PRAYER AND INTERCESSION
By Evan Wiggs
(2 Chr 7:13 NASB) "If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people,
(2 Chr 7:14 NASB) and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
(2 Chr 7:15 NASB) "Now My eyes shall be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place.
We live in a land full of sin. Our Churches are without power and big egos rule the pulpits in many. We are tolerating sin in our midst paralyzed by fear of being called bigoted or intolerant. God is hovering over the land seeking prayer warriors and intercessors to cry out to him.
(Ezek 22:30 NASB) "And I searched for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.
Ezekiel also lived in a day of great apostasy and sin. From the leaders to the common people sin ran rapacious in the land. God looked for a godly man to build up the broken down wall and stand in the gap and cry out to heaven for the land but He found no one. That is the most amazing thing. Elijah thought he was the only one in his day but God said that he had seven thousand who has not bowed the knee to Baal. But here was a time when there was no godly man to cry out. Godís Spirit was void in the land and only Ezekiel was there. My soul cries when I read this. Oh let me stand in the gap for my land my God. Let my soul lift up and cry out for the sins of the land.
There is a need for praying people today but little understanding of prayer and what it means.
What it isnít.
Prayer is not us informing God of anything. He knows all including our thoughts even before we form them. He is not surprised about anything nor is He shocked about anything.
Prayer is not a shamanistic ritual to get God to do something Ė though sometimes for His own sovereign purposes he acts as if that is so.
Prayer is not bargaining with God. We have no bargaining chips to offer, we have nothing of value to God. Our obedience is demanded and anything less than complete obedience is sin.
Prayer is not meaningless repetitions of verbiage that becomes automatic. It is not a prayer wheel in a stream or in the wind. God is not impressed by our many words or our intellect. One word from His massive intellect could vaporize the universe.
Prayer is not a pompous Thee and Thou prayer prayed to impress those around. Though God does not mind a sincere Thee and Thou from a humble heart. How many prayers have I heard that were nothing more than a sermon to those around. Those kinds of prayers just hit the ceiling and fall to the ground.
What it is.
Prayer is a cry of the heart. It is a reach from the lowest spot to the highest heaven, from the depths of despair to the most sublime height. It is a child calling to their father. It is a lover calling to their love. It is sweet incense, a sweet communion. It is a love feast, a banquet of joy. It is a glory in a quiet place, a crescendo in a loud place. It is a standing firm in faith, a strengthening of the weak. It is cry of despair turned to heavenly hope. It is a repentance and blessed forgiveness. It is a weeping for a night with blessed joy that rises with the sun. E. M. Bounds said: "Our prayer if full of wonders because our God is full of wonders." It has been said that prayer moves the hand that moves the universe. Prayer is the prime mover of God for He answers to nothing else but faith and that is prayer. Prayer does not change God but it changes us. Prayer teaches us, comforts us, empowers us, humbles us, corrects us, fills us with faith, fills us with compassion, fills us with love and fills us with Jesus.
Prayer is a refuge and a shelter, a rock and a fortress for our souls.
(Psa 61:1 NASB) (For the choir director; on a stringed instrument. A Psalm of David.) Hear my cry, O God; Give heed to my prayer.
(Psa 61:2 NASB) From the end of the earth I call to Thee, when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
(Psa 61:3 NASB) For Thou hast been a refuge for me, A tower of strength against the enemy.
(Psa 61:4 NASB) Let me dwell in Thy tent forever; Let me take refuge in the shelter of Thy wings. Selah.
Prayer is importunate, asking, seeking, and knocking. Prayer demands an answer. Prayer assaults heavenís gates and storms the throne room of God. Prayer will not accept no answer but seeks and seeks until an answer is provided. Prayer is persistent and perseveres.
(Luke 11:5 NASB) And He said to them, "Suppose one of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves;
(Luke 11:6 NASB) for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him';
(Luke 11:7 NASB) and from inside he shall answer and say, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.'
(Luke 11:8 NASB) "I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
(Luke 11:9 NASB) "And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.
(Luke 11:10 NASB) "For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened.
Prayer is the prime work of the Church. From it springs forth preaching and worship. The Church is a house of prayer not preaching or worship. The world will be won on our knees or not at all. Personal private prayer and corporate prayer should be the order of every Church who wants power in the world. Prayer alone will bring heaven close to our hearts and thus close to our Church.
(Isa 56:7 NASB) Even those I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples."
Prayer opens heavenís treasuries and allows God to move upon the earth. He has limited Himself much to our prayers and demands that we call out to Him. He gives us great promises in prayer, promises of such magnitude that is seems audacious to even believe them. But it is the God of the Heavenís who speaks and who can admonish Him? Dare we believe the Holy One?
(Mat 21:21 NASB) And Jesus answered and said to them, "Truly I say to you, if you have faith, and do not doubt, you shall not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' it shall happen.
(Mat 21:22 NASB) "And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive."
Prayer seizes Godís promises and makes them the prayerís own. Prayer brings into being that which is not and brings that which is to naught. The prayer closet is a place of holiness and sacredness. The time of prayer where the soul is brought near is the most wonderful and holy of all. Godís honors prayer with such incredible promises that it would almost seem He is afraid we might forget to ask because we think He is not mindful of our prayers. But behold how He loves the one who prays.
(Jer 33:3 NASB) 'Call to Me, and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.'
(Isa 45:11 KJV) Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.
(Mat 7:11 NASB) "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
Are you in ministry or do you want to be? Is your heart molten for the lost? Is your soul burning with a passion for Jesus Ė to know Him deeper, to let His life flow through you? Do you weep for souls lost and alone; do you care that tens of thousands go to a fiery hell every day? If not, you need to PRAY for these things into your life!
Prayer is absolutely necessary for ministry. Any ministry. Jesus prayed many times. Look at this story. Jesus is just starting His public ministry.
(Luke 6:6 NASB) And it came about on another Sabbath, that He entered the synagogue and was teaching; and there was a man there whose right hand was withered.
(Luke 6:7 NASB) And the scribes and the Pharisees were watching Him closely, to see if He healed on the Sabbath, in order that they might find reason to accuse Him.
(Luke 6:8 NASB) But He knew what they were thinking, and He said to the man with the withered hand, "Rise and come forward!" And he rose and came forward.
(Luke 6:9 NASB) And Jesus said to them, "I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good, or to do harm, to save a life, or to destroy it?"
(Luke 6:10 NASB) And after looking around at them all, He said to him, "Stretch out your hand!" And he did so; and his hand was restored.
(Luke 6:11 NASB) But they themselves were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.
(Luke 6:12 NASB) And it was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.
(Luke 6:13 NASB) And when day came, He called His disciples to Him; and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles:
(Luke 6:14 NASB) Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James and John; and Philip and Bartholomew;
(Luke 6:15 NASB) and Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot;
(Luke 6:16 NASB) Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
John G. Lake said:
"Prayer in His name gets answers. The Moravians prayed. The greatest revival till that time hit the world. Finney prayed. America rocked with the power. Hudson Taylor prayed. Chinaís Inland Mission was born. Evan Roberts prayed for seven years. The Welsh Revival resulted.
An old Negro, Seymore of Azusa, prayed for five hours a day for three and a half years. He prayed for seven hours a day for one and a half more years. Heavenís fire fell over the world, and the most extensive revival of real religion in the century resulted."
In 1727 at the outbreak of the Moravian Revival a 24 hour prayer meeting was started called the "Hourly Intercession". People prayed around the clock in relays for missionary work and that the harvest workers might be found.
How long would such a prayer meeting last in our modern churches? A few days or a few weeks or possibly a few months? This one lasted over 100 years!!!
We are pikers in prayer. We are babes, we are weak. We wilt when we have to pray for fifteen minutes. Jesus, the Son of God, needed to pray all night because He saw the opposition starting and He needed to select the twelve. We need to pray for strength and unction. We need to pray to victory.
Our Churches are powerless because they are prayerless.
The prayer closet is a place of brokeness and humility, of utter dependence on the living God. I have been in Churches that preach prophetic worship and prayer combinations, or how to reach the lost, or worship dance and singing, or many other things. Some think they are on the latest cutting edge that God is doing in the world. I have news for them unless they are broken deeply and letting God rip all their pride and willfulness from them they are all alike. The cutting edge is in the servants quarters.
(Mat 11:28 KJV) Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
(Mat 11:29 KJV) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
(Mat 11:30 KJV) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
This is an amazing statement. This is Jesus the Lord of the Universe speaking. He is the King of Kings and Lord and Lords, the Prince of Peace Ė yet He is lowly and meek! I am astounded and undone by this. Am I meek and lowly in heart? If not, then to the prayer closet! I must meet Him there and have Him correct my heart. He must break me until I am like Him.
I have met many who would be great in Godís Kingdom. I am told about a young preacher, just out of bible school, who was invited to preach in his home pulpit. He prepared his sermon, a model of homiletic purity and proudly marched up to deliver. He was confident and absolutely sure of himself. His delivery although suffered and his sermon fell into shambles. He left the podium head down, feet shuffling, a beaten man. As he left the sanctuary a deacon leaned over to tell him. "If you had gone to the podium like you left it you would have left it like you went to it." Who wants to be great in Godís kingdom?
(Mark 10:42 NASB) And calling them to Himself, Jesus said^ to them, "You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them.
(Mark 10:43 NASB) "But it is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant;
(Mark 10:44 NASB) and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.
(Mark 10:45 NASB) "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
Where is the servant taught first? In the prayer closet! In the prayer closet we are broken and humbled. We are made to be like Christ the prime servant.
Now let us talk about another type of prayer. We have talked mostly about prayer for ourselves in the prayer closet. I want to broach another type of prayer called intercession. Intercession very simply means to pray to God about someone else. It pulls us out of ourselves to pray for someone else. Very often we pray for those we know and love. That is easy prayer. It is very good to pray for those we love and cherish. Family, friends, dear beloved brothers and sisters at church are some we pray for. We pray for those we donít know but love anyway Ė missionaries, persecuted Christians in foreign lands and other brothers and sisters we donít know who are suffering various trials. This is all very good to lift up those we love to the Lord for He commands us to do so.
Sometimes we need to intercede for those who are unlovely.
(Mat 5:43 NASB) "You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR, and hate your enemy.'
(Mat 5:44 NASB) "But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you
How long can you remain mad at someone when you are praying Godís riches and blessings on them? How long can you lust after someone when you are praying him or her to be blessed richly by God? Intercession is again a tool to change us. It will also change that other person. Godís arm is not short and the prayer of the righteous man avails much. Another aspect of intercession is the person who has problems in his life he doesnít see. You know what I mean; the bother or sister who has a bad problem they seem unaware of. God sometimes shows us those problems in others. Is it to confront them and correct that problem? I have tried that a few times to find out that I didnít love them enough to correct their problem. I finally figured it out that God just wanted me to pray for them! Now the people will come up to me sometime after I have been praying for them (unknown to them of course) and say "You will never guess what God has been doing in my life!". It will be the very thing I was praying about. Praise Jesus. I hope people are praying like that for me too! As Jesus breaks and breaks me I hope people are praying for me, for I need much.Now I want to talk about another form of intercession that I call deep intercession for the church. I have started to walk in this form of prayer and I believe God is searching hearts across the world for this kind of prayer. This is not for every believer for it is a deeper form of prayer than any I have experienced. My main model is Moses.Look at this story. This is the first time Moses stands between the fierce anger of God and the people just after he spends forty days and nights on the moutain.
(Exo 32:9 NASB) And the LORD said to Moses, "I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people.
(Exo 32:10 NASB) "Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them, and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation."
(Exo 32:11 NASB) Then Moses entreated the LORD his God, and said, "O LORD, why doth Thine anger burn against Thy people whom Thou hast brought out from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?
(Exo 32:12 NASB) "Why should the Egyptians speak, saying, 'With evil intent He brought them out to kill them in the mountains and to destroy them from the face of the earth'? Turn from Thy burning anger and change Thy mind about doing harm to Thy people.
(Exo 32:13 NASB) "Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Thy servants to whom Thou didst swear by Thyself, and didst say to them, 'I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.'"
(Exo 32:14 NASB) So the LORD changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people."
Look at this. God said he would destroy the Israelites and make of Moses a great nation. I tell you that if there was even a shred of pride in Moses he would have probably take God up on His offer. But I think the Lord was testing Moses and his love and compassion for the people. What did Moses do? He pointed out Godís great past works and said that they would be all for naught, he reminded God of His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Isreal (Jacob). So the Lord changed His mind. The work changed could also mean appeased. Moses appeased God in his stand between God and the people because God saw his love and compassion for them.
(Exo 32:31 NASB) Then Moses returned to the LORD, and said, "Alas, this people has committed a great sin, and they have made a god of gold for themselves.
(Exo 32:32 NASB) "But now, if Thou wilt, forgive their sin-- and if not, please blot me out from Thy book which Thou hast written!"
(Exo 32:33 NASB) And the LORD said to Moses, "Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.
Moses now goes a step further and actually identifies with the people and even their sins because he asks God to blot him out of the book if He will not forgive the people. This is very important for the intercessor to know because the one who intercedes for the church is part of the church and cannot stand aloof from it. God will not allow that.Now we see another episode where the people rebel against God again when they refuse to go into the land.
(Num 14:11 NASB) And the LORD said to Moses, "How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst?
(Num 14:12 NASB) "I will smite them with pestilence and dispossess them, and I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they."
(Num 14:13 NASB) But Moses said to the LORD, "Then the Egyptians will hear of it, for by Thy strength Thou didst bring up this people from their midst,
(Num 14:14 NASB) and they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that Thou, O LORD, art in the midst of this people, for Thou, O LORD, art seen eye to eye, while Thy cloud stands over them; and Thou dost go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night.
(Num 14:15 NASB) "Now if Thou dost slay this people as one man, then the nations who have heard of Thy fame will say,(Num 14:16 NASB) 'Because the LORD could not bring this people into the land which He promised them by oath, therefore He slaughtered them in the wilderness.'
(Num 14:17 NASB) "But now, I pray, let the power of the Lord be great, just as Thou hast declared,
(Num 14:18 NASB) 'The LORD is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generations.'
(Num 14:19 NASB) "Pardon, I pray, the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of Thy lovingkindness, just as Thou also hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now."
(Num 14:20 NASB) So the LORD said, "I have pardoned them according to your word;
Here again God says to Moses that He would make of him a great nation. Moses again cries out to God to forgive and he reminds God of His forgiving and merciful character. He prays to God to pardon the sins of the people and then God says the thing that makes the deep intercessory prayer a wonder. He says "I have pardoned them according to your (Moses) word." That statement absolutely thrilled my soul when I read it because God had been dealing with me on intercession for the church. He wanted me to stand in the gap for the church, not just my home church or even the church in my town but the church in general.I had become aware through the Spiritís moving in my life that the church is in very deep trouble. We are not moving strong in Godís will and we are incredibly weak. In fact we are Laodiacean in character. I misunderstood Godís heart on this matter and I did not want to be one to stand before God for the church. I felt He was angry and wanted to judge the church for her lack and I certainly didnít want to stand between Him and the church if that was the truth. He kept at me for about two weeks constantly prodding me and pushing me. I was very troubled and fought Him until finally He got me down in my living room one night and weeping I told Him I would do it. I was scared. But as I acquiesced and started to pray the most remarkable thing happened. I started repenting for the sins of the church, many sins I personally didnít partake in but I felt as if the filth was mine too. I was weeping in deep grief over the desperate condition I was confessing and my heart was broken. When I finished after about 15 minutes the Lord suddenly came into the room and with a great compassion and love swept through my soul and spirit. It was wonderful to feel that love and mercy as it swept away all the feelings of sin and dirtiness. It was then that I understood the Lordís heart in this matter. He absolutely loved His people. He loved them not because of who they were or what they did but because of who He is. His essential nature is love and he wanted to express it to a church who is too busy to know it. He will do this through intercessors who are willing to stand in the breach and are willing to be conduits for His love, mercy and compassion. I donít know all how this works nor do I pretend to be all knowing on this subject. I know that God is working in me to perfect me to a man of sound stature and I have a long way to go.I hope you dear reader will seek His face with all your heart. I pray that you will love Him with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. Remember to pray always for it is your lifeblood in the spirit.