Prayer of Intercession

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, November 18, 2016 1 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

[This blog post is part of a series. The previous post is here, and the next one is here.]

Intercession is a specific type of prayer that many of us only have a basic understanding of what it is. Allow me to define and describe it. Intercession is not merely “praying for someone else,” it is so much more. Imagine we have a city protected with walls. If the walls are up, all the enemy forces are kept outside. However, if there are gaps or holes, also known as breaches, in the walls, then the enemy has direct access to the city without needing to go through the front gate. Intercession is when we stand in the gap of the wall and fight the enemy, SO THAT the walls can be rebuilt.

Intercession is also described this way. We have a friend or ally engaged in battle with his enemy and he is going down. Intercession is when we jump in, stand between our friend and his enemy, and fight that battle for him. However, the point of this is so that person can get back up, if necessary retreat to the medical camp to heal, and then rejoin the battle. Intercession is when we are willing to take on the war for another. Richard Wurmbrand gave a clear picture of intercession in Tortured for Christ. He said when in the prisons of Communist Rumania, the Christians who had already taken beatings of their own would willingly take another beating because the person due to receive it would not be able to endure it.

I do not remember who it was, but in growing up on the mission field, I heard of a story of a man who sought to reach one of the tribes in the jungles of the Amazon. (I am going by memory so some of the details might be butchered.) After returning to the city to get medicine, he encountered a man who helped him return to the path back into the jungle. During the night, the missionary had a peaceful night, however when he woke up, he saw that man, terrified. The man said he and his friends came to his camp and planned to rob and kill him, however when they got there they saw 26 giant warriors surrounding him. So they did not dare enter in. The missionary did not know what to think of that, but then when he returned to his home church on furlough, he told this story. When he finished, someone stood up and said that very night God woke him up and said to pray for the missionary and it was urgent. Then someone else stood up and said the same thing. Several others also stood. The missionary was not interested in who prayed for him, but the number: 26 people. This missionary had 26 people interceding on his behalf and it saved his life.

Have you ever had God suddenly wake you up with a sudden burden for someone you love and care for? The other week, twice I was woken up right around midnight two nights apart by a strange sound. The first time, I thought someone might be trying to break into the house. The second time, I asked the Lord if he needed me to get up and pray. I want to be sensitive to God’s call for me to get up in the middle of the night to pray. But if you are not willing to do that, God may not wake you up to pray, because he can’t depend upon you to pray to protect his people.

One thing that I must make clear: intercession is not meant for you to fight the battles instead of someone else. That is, if someone asks you for prayer and to help them out, sure you can help out, but you are not to just fight their battles for them. As A.W Tozer said, “You cannot delegate prayer.” Do not ask someone else to do your praying for you, so you can sit back and do nothing. And do not fight for someone else who seeks to do this. A woman called my pastor doing this. She wanted prayer for her son. He caught on to what she is doing and he said he would pray with her on one condition: that she not call a single other pastor. Why? Because she had the greatest authority in her son’s life so SHE needed to be the one praying. She was trying to delegate her prayer needs to someone “more holy” than she was. This is not intercession, let alone prayer. Intercession is fighting the battle and being willing to take on the fight for another.

Rees Howells defined intercession as having three components: identification, agony, and authority. Let’s break that down. Identification is when you know first-hand what the person’s situation is like. A couple who has lost a child understands that pain greater than any other. I can counsel and help a couple who have lost a child to some extent, but I cannot do it like another couple who has been through it. Rees Howells had to learn this through praying for a woman who had tuberculosis. He had to be willing to die in her place with TB to “gain the position of intercession.” I could counsel a woman dealing with a friend who sounded like she had a demon because I had been through such battle. I could identify with that situation. A friend of mine, Nathan Williams, uses this tag line for his website: “Sometimes calling someone out of the darkness means going in after them.” That perfectly illustrates the idea of identification. Sometimes saving someone lost in sin or darkness means we have to go face that sin or darkness ourselves and fight it for them as though we were the one struggling against it. If have gained victory in that area before, we can gain it again on behalf of someone else. Agony means we feel the same pain that person feels. We understand their wounds by experience. Go back to my post three weeks ago on “Praying in Anguish” to get into this in more detail.

Then the third is authority. When we have “gained the position of Intercession,” then we can pray and declare with authority in any similar situation. When Rees Howells learned this concept, God made him pray and pray for greater positions of intercession to have higher and higher authority. That is why he was able to pray in intercession through the events of World War II, because he spent his life in learning how to pray and gain the position of intercession. This is also why when he spent several years in Africa and the plague hit, he was able to hold a position of authority so not a single person would die who came to his mission. Everyone else around him was dying left and right, but because of his experience with the TB woman, he could take the step of faith to make that declaration at the Lord’s guidance.

Rees Howells was no special man; he was simply one who yielded himself to Christ. Any of us could pray as he prayed, if we surrendered more of ourselves to Christ. As of now, I do not sense a calling to pray and intercede at the level Howells was called, but I know every Christian is called to pray and to intercede at some level. We cannot expand the Kingdom of Heaven unless we do.

God is looking for intercessors. He’s looking for people who will stand in the gap and defend his people and his territory. But will we answer the call? Will I answer the call? In order to gain that position, we must also go through a stage of life that Rees Howells and every other man of God that I know of had to do: a time of anonymity. Paul went to Arabia for three years after his conversion before he began his missionary work. I still do not know of an exception to this concept: before a man is to be used of God on the stage, he must first go under the stage to pray. Stay tuned next week to learn more.

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David Odegard said...

Well said,may the Lord help us all to pray on all occasions. I especially like your Wurmbrand reference. What a man of God he was. Blessings.