Scripture texts: 1 Timothy 2:1, Ephesians 6:18
By Kemi Olubiyi
As believers, we should be very much engaged in prayer. An active prayer life is very important as a Christian because it not only enables us to be in constant communication with God but also it enable us to be vigilant (alert) at all times because we know the enemy of our soul is running around trying to destroy children of God so we need to protect ourselves always putting on the full armor of God at all times Ephesians 6:10-18. Also, prayer is the master key that unlocks blessings, breakthroughs in our lives and the lives of our loved ones. Let us now define what prayer is.
1). Definition of Prayer: Prayer according to Merriam Webster's dictionary is a silent or spoken petition made to God or a god. For us believers, prayer is simply we speaking to God and God talking back to us. It is a 2 way communication that involves both talking & listening. When we talk to the Lord, we should expect Him to speak back to us and this is where we need to be alert spiritually to hear Him when He answers. Many at times, God communicates back to through His written word ( scriptures) by directing us to somewhere in the bible for an answer to that petition, through a still small voice that usually speaks to our heart, through prophecy, word of knowledge, visions etc. We should always be patient during a time of prayer or our regular quiet time with the Lord to allow Him to answer our petition and also give us guidance for the day or week ahead. If you are also praying on behalf of someone, He can give you a word of encouragement for that person.
2). How are Prayers Answered:Scripture reveals that prayer is:
· Immediately at times - Isaiah 65:24, Daniel 9:21-23
· Delayed at times - Luke 18:7
·Answered different from our desires - II Corinthians 12:8-9
· Answered beyond our expectations - Jeremiah 33:3, Ephesians 3:20, An example of this is in 2 Chronicles 1:11-12 -King Solomon
3). Types of Prayer
I. Worship ad Praise: A lot of believers are not aware that praise and worship is a type of prayer unto the Lord. Psalm 100:4
Worship is giving of honor and devotion. Praise is thanksgiving and an expression of gratitude not only for what God has done but also for who He is. Some people refer to praise and worship as the "food" of God especially with worship because genuine/true worship to the Lord comes from our "spirit", our "inner-man". To worship Him in Spirit is do so sincerely in the power of the Holy Spirit, from our innermost being, putting Him first above all others.
See John 4:23-24
II. Petition: Prayer of petition are requests. Requests must be made according to the will of God as revealed in His written Word. Petitions may be at the levels of asking, seeking, or knocking as stated in Matthew 7:7. Another word for "petition" is supplication which means “beseeching God on behalf of a need.
III. Commitment: This is a type of prayer committing or surrendering your life and will to God. It includes prayers of consecration and dedication to God, His work and His purposes.
IV. Confession and Repentance: One of the most common prayers which should be done daily as we examine ourselves.
This is a prayer of repentance. Asking the Lord to be merciful unto us and forgive our sins.
V. Intercession - This type of prayer involves praying for others. Standing in gap on behalf of someone else. This form or type of prayer is what we are going to look at today.
4). Intercession and Intercessor
Who is an Intercessor? - One who takes the place of another or pleads another's case.
What is Intercession?
Intercession - According to Merriam Webster's dictionary, it the act of interceding, petition or entreating in favor of another.
Another word for Intercession is Mediation i.e pleading another's cause
For us, believers, Intercession may be defined as holy, believing, persevering prayer whereby someone pleads with God on behalf of another or others who desperately need God's intervention." (From the Full life Bible).
Based on this definition of intercession, we can simply define intercessory prayer as prayers or requests made to the Lord on behalf of another. It is standing in the gap on behalf a loved one, friend, colleague, Christian brother/sister etc. for a specified period of time seeking God's will concerning their situation until an answer comes which could be a "Yes", "No" or "Wait."
5). What is the biblical basis of Intercession?For the New Testament believers', the ministry of intercessory prayer is our calling as priests unto God. The Word of God declares in 1 Peter 2:5 that we are a holy priesthood, a royal priesthood 1 Peter 2:9, and a kingdom of priests, Revelation 1:6, Exodus 19:6.
The background for understanding this calling to priestly intercession is found in the Old Testament example of the Levitical priesthood. The priest's responsibility was to stand before the people and between the people and God. Today, "The Melchizedek priesthood stated in Hebrews 7:11-19 is the " new order" of spiritual priests of whom the Lord Jesus Christ, the great Mediator and Intercessor is the High Priest and this is the order that we, the New Testament believers follow as a result of His blood that was shed which has made us new creatures in Christ.
6). Why is Intercession is Important?
It is important because of the emphasis our Lord Jesus Christ placed on it in His own earthly ministry. Its importance is also revealed in scripture records which is filled with testimonies of both men and women who experienced powerful results through effective intercession e.g. Moses, Esther etc. It is also important because if we are to strive to live a Christ-like life, we have to also become an intercessor as Jesus was and still is. His ministry of praying for others while on earth didn’t stop there. Even now, He is sitteth on the right hand of God, making intercession for us daily. Romans 8:34. He (the Lord Jesus Christ) is the one mediator (intercessor) between God and man. 1 Timothy 2:5, not Mother or Holy Mary, the Pope, Prophet Mohammed etc. or any other religious being that is or has being worshipped.
7). What are the spiritual resources used in intercession prayers?
In Luke 9:1, it says “Then He called His twelve disciples and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases."
God has provided spiritual resources for the ministry of intercession to which all believers are called. What are these resources; let’s take a look at a few of them that God has made available to us in these end times.
i). Delegated Power and Authority only given by God
Supernatural power from the Lord is needed to do battle with the devil because a lot of the prayers that we pray will be that of a warfare nature. When we intercede, we are actually doing battle against the enemy, Satan for the souls of people, both young and old. This battle cannot be done with mere human strength. We need something greater and that is given to us by the Lord Jesus. Ephesians 6:10-18.
ii). The name of Jesus
The authority upon which we intercede is the "Name of Jesus". We are to pray, preach, teach, baptize, cast our demons, heal the sick and overcome every power of the enemy through the name of JESUS.
See John 14:14, Mark 16:17-18, Ephesians 1:21, Philippians 2:9-11.
iii). The Blood of Jesus
Another powerful spiritual resource to be used. It is through His blood that we have direct access to God the Father. Hebrews 10:19-22. The blood of Christ is described as the "new covenant" Mark 14:24 and He is the mediator of the new covenant Hebrews 8:6. This makes the old covenant, obsolete which means that it is no longer necessary for the blood of animals to be offered as a sacrifice for our sins. The blood of Jesus delivers, sets free, covers, protects etc.
Another spiritual resource that is effective in intercessory prayer is fasting i.e. abstaining from food or things that give us pleasure for a specified period of time. We covered this topic on fasting in the Part I section of "The Woman that Prays" series last year. If you look throughout scripture, a number of times where men and women of God cried out unto the Lord on behalf of others, they fasted. Fasting helps our spirit man to be more connected to the Lord when we are praying which causes us to receive clear instruction and opens our spiritual eyes to see clearly what God wants to show us regarding that issue or situation.
8). Principles for Effective Intercession
What are some principles for effective intercession; let's look at a few of them:
1. Praise God for who He is and for the privilege of engaging in the same wonderful ministry as the Lord Jesus (Heb 7:25).
2. Making sure our heart is clean and right with God by allowing the Holy Spirit to convict us, should there be any unconfessed sin - Psalm 66:28, 29:23-24.
3. Acknowledging that you cannot really pray without the direction and strength of the Holy Spirit. Rom 8:6. We have to ask God to take complete control by His Spirit as He leads us and believe by Faith that it is done.
4. Deal aggressively with the enemy. Come against in the all-powerful name of the Lord Jesus Christ and with the "sword of the Spirit" which is the word of God as mentioned in James 4:7. Also remember that right from the day of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of God suffereth violence, and the violent in Christ taketh it by force. Matthew 11:12. Beloved, when it comes to doing battle with the enemy, we cannot afford to be lax or act like a gentleman, we need to be angry in our spirit and forcefully take back what has been stolen from us over the years.
5. Wait before the Lord is silent expectancy, listening for His direction Psalm 62:5, Micah 7:7
6. Have your Bible with you always during this time of prayer in the event that the Lord is directing you to His word the answer to your petition or a confirmation of what He has already revealed through a dream, vision etc.
7. In obedience and by faith, speak what God brings to your mind to the person/persons whom you are interceding for and allow the Lord to direct you as you relay the message using godly wisdom. If the Holy Spirit has not led you to speak, then please do not. Also, be patient as God is giving you a message, to ensure you have received the message in its entirety. Usually in a group setting, when the Spirit of God is giving a message especially one that is very urgent after a period of intercession, He has a way of hindering possible interruptions or distractions until He is done.
8. When God ceases to bring things to your mind to pray on, finish by praising and thanking Him for what He has done, reminding yourself of Romans 11:36 , "For everything comes from Him and exists by His power and is intended for His glory. All glory to Him forever! Amen.
9). What do We Intercede for?
We can intercede for a number of things namely;
· For unity in the body of Christ- globally
· For the sick, the needy, prisoners, widows and orphans.
· Salvations of souls e.g. pray for your unsaved colleagues, friends, relatives, classmates, teachers etc.
· Family members and loved ones
· For our pastors, other ministers of God. - The leadership of the Church.
· For the peace of Jerusalem. Psalm 122:6 Pray for peace in Jerusalem and may all who loves this city prosper.
· For the persecuted church around the world. E.g. those in the prisons for Christ's sake, the families of those who have been martyred.
· For those who are being oppressed by Satan e.g. bareness, loss of all kinds, delays, poverty, etc.
10). Hindrances to Effective Intercession
In order to intercede for others effectively, you must identify any hindrances and eliminate them from your life
Such hindrances can be the following:
· Idols in the heart - Ezekiel 14:1-3
· An unforgiving spirit- Mark 11:25 - We deceive ourselves if we say we are
praying either for ourselves or someone else and harbor grudge or unforgiveness,
that prayer will be hindered.
· Manipulative prayers, wrong motives - Proverbs 21:13, James 4:2-3
· Unbelief - James 1:6-7 - Doubt.
· Not abiding in Christ and His word - James 15:7 i.e. not being a doer of His Word.
· Not asking according to God's will - James 4:2-3
· Hypocrisy, pride - Matthew 6:5, Job 35:12-13
Once we have identified these hindrances in our lives, we must ask the Holy Spirit to help us eliminate them from our lives and only Him have the power to do so... it’s not by power or our might but by His Spirit. Having said this, when it appears that a prayer is not been answered, it does not necessarily mean that there is a sin or hindrance in your life, it just means that God is delaying the answer to that prayer for a reason which could be e.g. it’s not the right time or season for the manifestation of that prayer or the Lord could be answering that request different from our desire II Corinthians 12:8-9. Also an unanswered prayer can come from our disobedience meaning that if the Lord has told us not to pray for that individual or situation and we heed his instruction and direction and keep on praying, surely that prayer will not be answered and we will also have committed the sin of disobedience.
11). The Benefits of Interceding for Others.
1. Prayer brings restoration. Earnest, heartfelt prayer will produce results and bring restoration to the wounded. God has given to us the ministry of reconciliation. He wants His wounded ones restored. We cannot fix one another, but prayer prepares the way for God to undo our erroneous efforts to keep everything together.
2. Prayer prepares us for revelation and destroys strongholds. Prayer and sound teaching prepare hearts to receive revelations that displace wrong mind-sets, attitudes and motives.
3. Prayer develops unity. If we are to develop healthy relationships within our church families, christian fellowships, we have to hold the same vision, be of one mind and in one accord. In Matthew 18:19, it states "Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven." i.e. not just agreeing with our words, but more so with our spirit, it is our spirit man that intercedes or prays not our flesh and once we are in one accord in spirit, according to the will of God, that prayer shall surely be answered.
4). Praying for others causes the Lord to move in your own situation because you have sacrificed your time for the sake of another and with a compassionate heart, petitioned God to intervene in the life of another. The Lord rewards those who diligently seek Him Hebrew 11:6 and he blesses those who bless His children whether in the giving of our time or finances e.g. Psalm 122:6, Gen 12:3
In conclusion, I will like to reiterate the importance of interceding for others and also praying for ourselves. As an intercessor, one should constantly be pleading the blood of Jesus upon ourselves because when we intercede a lot of times, we are opening ourselves up to all sorts of things we are not conscious of which is mostly spiritual. For as Ephesians 6:12 states “we are not wrestling against flesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness in high places, against principalities, powers... all sorts of evil and so the blood of Jesus and the name of Jesus are powerful resources to use to safeguard our lives and that of our immediate family. In vs. 11, it says put on the full armor of God so that we will be able stand against the schemes and plots of the enemy.
I admonish you today to be an intercessor for Christ, allows the Lord to use you to bring about transformation in the lives of others and see how the Lord will brighten and beautify your life as you do so. The Lord bless and keep you always, May the blood of Jesus Christ cover you and your household daily as you begin or continue your ministry of intercession in Jesus name.
Excepts taken from the course "Intercessory prayer" Harvestime Institute, Colorado Springs, CO.