The Heart of the Effective Intercessor
In order to understand what it means to be an effective intercessor, we must first understand what it means to intercede:
According to Merriam-Webster Online, to intercede is: to try to help settle an argument or disagreement between two or more people or groups: to speak to someone in order to defend or help another person. It further defines intercession as: prayer, petition, or entreaty in favor of another.
Synonyms for intercessor: middleman, peacemaker, ambassador, advocate, [paraclete]
These definitions and synonyms give us answers as to not only the activity of the intercessor, but also the heart behind their efforts.
1. Advocate is one of the synonyms for intercessor. We know that our Advocate is Jesus Christ!
1 John 2:1-2: “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”
It is impossible to make intercession without Jesus! He made the way for us to be able to intercede. It is His great love that motivated Him to take our place and it is His great love that should be our motivation to take the place of others! Remember the definition of intercede. Who is the Someone Who has the ability to help others? Who is the One that we must settle disagreement with? Our Father in Heaven! Jesus is the One who made this reconciliation with the Father possible. Without His act of intercession at Calvary, it would still be impossible for us to approach God on anyone’s behalf, including our own. Not only did Jesus make intercession possible, but He intercedes for us constantly.
Hebrews 7:25: “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.”
So right now, as I speak, Jesus Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father making intercession for all of us and for the whole world!
2. Paraclete is another synonym. The Paraclete is the Holy Spirit! Paraclete means helper. When Jesus died the substitutionary death that we deserved, He left behind a Helper, One who could be everywhere at all times. One who is not limited by space, time, and flesh.
It is impossible to make intercession without the Holy Spirit!
Romans 8:26-27: “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”
Now we are starting to see the position from which we begin to intercede: in Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, seeking to mediate between God and man through forgiveness of sins, repentance, and according to the will of God.
In my work, I often hear people complaining that their prayers do not seem to ever be answered. They become defeated and depressed, believing that God is not hearing them. They say things like, “I have prayed and prayed and God has not shown up yet! Will you pray for me, because God seems to answer you better?” OR- “Well, you know hope deferred makes the heart sick.”
What they are really saying, without realizing it, is that they have been praying from a wrong position, asking for the wrong things, or placing their hopes in the wrong stuff.
So, how do I know this, you might ask.
James 4:1-10: What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him. And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.
1. A position of humility is vital. Acknowledging the FACT that we most often pray according to our desires rather than those of God, and being willing to lay those desires aside in favor of His desires is the hardest thing for us to do. Allowing the Holy Spirit to inventory our hearts must be where we begin. Confession of sin, forgiveness of others, and complete dependence on God must be the daily practice of the intercessor.
1 John 1:14-15: “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”
2. We must ask according to His will. Remember Roman 8, we must realize that we do not know what to pray and must submit ourselves to Him by seeking His will in the situation. I promise that you will begin to experience intimacy with God as never before if you will begin to practice these first couple of steps. Humble and submit yourselves before Him, seeking His will for every situation. You can seek His will through prayer, but the best way to know for sure whether something lines up with God’s will is to know the Word. Refuse to be like the world, praying from your own selfish desires, attempting to force God’s hand or tell Him how things should be done. Begin by praying His Word over people and situations. This type of positioning before God will deepen your relationship with Him in ways that cannot even be described. He will begin to place in your hearts those people and things that He wants for you to come into agreement with Him about. He will even speak through you by the Holy Spirit: sometimes with knowledge and sometimes in your spirit language. This is when you will see answers to prayer and the favor of God manifested in your lives. Ask HIM what you should pray!
Matthew 6:33: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
3. Your hope must be in Christ alone! If you have your hope in ANYTHING other than Christ, it is in the wrong things. Many put their faith in the things of God, His blessings, miracles, and gifts. I am here to tell you that all of things will fade away and none of them are worthy of your hope. Those who hold that their hope has been deferred have simply placed it in the wrong things! We must seek His face and not His hand! Knowing Christ and the love that is available through Him is sufficient to fill all of our needs! He is the One who is our Savior. He is the One who is our Healer. He is the One who is our Deliverer. We continue to see these as things that He does rather than understanding they are actually His identity! The way that we gain access to healing, salvation, and deliverance is by having a personal encounter with Him. Getting to know the One who was, and is, and is to come is the only way to be an effective intercessor.
Mark 11:24: “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”
4. When you pray, BELIEVE!!! Doubt will completely negate your prayers. His Word is true and He cannot lie! If He has said it, He will surely do it! Most people do not doubt that God can do it, but that He will do it for them. This is due to a misunderstanding of who God really is and who we are once we are in Christ. Remember, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). We must also remember that it is not our righteousness, but Christ’s that we depend on. Far too often we receive from a place of our own righteousness rather than seeing ourselves as clothed in the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:22). In short, it is the opposite of faith and equivalent to calling God a liar to doubt that we can receive what is promised in His Word.
1 Corinthians 10:31b: “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
5. The goal of intercession must ALWAYS be bringing glory to God! We bring God glory by living lives of obedience to His Word and His ways. We bring Him glory by pointing people to Jesus and by proclaiming His great work on Calvary. We must never seek the glory for ourselves or for others. Any and all healing, deliverance, salvation comes from the Giver of Life and it is prideful and idolatrous to take any of the credit for the work He has accomplished!
It is important for us to understand that praying from a wrong position, asking according to our own will instead of God’s, and placing our hope in the things of God (including gifts, anointings, healings, miracles) rather than the Person of God actually constitute what is known as religious or spiritual witchcraft—the attempt to manipulate God into performing those tasks in our lives and the lives of others which we believe should be performed.
You may also know these as soulish prayers—meaning they come out of the soul (mind, will, and emotions) of man rather than coming from the Spirit of God.
No wonder they are not being answered! The truth is, it is the grace and mercy of God that they are not! He sees our hearts and knows our weaknesses. He understands our failings and knows that we are incapable of goodness without Him.