By Pastor Mitch Horton | June 2005 | Posted in • Archives | (0) Comments
“Praying with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18).
We’ve been discussing the different kinds of prayer in our last few issues. In this issue, I want to discuss the prayer of intercession.
To intercede is to take another’s place. We never intercede for ourselves! This is a prayer for others only! When we intercede, we literally take another’s place in prayer. This is only done by the power of the Holy Spirit. You can’t make yourself intercede for someone. Last month, we discussed the prayer of supplication, which is also a prayer primarily prayed for others. And sometimes, when you’re praying for someone else, you may start out praying the prayer of supplication, and end up in intercession.
“There is no new birth until there is spiritual travail for the lost. This is true intercession, and we need to bring it back into the church today!”
Intercession is what Jesus is doing for us right now as He sits at the right hand of the Father. He “ever lives to make intercession for us.” (Hebrews 7:25) He has literally taken our place in sin so that we can be free! Hebrews tells us that we have a high priest that was “touched with the feelings of our infirmities.”(Hebrews 4:15). He feels our need, has taken our place, and stands in the gap to represent us before the Father.
The Holy Spirit helps us to “make intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:27). And we must depend on Him to help us intercede.
There are two basic kinds of intercession. One kind is for the unsaved to come to salvation, and the other is for the new believer.
Isaiah 66:8 mentions Zion (a term used in reference to the church, see Hebrews 12:22) travailing to bring forth children. This is an Old Testament reference to a New Testament, Holy Spirit inspired, prayer experience the believer has for the unsaved.
When the Holy Spirit moves you to pray in intercession for someone, you often feel the way the person feels on the inside. If they are lost, oppressed, or fearful, etc., then you would actually have that sense of lostness, oppression, fear, etc., in your spirit when you are praying.
Many times, I as a pastor, have that sense of heaviness upon me before I preach. I have learned that when I sense this, the Holy Spirit is seeking to have me intercede for the people attending the service I will be conducting. God alone knows their true needs, and He places a sense of their burden upon my spirit so that I will pray.
“Lives hang in the balance waiting on your willingness to be used of God in this way.”
In reading from the memoirs of Charles Finney, we find that a man by the name of Father Nash would accompany Finney as he traveled from city to city in the northeastern United States. He would arrive a few days before Finney, check into a hotel, and groan and travail in prayer for the upcoming meetings. Sounds of guttural groaning and travail, much like a woman in the throes of childbirth, could be heard coming from the room. Hotel attendants would voice their concern to Charles Finney when he arrived for the meetings, and would tell him of the unusual sounds heard coming from Father Nash’s room. Finney would tell them that Nash was praying and all was well. And there would be a great move of the Holy Spirit in the conviction of the lost in the meetings. Many would be born again.
There is no new birth until there is spiritual travail for the lost. This is true intercession, and we need to bring it back into the church today!
There is also intercession for new believers. Paul mentions this in Galatians 4:19: “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you.” The word formed here means to take what is on the inside and let it be manifest on the outside! God wants the change that the new birth brings to our spirits to affect our daily lifestyle. And intercession and travail are necessary to help a new believer grow up in Christ and change habits and lifestyle.
I remember how God used me to minister to a Bible school friend years ago. We had both graduated from the same Bible school several years earlier, and I had seen him while shopping with my wife. He had fallen away from the Lord, and as we talked, he was flippant in attitude towards spiritual things. It grieved me inwardly to see my friend in such a condition. A few days later, I was in my place of prayer early one morning, and while praying I began to think of my friend. I began to pray for him and was shocked by what occurred. As I prayed for him, I was suddenly overcome by a sense of desperation and a sense of being severed from fellowship with the Lord. At the same time, I could sense how God felt about my friend turning his back on his faith. It was a feeling of hurt mixed with a yearning and longing for my friend to return to the Lord. I found myself literally groaning and travailing out loud, wailing and crying profusely for my wayward friend. I prayed that way for maybe ten to fifteen minutes, and then the travail and burden of prayer lifted, and I sensed a peace come over me about his condition.
Some time later, I received a call from him, and he told me that he had moved to another city, had come back to the Lord, and was faithfully attending a local church. I knew when he told me, that God had used me to help him get back into fellowship. This was intercession for my friend, who was a fairly new believer. Intercession brings results.
I want to encourage you to develop your prayer life, and to tell the Holy Spirit that you are available to be used in intercession for others as He wills it. If you are sincere, on occasion, the Holy Spirit may use you to make intercession! Lives hang in the balance waiting on your willingness to be used of God in this way. Open yourself up to be used in intercession today!
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