Intercessory Prayer is a truly honourable role for any member of the body of Christ to be involved. In fact at some stage in our life in Christ we will find ourselves in the position of interceding for someone; praying for those unable to pray for themselves. Intercessory prayer requires strong faith and a strong knowledge of the Word of God.
Faith, because on many occasions you may never actually see the outcome of the prayer you’ve been praying; especially if you are praying for the lost, or you find yourself praying for someone you’ve never even met, on the other side of the globe.
A strong, working knowledge of the Word of God is needed, because God will Never contradict himself, or his word. Since we are all in the school of learning what the word has to say we can be confident that we will never be challenged above our Word level. As Jesus said “His Yoke is easy and his burden is light.” Matthew 11:28. In truth though he will give you a burden to the extent that you will need to rely upon him.
Over the coming weeks as we look at the role, the task and the work of the intercessor we will discover the wonders that God has in store for those who will be attentive and supple to the gentle promptings of the Holy Spirit in this work.
However, before we even begin to venture into that space, it is essential that we spend appropriate time in preparation. We MUST get our priorities right first.
For the Christian called to intercession the first priority Must be to seek an intimate relationship with God; to know him, in the way Jesus himself knows him and modelled for us when the disciples asked him “Lord, teach us HOW to pray.” Luke 11: 1. Jesus’ response was to introduce the approach of a child to its Father.
The word he chose to use was not one of a rigid dictatorial “FATHER;” the image of an Edwardian parent who believes in the adage that “Children are to be seen, not heard.” Instead we understand that the word translated, from the Greek work ABBA, would better compare with the term “Daddy” in English. It is that simple, loving, intimate, endearing image of a child full of Love and a very approachable parent.
In fact Jesus made that quite apparent when he was asked whether God gives evil or good. His response would have created a silence so deafening that the sound of the crickets would have been enough to bowl yoou over. He said:
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:9-11
So the first priority is that intimacy with God, much like the relationship that Jesus so often repeated when he was asked why he did what he did. He responded saying:
“I only say what I hear the Father say” John 12:49 and “I only do that which I see the Father do.” John 5:19.
For Jesus to be able to say these things demonstrates the intimacy and the intensity of his prayer life. It is recorded numerous times throughout the 4 Gospels that Jesus took himself aside to pray and by the results we can see that they were by no means ‘ritual prayers’.
You may well exclaim “well that was Jesus, he was God after all.” However, you would be wrong in two areas there. Jesus did not operate as God while he was in his ministry on the Earth.
Instead, as we study the life of Jesus, the prophecies about him and also the writings about him in the Epistles we discover that Jesus came to show all of humanity how they could get to the Father AND how they were to act as his representatives in the Earth until he returns as the Living Christ.
But, seriously, Jesus did tell his disciples:
“the works that you see me do, you will do and greater than this, because I go to be with the Father.” John 14:12.
He instructed the disciples that he would no longer be with them, but IN them. That the comfor
ter, counsellor, teacher, guide, standby and Intercessor that he would send them (paracletos) would show them things to come and lead and guide them into all truth. Add to this one of the most essential descriptions of Jesus in the Book of Acts
“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; who went about doing good and healing all those oppressed of the devil.” Acts 10:38.
Jesus operated in all 5 of what we now refer to as the 5-fold Ministry Gifts of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher, as he was required to by the Father.
I digress only to help you realise that Jesus NEVER did anything without first of all knowing the Father’s heart. His intimate relationship with the Father helped him to know how the Father would respond in any situation. What words of comfort, instruction, or rebuke would be needed, in what time, as well as just How to deliver them. And, as he said on numerous occasions, “I have come to show you the Father.” As well as: “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.”
Even if we were never called into a time of intercession, in and on the behalf of another person, or a situation, our life in Christ, as Children of God would be so much better for the lived experience of that intimate relationship with the Father; with Daddy God.
As Andrew Murray taught, for so many years, we need to learn to “Practice the Presence of God.” and as St Paul reminds us in his letter to the Ephesians: “Like children learn to imitate your Father.” You can’t imitate a Father that you don’t actually know.
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