identification of Intercession by Dr, Valerie s. Depastino (Whitaker House 1988) This little book addresses the issue of intercession for the “ordinary” Christian. It is worth reading to learn from the author what such a quiet yet powerful and necessary ministry/service entails. Further, even those home bound and/or aged can fulfill this task of intercession!