When you look around at everything we are experiencing in our world, it can create a lot dismay: Racial injustices, hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorism, the prospect of war with North Korea, church shootings, youth suicides, sexual abuse, human trafficking and moral confusion. It leaves us wondering, What can I do? I’m just one person.
That’s when the Lord speaks to us and says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.” James 5:16-17 (NIV)
Is prayer really that powerful? E.M. Bounds said, “God shapes the world by prayer. The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil.” Dr J. Edwin Orr was a leading scholar of revivals. After extensive research he summarized his findings: “There has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that did not begin in united prayer.”
Our world will radically change when God’s people get
engaged in the ministry of intercession.
WHAT IS THE MINISTRY INTERCESSION?
“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NLT)
1. Intercession is prayer.
Every believer should go before the Lord in prayer. Prayer is a lightning rod, a live wire. It’s a connection with the only One who has the power to meet every need, solve every problem, and restore every loss.
Intercession is a unique “GEAR” of prayer that takes up the needs of OTHERS.
In 1 Timothy 2, “intercessions” means a bold appeal in behalf of others. It denotes empathy, compassion and personal involvement, in that we don't just see the needs identify with them and get involved. Nothing in scripture calls intercession a spiritual gift, but intercessors are a gift to me.
2. Intercession is the ministry of Jesus.
“During his earthly life Christ offered both requests and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death and he was heard because of his devotion.” Hebrews 5:7 (NET)
The cross itself was an act of intercession. Jesus identified with us in our need, came to God compassionately on our behalf and carried the burden of our sins so that we might be free and blessed. That’s intercession! Then, after being crucified, Jesus rose from the dead—was saved from death—as a result of His strong prayer life. You never know how powerful your prayers are too deliver you from your darkest moments!
“Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.” Hebrews 7:25 (NLT)
This is who Jesus is. He does not stand aloof from the needs around Him. He gets involved, feels the pain, takes action to resolve it. He is an intercessor, and if each of us is called to be like Christ, then…
Each of us is called to the ministry of intercession.
3. Intercession is the work of the church.
The church is God’s instrument in the earth—the body of Christ—responsible for evangelism, equipping, worship, compassion, justice and more. But nothing we do in these areas will make any impact apart from the power of God in prayer. God has a role for each of us as believers: The Ministry of Intercession.
Because prayer is the work of the church, church leaders must all participate and lead the way.
The twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” Acts 6:2-4 (NKJV) -
One of the greatest examples of intercession is found in Ex. 17:8-13. While Joshua and the army of Israel fought the Amalekites in the valley below, Moses help up his hands in intercession all day long. When he grew weary, Aaron and Hur held up his hands until the battle was won. That’s the amazing power of intercession!
4. Intercession is spiritual warfare.
“We’re not waging war against enemies of flesh and blood alone. No, this fight is against tyrants, against authorities, against supernatural powers and demon princes that slither in the darkness of this world, and against wicked spiritual armies that lurk about in heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 (TVT)
The ministry of intercession is the key to God's battle plan for our lives. But the battleground is not of this earth. Intercessory prayer takes place in this spiritual world where the battles for our own lives, our families, our friends and our nation are won or lost.
Intercession is the key to seeing breakthroughs in your life
and in the lives of those around you.
Intercessory prayer doesn't give up. It's the kind of prayer that endures setbacks and overcomes obstacles. It's prayer that “presses on” until we come into God's will in whatever situation we’re facing (see Phil. 3:12).
HOW EFFECTIVE IS THE MINISTRY OF INTERCESSION?
God has promised to move in response to prayer. We need a move of God, a stirring of that power that heaven alone possesses— that goes beyond our ability! The ministry of intercession will get the job done.
“Whatever you ask for in My name, I will do it so that the Father will get glory from the Son. Let Me say it again: if you ask for anything in My name, I will do it.” John 14:13-14 (TVT)
“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Matthew 21:22 (NIV)
The ministry of intercession allows us go where none can stop us and do what none can hinder.
“...Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons -- but they are helpless against our prayers.” —J. Sidlow Baxter
Paul tells us about one of the greatest intercessors of the early church:
“Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.” Colossians 4:12 (NIV)
His muscles strained…he broke a sweat in prayer. He loved the church and the ministry of intercession!
There is no one in the world who cannot benefit from the prayers of God’s people! We should pray for our family and friends, our fellow believers and the lost. We should pray for preachers, missionaries and those who teach the Word. We should pray for our pastors and leaders in the church—Pray for the Ten Cities vision, local unity, revival! We should pray for our national leaders - Even if they are wicked and we do not agree with their policies, their work should be bathed in the prayers of God’s people. God can influence and even overrule a misguided leader. We should pray for all people, at all times, in all places, for all needs.
Who needs your prayers today? Whose hands can you hold up?
Whose name can you call out in prayer?
HOW GOD CAN USE YOU AS AN INTERCESSOR
1. Have a dedicated time for prayer.
“Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.” Mark 1:35 (NLT)
Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess…and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day…” Luke 2:36-38 (NKJV)
Do you have an appointment in prayer? Keep to it. Most of us can’t pray 24/7 like Anna but we can keep a prayer schedule. Notice Anna used fasting and prayer - make fasting a part of your life.
Make prayer a lifestyle like Anna and Jesus did. The late Corrie ten Boom once provocatively asked,
“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” —Corrie Ten Boom
2. Depend on the Holy Spirit.
“The Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how we should pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes on behalf of the saints according to God’s will.” Romans 8:26-27 (NET)
It is important that each of us is filled with the spirit of prayer. Intercession should become prophetic, guided by what God says and reveals. You’ll catch the updrafts of the HS in the ministry of intercession.
“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” Ephesians 6:18 (NLT)
There are many challenges to the ministry of intercession - the flesh and the devil are primary. Your body will say, “It’s too early, it’s too late” and the enemy will fight this like nothing else because he knows the power of our prayers. Distractions, doubts will assail. Be strong and filled with the HS. Resist and press on!
3. Cry out for the needs around you.
Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin. So now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” Then Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.” Exodus 32:30-32 (NKJV)
Abraham was an intercessor in a day of compromise and self-destruction. In response, God protected and delivered Lot, his backslidden family member.
Sargeant Bergdahl walked away from his unit and fell into the hands of the enemy for 5 years. Don’t walk off the battlefield of prayer. Double down in faith and cry out. God will move when His people pray!
We look at the world and say, What can I do? Today, God has revealed the answer. Our world will radically change when WE get engaged in the ministry of intercession. I challenge everyone here: Receive the ministry of intercession and let God use you!
Father God, I come into Your presence and ask You to give me the heart of the intercessor. Help me to be persistent in prayer until the breakthrough comes. Thank You for this powerful weapon and for Your faithfulness in my life. In Jesus' name, Amen