The Need to Intercede
by Michael A. Asher
Have you ever been in the presence of someone whose spirit has been crushed, someone devastated by some unexpected disaster in their life? Have you ever witnessed a tragedy someone is going through that is so painful it has moved you to tears? In such moments, the emotion that can well up inside us from the experience can become so intense that we feel an overwhelming need to cry out to God for help. Compelled by our love for another, we can enter into genuine intercessory prayer on their behalf to Almighty God.
You may have heard the term “intercessory prayer” before and it may have sounded too deep or complicated for you to get involved with it. Sometimes we feel the same way about just simple prayer with God. Yesterday in our “Comeback” series at Christ’s Church, our lead pastor, Trevor DeVage, talked about the critical need for God followers to be persistent in the prayers they bring before God. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Prayer simply is an honest conversation with someone with whom you desire to have a relationship with—your heavenly Father. Prayer should be something that helps provide security, encouragement, peace, and direction for your life.
A Powerful Weapon
Intercessory prayer, then, is prayer on behalf of others, as you “intercede” with the Lord for the needs of other people. Once you’ve tried intercessory prayer, you will find yourself wanting to intercede on behalf of others more frequently as you see the results of it in others’ lives. A deeper level of intercessory prayer actually involves taking hold of God’s will through his promises and refusing to let go until his will comes to pass. It is going headlong into spiritual warfare, being uncompromisingly resolute in your determination to partner with God to seek his will on the matter at hand on behalf of those in need.
The apostle Paul instructs us in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5: “We live in this world, but we don’t act like its people or fight our battles with the weapons of this world. Instead, we use God’s power that can destroy fortresses. We destroy arguments and every bit of pride that keeps anyone from knowing God. We capture people’s thoughts and make them obey Christ” (CEV).
Intercessory prayer takes place primarily in the spiritual world, which exists all around us, but is not immediately visible to our senses. Intercessory prayer, along with the all-powerful Word of God, are tools we wield in the spiritual arena for the battles we implore the Lord to intervene for us. We cry out for him to fight for us as individuals, for our families, for our friends, and for our nation until the battle is either won or lost.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12, NIV).
An Amazing Privilege
Those who have accepted God’s gift of salvation in their life have access to God through the Holy Spirit from the moment they name Jesus as their Savior. Not only that, but as followers of God, we are his sons and daughters, as John 1:12, 13 affirms: “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (NIV).
This promise provides us the confidence to boldly enter into the presence of God at any time, and anywhere. Part of the challenge while inhabiting these frail human forms is the ability to approach our loving Father with a faith strong enough, one without doubt or wavering, that inspires us to believe that the prayer we lift up will be answered. The Bible is rather straightforward; if you want to discover God’s plan, all you need to do is ask. James 1:5 assures us, “If any of you need wisdom, you should ask God, and it will be given to you” (CEV).
By our asking, the Lord will instill his desires into the focus of our prayers. We must surrender our personal thoughts which allows the Holy Spirit to guide us. When you choose to partner with God in this venture, you can make a significant difference in the lives of those you love, your church, your neighborhood and community, and your nation.
Jesus said in Luke 11:10, “Everyone who asks will receive, everyone who searches will find, and the door will be opened for everyone who knocks” (CEV).
We are to keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking with persistence until the spiritual harvest is reaped.
A Dangerous Mission
A word of caution is warranted here: Intercessory prayer is a serious matter and should not be entered into lightly. Like a soldier who prepares for battle, we cannot take on the enemy if our weapons are left behind. The battle I speak of is spiritual conflict, and the foes are formidable. We cannot defeat these enemies on our own. We must enter into the battle with the Lord himself at our side. God has called us to this battle, and he will fight for us.
We are instructed to fortify ourselves with God’s recommended weapons of warfare, described as the full armor of God. The armor spoken of in the book of Ephesians, chapter 6, includes the helmet of salvation, the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. These weapons help us to pull down spiritual strongholds and protect us from the attacks that will most certainly come against us during the spiritual warfare we must face. Be aware that Christ has given you authority to “overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you” (Luke 10:19, NIV).
The apostle Paul explains: “His incomparably great power . . . is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 1:19, 20, NIV).
John the apostle encourages us with these words: “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4, NIV).
A Relentless Pursuit
Most importantly, intercessory prayer endures all setbacks, overcomes every obstacle it encounters, and DOES NOT GIVE UP!
This type of prayer allows you to take the offensive in the spiritual battle. Rise up and stand firm in the battles you face! What better way to truly serve others spiritually than to lift them up in prayer to the Lord?
“If God is for us, who can stand against us?” (Romans 8:31, NIV)
Father God, we come into your presence today and humbly ask you to give us the heart of an intercessor. Help us to persist in our prayers until the spiritual breakthrough comes that fulfills your will. Thank you for this powerful weapon of spiritual warfare—and for your faithfulness in our lives.
In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen.
Michael A. Asher is a financial controller who has nourished a lifelong love of the Bible by sharing God’s Word through creative writing.