Series: Made for More- Much Deeper in Prayer Title: I’ll pray for you- The Call to Intercession Scripture: Ezekiel 22:23-31
This week, our country once again was shocked by the reality of terrorism, when the Dusit2 complex was hit. The last of my count is 21 people lost their lives and scores were injured. In praise of our security personnel, we thank God that the situation was contained, handled very professionally and the fatalities were minimal.
While this happened, there were scores of messages on my phone in the social media- this is how I learned about it. Pst. Alex forwarded me the first and many others followed. One that particularly stood out was for Ron who tweeted his ordeal as it happened. The first was a cry for help, the second was a call to his faith and farewell message to his loved ones.
Many Kenyans took to the social media in response to encourage him, but I could not help seeing the prayers many people were making. While some actually prayed for most – it was the typical Kenyan answer- we’ll pray for you”. The question is who here actually prayed? For him or the situation at hand- unless you knew someone personally, did you stop to pray?
I’ll be praying for you- Is a promise which we have made very many times, but hardly gets done. Carrying out the promise is much harder than making it. As believers, we say it so many times and it almost becomes part of the spiritual- language and we forget it is actually a commitment to pray.
We begin the year strong in our theme for this year Exponential Reloaded, Exponential is a radical way of doing church where every believer seeks to multiply themselves through the power of God working in them. We seek to grow much deeper, Go Much Further and reach much wider because we believe we are made for more, which is the emphasis of our first term. And in the month of January we lay the foundations and start at the place of prayer and this month we look at Much Deeper in Prayer.
We are on the last week of our prayer and fasting, trusting you are growing in your faith as you seek the Lord and finding clarity on God’s will for this year. We will officially end this campaign together this Friday in our LIFE Friday service. So appropriately, we also are learning about prayer as a discipline we must, if we seek to grow Exponential.
If we are to go Exponential, then we must pray not just more, but we must pray for more. We must pray for more than ourselves. This is the much needed discipline that we will address today- The Call to Intercession.
There needs to be a healthy balance between praying for ourselves and praying for others. We may find ourselves selfish and dry in our faith only when we pray for our needs. It is not out of place to pray for ourselves, indeed praying for ourselves is a privilege and exercise that brings us to engage personally with God from deep within. But scripture lays the emphasis also to pray for others as much as we pray for ourselves.
There is much that has been said and taught about this subject, I do not claim to be an expert or an authority, but seek here today to awaken in us by the spirit of God, the power and experience of intercession as we love on others in prayer. Simply put – Intercession is loving on others in prayer. Indeed Jesus so loved the world that he interceded for us- he stood in the gap for us.
Dutch Sheets- explains “Intercessory prayer is an extension of the ministry of Jesus through His body, the church, whereby we mediate between God and Humanity for the purpose of reconciling the world to him, or between Satan and humanity for the purpose of enforcing the victory of Calvary.
Intercession simply means going in between.
While this may be a teaching session- Intercession and prayer generally is not to be taught but to be caught. You will only get it, when you practice it.
There’s numerous examples and places in scripture where we read prayers of intercession both in the OT and the NT. From Moses, Abraham, the prophets, the apostle Paul and even Jesus himself.
For today, Our scripture today comes from Ezekiel 22:23-31, with a special emphasis on vs. 31 (Read)
Intercession PAP- Of course there is nothing like Intercession PAP. PAP stands for the Power, Attitude and Practice.
The Power of Intercession
First, prophet Ezekiel embraced the role of an intercessor right from the beginning of the book. In this book, God is speaking judgement on Jerusalems’ sin. But earlier on- Ezekiel is called by God a Watchman with a very serious role to warn and speak on behalf of God to the people and the other way round.
Read Ez 3:18-21
But in our main scripture today- God is passing judgement on Jerusalem’s sin. He paints a very grim picture of those whom Ezekiel lived among as his people. The scriptures here tell of dark and evil times –when the land was full of conspiracy, injustice, destruction and selfishness, where God’s name is profaned even by the priests, false prophets” a lot of things clearly that grieved the heart of God.
But of focus is Vs 30 (read) God seems here to say – there exists a possibility for a different narrative, a turn around, another story, if only someone will stand in the gap. There is possibility that history is made, when we stand in the gap, we arrest that which was to happen and turn it around.
John Wesley rightly says- God does nothing except in answer to believing prayer. He loves to involve us, He has chosen not to do much without us.
Walter Wink- History belongs to the intercessors. Intercessors who channel God’s power into situations and are catalysts whom God uses to do great things.
We see in the example of Abraham interceding for Sodom and Gomora and a whole city is spared, Elijah who changed weather patterns on his knees, and Joshua in the battle with AI- for whom God stopped the sun. Nabal’s life spared because Abigail his wife interceded the wrath from David. There are numerous examples that God is waiting but for a man, someone to plead with him a different story.
Indeed some of you here, your lives are the products of an intercessor- who faithfully called on God on your behalf and we may never know them. I thank God for my Aunt….
Are you encouraged by this privilege?
So let’s break this passage down and glean some lessons on effective Intercession.
22:30 First, “I sought for a man,” Compare here with “Elias was a man” (James 5:17).
All this was among a people who claimed Abraham as their father, and whose forefathers had cried unto the Lord in their trouble and he had delivered them out of all their distresses. How the God of glory had departed! The salt had lost its savor! The gold had become dim!
But out of this measureless backsliding, God raised up a man – not a committee, not a sect, not an angel – but a MAN, and a man of like passions as we are! God “sought for a man,” not to preach, but “to stand in the gap.” As Abraham, so now Elijah, “stood before the Lord.” Elijah’s life record can be summarized in two words: “He prayed.”
No man can do more than that for God or for men. Oh that the Lord will raise men who pray among us. Lord make me a man of prayer.
Please note here that intercession is a personal discipline. Not just some public display we do in conferences and gatherings but part of our private praying.
Please note also that Intercession is not babbling spiritual things- but an intelligent conversation with God as a plea for others. As a lawyer presents a case, with precision, conciseness and understanding.
The Attitude of Intercession
From among them to stand before me – Among them: who has a heart for them, Stand before me- who can stand before the Lord (a righteous man)- That qualifies you as an intercessor.
Indeed at the core of intercession is a heart that identifies with the person and a heart that is moved by what moves God’s heart.
Intercession in on behalf of. The truth as Jesus modelled you cannot stand on behalf of somebody if you have no love for them. You will not put your neck on the line for someone you don’t identify with or connect with.
Indeed, there is a very strong relationship between prayer and love. Too often when you stop praying for someone your love for them runs out. You can quickly do the math- when was the last time you prayed for your husband? I can tell how my wife loves our kids, because of how often and how dearly from the heart their names are raised to God in prayer.
We simply don’t pray because we don’t have a heart. We don’t have a heart for our country, we know our country, but we don’t have a heart.
God will not give us more of this community, if we don’t have a heart for more of this community.
God will not give us healing in our marriages, if we don’t have a heart for those whom are close to us.
Having a heart of compassion and empathy. By listening and extending grace to one another.
This is why un-forgiveness, anger and bitterness blocks our prayers. Praying with un-forgiveness, anger and bitterness- negates the attitude of intercession.
Scripture teaches that if you came to pray and remember you have a grudge on someone, then go back and make peace with them.
James teaches Confess your sins one to another then you will be healed. On the reverse, when there is unity and love- our prayers are powerful and effective.
Perhaps this is where we ought to begin in repentance of our attitudes, asking for forgiveness. Our wrong attitudes stand in the way of intercession.
But also significantly the Intercession requires a patient and persistent attitude. Identifying with people doesn’t happen pap. It takes time. In the same way we may not identify with God pap. But intercession like Abraham pleading for soddom and Gomorrah- ‘May the Lord not be angry with me, but let me speak once more’
From God’s perspective-God will answer the prayer at the point it gives him the greatest glory. Sometimes it takes long like Abraham and Sarah getting Isaac. But that’s the point it gave him the greatest- Ours is not to faint and lose heart.
Not just from among them, but one to stand before God. This is a picture of a righteous man. Who pleads for others only God’s best for them. Who exemplifies the values of which he prays for? If you are praying for peace are you a man of peace?
But lastly The Practice of Intercession
Scripture talks of build a wall so that I may not destroy the land – Intercession is not only on our knees but on our feet and hands as well. This is the bit that robs our prayers the experience of walking with God, limiting God to the sanctuary and 4 walls. Building the wall symbolizes strength. An action and discipline we must take.
Intercession involves actions of obedience; If you are praying for someone to get saved, get healed, to be rescued involve your feet. Christians are accused of talking too much and doing very little. Sometimes it will involve being in uncomfortable positions. As I have prayed for many relationships, I have found myself in tough positions as a go between.
As you pray- visit that person, Follow up with them. Note and monitor changes and details. If yesterday you prayed for this, today visit- God may show you something else. Prayer then becomes an engagement.
Not a long list of things and people you don’t know, but people who you interact with to know that God is answering that prayer.
When you pray for a county- visit that county, when you pray for a country, the president- stay informed about what you are praying for. I can assure you if you want to meet the president- start praying for him this way and you will see.
Walk in the neighborhood you are praying for, listen to the ground and what people are saying.
Practice obedience as you pray- God may tell you to build a wall for this person or this cause you are praying for. God will tell you to start doing something about it.
This is how God places a burden of prayer, when we walk in obedience he reveals to us the next burden. But if we don’t he takes away the burden of prayer for that which we are praying for.
If you are praying for something- begin to speak in faith in that direction. We cannot be praying for our country, and constantly be the mouth that speaks negatively about our country.
Lastly- work out an intercessory schedule. This way you remain perceptive without loading up on many items to pray for.
I developed a schedule many years back that has guided me, although I fall off it helped- Mon church, Tuesday Family, Wednesday- Self, Thursday- God’s workers, churches and missionaries, Friday- our country, Saturday- Worship and Thanksgiving.
Next time- Don’t just say I’ll pray for you- Just stop right there and pray.