“Will you pray for me?” When you are asked this question or when you ask it of someone else, what are you genuinely wanting to happen? We have all found ourselves in both places. Occasionally we even volunteer to pray for someone without being asked. A friend taught me to ask this question of a server when eating in a public restaurant: “We are about to pray over our food, is there anything we could pray for you about?” Rarely is that offer not received well. It has evoked tears, heartfelt needs, and always a look of gratitude. I’m always blessed in return.
Recall our definition of prayer with me. Prayer is earthly permission for heavenly interference or intervention. Therefore, intercessory prayer is approaching God and asking Him to intervene or interfere in the life of another person.
Paul’s last words to us in Ephesians 6 instruct us to practice intercessory prayer. In verse 18 – 19, we read: “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray for me also.”
Jesus, always our tutor and model, was the greatest intercessor of all time. He is the perfect picture of the one who was willing to “stand in the gap” for you and me.
Isaiah 53:12 records this prophecy about Jesus: “for He bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors.” He made intercession for you and me, my friend. He chose to stand in the gap for us!
And today, His intercessory continues. Hebrews 7:25 reads “Wherefore, He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever lives to make intercession for them.” How is Jesus currently making intercession for you and me? In John 17:20 we read these words: “My prayer is not for these disciples alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message.” If you are a believer today, you can know Jesus interceded for you over 2000 years ago! And He is still interceding for you today!
Consequently, He is looking for women who are willing to enter into the ministry of interceding in prayer with Him. In the midst of our own warfare, God is searching for women who are willing to reflect His character of outgoing love and mercy, step out of themselves, and “stand in the gap” for others. Are you willing?
Does God really need us to pray in the lives of others for Him to intercede? Can we change God’s mind? Or alter the events in the lives of others?
The sovereignty of God is a settled issue in scripture. This means that God is king, he rules and reigns over everyone and everything. He rules over events and circumstances. Nothing happens by chance.
Understanding and believing in the sovereignty of God and then reading scripture like Psalm 115:3 – “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases Him”, may cause us to wonder why He wants me to practice intercessory prayer. Can my prayer cause God to change His mind?
I’m going to invite you to examine two situations side by side and you will see a parallel that will help you answer that question.
Read Exodus 32:1 – 6. The nation of Israel broke covenant with God. Then read Ezekiel 22:23 - 29. You will find that the nation of Judah also broke covenant with God.
In both instances, the people had earned God’s judgment. What is God’s judgment? It is when God allows the consequences of sin to accrue to the sinner. Sin has punishment built into it. God’s judgment occurs when God allows sin to have its full effect and does not intervene to circumvent the evil. Both nations were entitled to and had earned God’s judgment.
However, in both cases, with the nation of Israel and the nation of Judah, God desired to “intervene” and show mercy instead of judgment. That is the heart and character of our God.
When God wanted to intervene and change the course of events, what did He do? In both instances, He looked for an intercessor. When God looked for an intercessor for Israel, He found Moses. When God looked for an intercessor for Judah, He found no one. Israel received mercy. Judah received judgment.
Moses was willing to stand in the gap for the nation of Israel.
Enjoy the “intercessory prayer” of Moses with me in Exodus 32:11 – “But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. ‘O Lord, he said, why should Your anger burn against Your people, whom You brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Turn from Your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on Your people.’”
How did God respond to the prayer of Moses? Verse 14 tells us “Then the Lord relented and did not bring on His people the disaster He had threatened.” Did Moses change God’s mind? He shared God’s mind. He did not alter God’s plan. He implemented God’s plan. The plans of God, along with the character of God, formed the basis for Moses’ prayer. Through his intercession, Moses reflected upon and expressed God’s love and redemptive purpose. This is why we must know the heart and desires of God found in His word.
Allow me to share a personal example. I knew God would desire my two sons to find Godly wives who would love them and desire to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Therefore, when they were in elementary school, I began to intercede on their behalf, praying for God’s desires to occur in their lives. God brought down to earth what was already in His heart in the heavenlies.
What God wants to do on earth, He will do often through intercessors. Prayer releases the will of God, bringing His will out of the spiritual realm and causing it to take effect, materialize, in the earthly realm. Prayer opens the way for God to do what He longs to do.
Intercessory prayer releases the power and provisions of the heavenlies down in the lives of our mates, our children, our friends, or even strangers in a restaurant! How sad if God had said, “I looked for an intercessor for these people” but found none.
Are you willing to be that one?
My desire is to live continuously in a state of prayer. Not just to practice prayer every now and then. When Paul says in I Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray without ceasing,” I believe he is challenging us to make prayer an ongoing part of our thought process. Not stopping and starting at certain times, but wanting us to be in a continuous flow of prayer. Allow prayer to flow out of our innermost being before the throne. Psalm 139:4 says, “Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.” And this is how He responds to us when we do not even know how to pray: “The Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” (Romans 8:26-27) When a prayer is nothing but an inarticulate groan – before we can make a complete sentence – the Holy Spirit is already speaking it with perfect clarity to the Father. Isaiah 65:24 says it this way: “Before they call I will answer; while they are speaking, I will hear.”
After 7 months of no diagnosis here in Dothan, my husband and I were on the 7th floor in Atlanta Georgia, waiting for the results of further testing. Laying his hand over his swollen abdomen, my husband said, “This is going to be gone.” Unable to answer, I turned away, looked toward heaven, through the dark, dreary sky and simply said, “Is it God?” In response, God formed a huge rainbow in that dark sky before my eyes. You see, not knowing the words to utter, how to pray, the Holy Spirit of God took our frail words, our mere groaning, and interceded with a perfect prayer to our Father. And He even answered with a rainbow!
“And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me….but I found none.” Ezekiel 22:30
Will you be that One?
MY WAR ZONE:
The chances of having a baby were dismal for my son and his wife. In 2004, God gave me Psalm 84:11 to stand in the gap interceding for them. “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing will He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” Taking it a step further, we decided to pray the verse together. We believed God was a good God regardless of whether or not He answered our specific prayer for children. But the bond that developed between my son and daughter in law as we prayed those intercessory prayers together is now so strong that we do not hesitate to call on each other for prayer. When we are willing to stand in the gap for others, God blesses us in return!
- If you struggle with words to pray in intercessory prayers, borrow from Paul. Ephesians 3:14 – 19 is a treasure of biblical petitions. Search Philippians 1:9-11. One more: Colossians 1:9-12.
- Share a time when someone was willing to stand in the gap for you?
- I was engaged to be married. Had a ring and a date set. My mom stood in the gap and without a word spoken to me, she petitioned God and that engagement ended. Can you share a time when you witnessed or experienced God’s will being done through intercessory prayer?
- What role does intercessory prayer play in seeing victory in spiritual warfare?
- How do you incorporate “praying without ceasing” into your everyday life?
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