- From the Editor -
What is Intercession?
Dr. Dennis Corle
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;” (I Timothy 2:1)
In I Timothy 2:1 God gives us an exhortation through the Apostle Paul. “I exhort therefore,...” If you back up, any time you see the word therefore, there’s always a reason it’s there. It points to a previous statement. If you back up to chapter one, he talks about Hymenaeus and Alexander that had departed from the faith and blasphemed. These men had apostatized. He said, because some people are going the wrong way, abandoning the truth, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all,...” Did you get that? What does ‘first of all’ mean? First of all. God does not say that about everything in the Bible, but He said, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;”
Please don’t miss the fact that when He talked about the first thing that He wants us to do, it’s prayer. That’s first of all. In times of apostasy, first of all you pray. In need, first of all you pray. In prosperity, first of all you pray. When everything is going well, first of all you pray. When everything is going wrong, first of all you pray. Prayer is first of all in the Christian life.
This text talks about four different types of praying. The first thing He mentioned is supplication, which might be labeled ‘blue collar praying.’ It’s literally laboring in prayer, praying with sweat. It’s coming tirelessly to God and laboring to obtain some spiritual benefit. Supplication usually has to do with personal need. Everything that I want is not a need. What I want and what I need are not always one and the same. People may pray when the cupboards are full, but they will supplicate when the cupboards are empty. They will pray when things are going well, but they will supplicate when they’re in need. They’ll come to God and labor tirelessly again and again in order to get a real need met.
Then He uses the word prayer. It’s the broad term that includes praying of all kinds, the word that covers all of it. When I say it’s the more generic word, the broader term, here’s what I’m talking about. There are several words in the Bible for sexual sins. There’s the word adultery. That’s somebody that’s married having extra marital relationships. There is incest, and that’s vile, unsanctioned relationships inside the family. Then there’s homosexuality or sodomy as it’s described in the Word of God, people of the same gender having those vile relationships. Every one of those deals with a specific type of sexual sin, but there’s one word that covers all of it. It’s the word fornication, or pornea, which even covers people that are addicted to pornography. It includes any kind of sexual sin. It’s the blanket term that deals with any kind of sexual promiscuity.
The word prayer is the broad term that covers all the different types of prayer. There’s prayer and fasting. There’s prayer and watching. There’s supplication and intercession. But there’s one word that covers all the different types, and that’s the word prayer.
One thing you need to know about the word prayer, in writings during the time of Christ, this particular word prayer was never used of coming to a man and asking him to meet my need. It was always used as somebody coming to a deity. In Greek literature they may have been coming to a false god, but it never signified one man coming to another. It was always coming to a deity, always used in the sacred sense, always making request to God. Some of us, if we’d pray to God instead of each other, we might get answers.
John R. Rice probably gave the best description of prayer. Prayer is asking and receiving. It’s not just making request. It’s coming to God in such a fashion so that you’re praying according to the will of God and you not only ask, but you get what you’re asking for. All prayer falls under that category. He said, “First of all, I want you to practice supplication, blue collar praying, laboring in prayer, and I want you to ask and receive.”
Then He says, “Intercessions” which is very interesting word. Let me bypass that for now because I’m going to spend most of my time there. Then He talks about giving of thanks. The Bible says in II Timothy chapter three, one of the trends that would identify the last days would be unthankfulness. That’s enough to make me believe we’re living in the last days. The most prosperous people on the face of the earth are the most unthankful.. We don’t even realize what we have, much less appreciate it.
Sandwiched in there He talks about this thing of intercession. This word intercession carries the idea, not only of me coming to God in behalf of somebody else, but it actually portrays the idea of establishing an intimate relationship with God before I make request. That’s what the verb form of the word talks about, getting close to somebody before you make a request.
Suppose I’m going to try to invoke the blessing of a king on somebody else, to intercede for this person in need. If I plan to request the blessing of a king on a stranger, it probably would be a good idea if I got to know the king before I tried to get him to do this favor for me. It would be good if I developed some intimacy and had the king’s heart strings and affection and friendship first.
This type of prayer is built, not just on request, but on relationship. Intercession requires intimacy with God. One stranger is not going to have much impact at begging bread for another stranger. If I’m going to have any impact in getting what somebody else needs from God, then I have to get to know God and develop a close relationship with him.
Here’s what happens to us. We don’t have any time for God until somebody in our family is in trouble. Then we rush to God in ‘intercessory prayer.’ We call it that, but we don’t even know God. I don’t mean we’re not saved, I mean we don’t have any close relationship. We’re too busy for communing with God. We’ve spent no time, no effort, no energy, no affection on God, and then we come rushing to God and assume that because we’re praying on somebody else’s behalf, automatically it’s going to come to pass. But intercession is always built on relationship.
We come to God like a lawyer with all of our arguments, but arguments don’t get anything from God. We talk to God about being just. Do you think your argument is going to make God be just? He is just. He doesn’t change. You’re not going to change the character of God by quoting Him a verse. I’m telling you that what gets answers to intercessory prayers is intimacy and communion with God. It is knowing God, establishing a relationship with God before you intercede.
There is not a parent in this room that does not enjoy meeting the needs of their children. It feels good to be needed. However, there’s not a parent in this room that wouldn’t be heartbroken if the only time that your children ever spoke to you is when they wanted or needed something. In spite of the fact that you love to do for them, now and then you’d like for them to talk to you because of who you are, not because of what you can do. Every now and then you’d like them to spend time with you just because they love you and not because they need you.
Every now and then God would like you to take a little bit of time and spend with Him just because you love Him, not only when you or somebody you love is in need, not just when you’re saying, “Oh, God, I’ve got a disaster. Please help me.” If I’m going to invoke the blessing of a king, it would be a good idea to know him first. Before I have to intercede, it would be a wonderful thing if I intimately knew the One that I must come to.
In Luke 11 Jesus instructs His disciples in prayer. In verses 5 and 6, the intercessor went to the one whom he had developed a friendship with that had the bread. The proof is in verse five, “And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight,...” Who’s he going to at midnight for bread? A friend. If you know the rest of the story, even though he had a friend, he had to practice importunity. It wasn’t that easy. He had to labor in prayer and continue and be persistent, but who did he come to? Somebody that he already had a relationship with, a friend.
But He said, “...Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?” Everybody you run into is on a journey to eternity. The truth is, if you haven’t been with God, you don’t have anything to set before him.
Here’s a friend in need. You want to see his need met, so you come rushing to God and ask Him to give you what your friend needs, but do you have that relationship with God? You’re going to say, “Oh, friend, please give me as many loaves as I need. I have nothing to set before him.” God wants us to understand that if I’m going to have any impact in intercessory prayer, I’m must develop a friendship with God. The one with the bread did not know the one in need, but he was friend to the one making request. This fella in need was a perfect stranger, but he had a bond with the guy making request.
The Bible says, “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17) Do you remember what love does? In John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave...” So if I develop a friendship with God and a friend loveth at all times, and God’s the One that has the ability to meet the need, and “For God so loved the world, that he gave...” Wait a minute... A friend loveth at all times, and love gives, so if I develop an intimate relationship, a legitimate friendship with God Almighty, what are my chances I’m going to be able to pray for somebody and get them what they need?
Listen, the key to intercession is relationship. You say, “How do you become God’s friend?” The Bible tells us that, too. “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” (John 15:14) That’s not how I become a friend to another human -- by obeying their every command. But if I’m going to be a friend to God, it’s by doing what God says and proving my love through my obedience.
I really believe that friendship is one of the strongest bonds in humanity whether it’s recognized or not, according to Proverbs 17:17. God holds it above blood brothers in Proverbs 17:17. A blood brother may forsake you, but a friend loveth at all times. That’s why I tell people when I preach on the home that your wife should be your best friend. “Why?” Because when the other areas of your relationship are struggling, your friendship will succeed. When things aren’t going well with the other relationships within the marriage, you’ll stay together and have sweetness because you are friends.
God said if I’m going to be an effective intercessor, I have to come to my friend that has bread and get the bread that my other friend needs. This friend doesn’t know that friend, but if I have intimacy with Him, I can get what is needed based on the strength of our relationship. You know what I’m talking about. I have often done things for somebody I didn’t know as a favor to somebody I did know.
Remember in Philemon verses 10-19, Paul was interceding for Onesimus to Philemon. In this case he was not coming to God, but he was practicing intercession. Notice on what premise he did it. Every plea he made was based, not on the worthiness of Onesimus, but on the relationship that Paul had with Philemon. Intercession is always based on relationship, which means most of us who are too busy to have a relationship with God may think we’re interceding, but we don’t have any clout. We don’t know God any better than the person in need. We’re saved, yes, but as far as relationship, communion, walking with Him, we are bankrupt. In verse one of Philemon, Paul called Philemon ‘my dearly beloved’ and ‘fellowlabourer.’
I have a sermon I preach titled “The Closest Fellowship is in the Yoke.” You don’t get closer to people playing together. That’s how you get mad at each other. You get closer to one another bearing the same burden, suffering the same hardship. The closest fellowship is in the yoke, under the burden, laboring together, suffering together. But Paul called him a fellowlabourer. This is not flattery, trying to manipulate Philemon. It’s in the Book. He was Paul’s dearly beloved. Do you think that means that they were good friends, that there was sweet communion between them?
Then he said in verse 10, “I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds:” He said, “I have run into Onesimus out here. I know he’s been an unprofitable servant and has wronged you, but now he’s gotten saved. I’ve claimed him as my son. If you want to be good to me, please be good to my son.” Don’t tell me you love me and mistreat my children or my bride. I don’t believe you. Paul said, “If you love me, if we’re really beloved brethren, I want you to treat Onesimus like my son. I’ve adopted him as my son, taken him under my wing. I’m sending him back. Please treat him good for my sake. Love him like you’d love me.”
Then in verse 12 he said, “Whom I have sent again: thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels:” He’s talking about ‘that’s what my heart yearns for’ or ‘that’s what my emotion rests upon.’ He said, “I have great yearnings that you’d receive him. Please, if you want to do something to be a blessing to me, then receive him.” Do you notice what he’s doing? On the premise and the strength of a relationship, he is interceding for a young man who has erred, asking for mercy for him, not because he deserves mercy, but, “On the strength of our relationship, would you do it for me?”
Then he said in verse 17, “If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself.” He said, “If we’re really partners, then receive him.” Verse 18, “If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account;” He said, “You let me bear what he owes you.” Do you understand that every plea that Paul made in this passage, he did on the strength of their relationship? He didn’t try to tell Philemon how wonderful Onesimus was, although he did say he’s changed and he’s profitable to me and I think to thee. He was not saying, “Do it because he’s worthy.” He said, “Do it because we’re partners, because you love me. Do what you’d do for me. Treat him like he is my son.” Every request was made on the strength of the relationship that he had with Philemon, on their friendship, communion, and their love for one another.
One of the better illustrations of Biblical intercession is in Genesis 18, where Abraham was interceding for Sodom. Abraham had somebody in particular in mind. He was worried about Lot, his nephew, and Lot’s family. Abraham communed with God. The angels left and headed toward Sodom, and God stayed behind and told Abraham that He was going to pour out His wrath and destroy Sodom.
Abraham made an appeal with God for His justice. Here’s one of those arguments. Abraham said, “God, You wouldn’t destroy the righteous with the wicked would you? You’re a just God.” Do you think Abraham’s appeal for God to be just is what made God just? God wasn’t going to do injustice, but Abraham made that appeal first. Verse 22 says that Abraham stood yet before the Lord. Everybody else departed. It was just God and Abraham. In verse 23 it says that Abraham drew near. He wasn’t shying away from God. It didn’t change his reverence and respect for God, but he knew God intimately enough that he wanted to get close and spend time with Him.
That’s different than the children of Israel. They said, “Moses, you go on up to the mount and talk to God, then come down and tell us what He said. We don’t want to get close to God, so you get close to Him for us. We’re scared of Him. He’s too holy.” But Abraham drew near, and then began his plea for Sodom. He said, “...Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?” In verse 24 he said, “Peradventure there be fifty righteous...” He said, “God, what if there is fifty righteous in Sodom, will you spare it for the fifty?” Let me ask you a question. Who set the quota here? Abraham. Did God ever set a quota in this passage? God didn’t say if there was fifty righteous. Abraham’s request was, “God, if there be fifty righteous, will You spare if for the fifty?”
God said, “Okay, I’ll spare if for fifty.”
Abraham said, “What if it lacks five? God, will You spare it for 45?”
God said, “I’ll spare them all for the 45.”
Abraham went all the way down to 10. “What if there’s 10, Lord? Will You spare it for 10?”
Without any hesitation God responded, “I’ll spare it for the 10.” When you look at this you see that God never did set the quota, Abraham did. Do you know, every time Abraham lowered the quota, God lowered the quota. He didn’t say, “Wait a minute now. We’re getting too low here, Abraham.” Never. I honestly believe that Sodom was destroyed because Abraham stopped too soon in his intercession. I don’t believe that a certain quota would have spared Sodom. I believe intercession would have spared Sodom. Abraham did intercede. Don’t think I’m criticizing him. We don’t do what he did. But I believe if Abraham would have said, “God, if you can’t find any righteous, would You spare it for my sake?”
I believe God would have said, “I’ll do it for you, friend.” We’re not talking about some run of the mill backslider here. We’re talking about Abraham, the Friend of God. I don’t think God was looking for a quota. Abraham is the one that set the original quota, and God went as far in forgiving and lowering it as Abraham went in requesting it. If Abraham had never set a quota and just said, “God, would You spare it for my sake?” I believe God would have done it, based on the closeness of their relationship. Verse 33 of Genesis 18 the Bible said, “And the Lord went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham:...” Abraham was interceding and God was communing with His friend. Abraham was pleading for Sodom, and God was enjoying his fellowship. As soon as they finished communing, God went His way.
In Genesis 41:8 God refers to him as ‘Abraham, My friend.’ When you get to James 2:23, Abraham was called the friend of God. In John 15 when He talks about intercessory prayer He said that I’m to come to my friend and beg bread. In this passage of Scripture and when Paul interceded for Onesimus, he came to his friend, and on the strength of their friendship he said, “Please forgive him for my sake.”
Intercession is based on relationship. I’m going to give you several verses that I think prove what I just said. In Exodus 32, God was about to destroy the nation of Israel and Moses interceded for them. Remember when Moses was up in the mount? God said, “Get you down. These people of yours have already corrupted themselves.” He wasn’t even done getting the whole law yet, and they had already gone off into sin. When Moses got down to the camp and saw what had happened he said, “Oh, this people have sinned a great sin.” But before he even left the mount he said, “Oh, God, please spare them. Please don’t destroy them all.” When he got down there and saw what they were involved in he said, “This people have sinned a great sin. I’ve got to get back to God, back to the mount. I’ve got to get back to interceding for them and cry out to God.”
Exodus 32:11 said, “And Moses besought the Lord his God,...” Boy, I love that statement. It didn’t say the Lord, the God. It said the Lord his God. All of us claim the Lord the God, but many don’t have any personal relationship with Him. This was Moses’ personal God. Do you understand what I’m talking about? A God very near, an intimate relationship with a personal God. His God. In verse 12, here’s his argument, “God, if you kill them, you’re going to destroy your testimony. If You do it, the Egyptians are going to say that you led them out of Egypt to kill them in the wilderness because you couldn’t deliver them.”
Do you really think God was going to mar His glory and Moses talked Him out of it? It’s a good thing Moses saved the glory of God, right? No, he didn’t get the answer based on his argument. I’ll prove it to you in a little bit. He gave arguments, and it’s definitely our tendency to try to plead our case and claim Scriptures. I’m not fighting that or trying to say you shouldn’t ever do that. But I’m going to tell you something, friend. You claim all the Scriptures you want, come like a lawyer all you want, but if you don’t have any intimacy with God, all your claiming things won’t change what happens. It’s not being a good lawyer that gets answers. It’s being a close friend that gets answers. Intercession is based on relationship.
Then he began his second argument, “Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel,...” “You promised to leave them a seed. If You destroy them all, You’re going to mess up Your promise.” God keeps His promises whether I remind Him about them or not.
Then in verse 14 the Bible says, “And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.” Did you ever notice in the Bible that when God repented, it changed His course of action? God created man. Then in Genesis it said that it repented the Lord that He had made man because of all the evil. When God repented of making man, what did He do? He sent a flood and destroyed them. When God was going to destroy people and He repented, did He still destroy them? God is not a sinner, so He didn’t repent of sin. Repentance is a change of mind that relates to anything, not just to sin. The one thing that’s constantly true about repentance is when a person repents about anything, it changes their course of action. You can’t deny that if you believe the Bible.
The Bible says, “And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.” He told Moses, “I’m going to kill them all and start over with you. I’m destroying every last one of them.” After Moses interceded, God said, “Okay, Moses, I’ll tell what I’m going to do. You go down and say, ‘Who is on the Lord’s side?’ Those that don’t cross the line and come over, the ones that remain in rebellion, I’m still going to judge them. But anybody that will come across the line, I will forgive them for your sake. They deserved judgment too, but if they’ll respond to your plea, I’ll forgive them on the strength of our relationship.” That was a big difference from God destroying all of them.
Did you ever notice Exodus 32:30-35? Moses said, “...Oh, this people have sinned a great sin,...” I love this. He said in verse 32, “Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--;...” Then there’s a line, a dash in your King James Bible. The indicator here is that Moses broke down and could not complete his statement. He said, “...and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.” He makes a personal plea and he broke down and said, “God, if You’re not going to forgive them, just go ahead and kill me with them. Either forgive them for my sake, or destroy me with them.” That’s a pretty bold prayer. On the basis of his relationship with God, Moses invoked the forgiveness of God on a bunch of rebellious people. God changed His mind in answer to prayer, but I want you to know it wasn’t based on Moses’ arguments but on his relationship. Proof? Exodus 33:11, watch what it says about Moses. “And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend....”
All these great intercessors in the Bible, God describes them as being His friend. Intercession is not me just ignoring God until somebody has need and I’m such a wonderful person I run to God because I’m concerned about them, and get what they need and run it back to them. No. If I’m going to intercede effectively, I have to know the person that has the bread, not just the person that has the need. There must be a strength to my friendship and closeness to my relationship that allows me to beg in behalf of others based on my relationship with the Lord.
God spoke to Moses as a friend speaks to a friend. Remember the verse we looked at? “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” (John 15:14) Do you know what John 15:16 says two verses later? I am well aware that John 15 is the fruit bearing chapter of the Bible. It’s talking primarily about soulwinning, but He said in verse 14, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” In verse 16, two verses later, He said, “... that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” Remember that for me to be a friend of God is for me to do what He says. Not only that, it means for me to be intimate, close with God, to spend time with God.
Do you know why God created you to start with? When God created Adam and Eve and put them in the garden of Eden, their primary function was to walk with God in the cool of the day. God created me more for fellowship than for work. “Does that mean I ought not to work?” Yes, you ought to work. You ought to work to make a living and you ought to serve God. If you love Him, you’ll want to serve Him. But be careful you don’t get so busy with the work of God you have no time for the God of the work. God’s primary purpose for creating man was to have somebody that could choose to love Him back, that could choose to walk with Him and know Him personally and intimately. That means most people that are saved are complete failures, if that is the number one purpose and priority in the Christian life.
In John 11:41-42, Jesus is standing at the tomb of Lazarus. You understand that Jesus is God the Son, One with the Father. Jesus is interceding for Lazarus. “...Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always:...” Folks, you understand what it means for God to hear, don’t you? According to I John 5:14-15, if God hears, God answers. “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” It doesn’t just mean that God picked up the sound. It means God hears with the intent to answer. That’s what it means when it says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17) It doesn’t just mean because I heard a verse I have more faith automatically, but when I hear the Word of God with the intent to obey, it will increase my faith. When God hears, He hears with the intent to answer.
Jesus said, “...Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always:...” Jesus is saying, “I always get My prayers answered.” According to John 17, the greatest intercessory prayer recorded in the Word of God, He was One with the Father and He did always those things that pleased the Father, but in John 17:21 Jesus was praying for us and He said, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” Jesus always got His prayers answered, but He was always One with the Father. Jesus’ prayer was, “I want these folks to be one like You and I are One.” “What are you getting at, Preacher?” I’m just telling you that if I get in one accord with God, and my heart is bound up in the heart of God, then I will pray according to the will of God, and I’m going to get answers.
I think people often twist Psalm 37:4. “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” People always read into it that if I delight in God, He’ll give me everything I want, everything I desire. I don’t believe that’s what it means. I think if I delight in Him, He will give me the desires of my heart. He’ll put the desires in there that I ought to have. God will not just give me what I desire in the flesh, but He will give me spiritual desires. If my request comes from a desire that originated in the heart of God and was put in my heart by God, do you reckon God can honor that? If I just delight myself in His person and fall in love with God and commune with God and want to fellowship with God, He will put the right desires in here. When He gives me the desire, He can honor it. You will not impose your will upon God. Prayer is me getting to know God well enough, so that He can put His desires in my heart, and I cry out and intercede for what He wants.
There are two major problems with intercession. Number one is apathy, or the lack of intercession altogether. Most people are not even engaging in intercession. Isaiah 59:16 is an amazing verse about God. “And he saw that there was no man, and wondered...” That’s the same as if you said, “He marveled. He couldn’t believe it.” God “...saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor:...” How many? None. How many did He need? He couldn’t even find one. Do you know what it said? God marveled. He wondered that there was no intercessor.
Let me explain what that means. God looked down and said, “Is it that good? Are things are going so well that nobody needs to intercede? Is there nobody going to Hell? We don’t need an intercessor. The country is in good shape. Nobody needs to practice intercessory prayer. What’s going on? There’s no sin? No need? Is that why you’re not praying?” God looked down and said, “I can’t believe the shape things are in, and you’re not interceding. I can’t believe how many people are going to Hell, and you won’t even pray for them. I can’t believe the shape our nation is in, and you don’t have an intercessory prayer life.” God wondered. He couldn’t believe it.
Again if you’re talking about quotas, find out what He said in Ezekiel 22:30. “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” How many was God looking for? He was looking for just one friend. Because anybody that’s going to make up the hedge and stand in the gap has to get to know God first. They must have intimacy with God to have power in intercession. God said, “I just sought for one, just one. I found none.” Do you know what it says then? “Therefore have I poured out mine indignation...” He said, “I was looking for one friend, one person that would intercede, and I couldn’t find any. I had to judge them. I had no choice. I couldn’t find anybody that knew Me well enough to get an answer. I couldn’t find anybody that was even interested or cared.” The first problem is the lack of intercession.
Then there is a second problem, ineffective intercession. By the way, can I remind you what Samuel’s great fear was? Samuel talked to a bunch of rebels and said, “Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you:...” He said that it would be sin against God if I ceased to intercede for you. There are a lot of sins that you and I don’t classify as sin. We think if we’re not living in adultery, stealing, cheating and lying, that we’re great Christians. God said if you cease to intercede, it’s sin! No wonder we don’t have revival! The world is going to Hell and nobody can even get stirred up about it but God. He’s looking for an intercessor and finding none.
There are many reasons why we’re ineffective. One is sin. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:” (Psalm 66:18) “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:1-2) God doesn’t have a problem of inability. God will not hear because of the sin and iniquity that we have allowed and we justify in our lives. We will not repent as the people of God. People we love are going to burn in Hell because we didn’t have enough power with God when we did take the time to pray. We didn’t have any power because we had sin in our lives that we wouldn’t part with to get the answer. Our sin and worldliness was more valuable to us than their soul.
Not only that, but there is the problem of not having any time for God. Many people that live clean still don’t walk with God. I love what it said in Genesis 5:23-24 about Enoch. “And Enoch walked with God:...” He did that for 360 years. You don’t have to live to be that old. You ought to walk with God for every year of your life, every day of your life. Enoch knew God and walked with God.
Intercession is based on relationship. My wife can get me to do things for people that nobody else in the world can get me to do. She’ll get me to do things for people I don’t know and sometimes people I don’t even like. You say, “You’re a preacher. You’re supposed to like everybody.” No, I’m supposed to love everybody. Do you know why I will do it? Not because of them. I do it because of her. It’s not because I’m trying to help them, but because I love my wife and I want to do what she asks me. It’s the strength of our relationship. She can get me to do things based on our relationship that folks couldn’t get me to do with all the arguments or needs they could present.
During Abraham Lincoln’s administration, it was a rocky ride. There was a man on death row, who got a tremendous amount of publicity. Maybe he should not have been on death row, but he was. Abraham Lincoln was basically in favor of the man’s execution. High powered lawyers did everything they could to get a stay of execution. They tried to get to Lincoln and present their arguments, but they couldn’t even get in his office, couldn’t get an appointment. One day Lincoln’s son, Tad, without an appointment, without an invitation, walked into his dad’s office, sat down across the desk from his daddy. “Daddy,”
“You know that man, so and so.”
He said, “Yes.”
“Daddy, would you let him go for me?”
A tear escaped Abraham Lincoln’s eye, and he agreed with his son on the strength of their relationship that he would write a stay of execution. What high powered lawyers and all the arguments in the land couldn’t do, that little boy that had his heart string could get done without an appointment, without an argument, based on his close relationship.
What I’m telling you is there’s a world out here going to Hell, and some of them are people you love. There is Somebody that can meet the need. It’s God. But you can’t just wait until a disaster arises and rush into the presence of God and think you have power to intercede. Everybody in the Bible that determined to be a friend of God and develop an intimacy and friendship with God, they could ask and there was never any argument. Abraham asked and God answered. As long as Abraham kept asking, God kept answering, and never put any stipulations. God never set a quota. It was Abraham’s quota. If Abraham had dropped it down to, “Would you do it for me?” I believe God would have done it for him on the strength of their relationship.
There is a ministry of intercession, but only those with a close relationship to God can practice it. The ministry of intercession is so vital to revival, to souls being saved, to needs being met, but only those who determine to be a friend of God have the power to intercede and receive answers. If you don’t have any intimacy with God, you’re not going to be a good intercessor. It’s time the people of God decide to get to know Him and to delight in His person. It’s time we learn to walk with Him and commune with Him and have intimacy with God. If you’ll do that, you can have the same kind of clout with God that Abraham had.
Don’t you feel sorry for God? He doesn’t have any friends. Why? Is it because He’s not good? You say, “Well, that’s a strange statement. I don’t feel sorry for God. He doesn’t need sympathy.” But it’s pretty tragic, Somebody as wonderful as God doesn’t have friends. Nobody wants to spend time with Him. Everybody’s too busy with things that don’t really matter.
It’s time for some of us to decide to be a friend of God, to know God, to commune with God, to walk with God. If you’ll do that, you can beg for bread at midnight and get as many loaves as you need. You can intercede for folks and come to your Friend and get what they need. I’m not talking about being manipulative. I’m talking about genuinely deciding to be a friend of God. I’m talking about spending time in His presence. If I have a close relationship with God, I can intercede and He’ll answer, not because they deserve it, but on the strength of our relationship.
Do you have one of those? Do you have a relationship, a communion, an intimacy with God? Are you God’s friend? Do you have time in your busy schedule for God Almighty? There is a great need for the ministry of intercession, but we’re missing out, because intercession is based on the strength of our relationship.