| Prayer for the Saints: Intercession
|By prayer I mean talking to God, and by Saints I mean those who have humbled themselves in obedience to the gospel, and have called upon Jesus Christ to save them from the wrath of God which they have earned by way of their life long rebellion against God's rule in their lives.
An obvious example of an act of intercession would be to save a drowning person. They could not save themselves either because of exhaustion or because they don't know how to swim, or perhaps because they were knocked senseless into the water - or whatever; such a person will surely perish unless someone mindful of their danger intercedes for them in the situation.
A less obvious example of intercession would be to defend someone in their absence, such as where someone is assassinating the character of someone else who isn't present to defend themselves against unchallenged accusations. The one who stands in between the accuser and the accused (in the absence of the accused) is interceding on the other's behalf.
Intercessory prayer is prayer that is prayed for others, rather than for ourselves.
When I was young in the ministry, my elderly mentor brought my name to the throne daily. Whether he knew I wasn't as likely to pray for my own needs - or even recognize my own needs, or not - he took the charge of praying for me faithfully and seriously. He would rise early in the morning (between 3 and 4 a.m.) and pray for hours each day - not without tears. I used to come to be mentored by him at 5 a.m., and the door was always unlocked, so I could come down stairs for our time together, and many a time I would come in quietly and find him weeping on his knees begging God to work in the life of this person or that person. If I painted that scene for you with any clarity, your eyes would grow moist even as my do with every recollection. It is enough to say that the man knew how to intercede - and did so with all of his heart.
I know that he continued to intercede for me well after I had moved onto ministry. I know because I felt the difference after he died. The difference between being held up daily in the earnest and fervent prayers of a godly saint, and not being held up daily by that one faithful servant, whose heart so clearly reflected the heart of my Savior.
I've tried in a few deleted efforts to capture how the loss of this one man's intercessory prayer impacted my life - and I can only sum it up this way: it made me understand how profoundly important it is to intercede for others on a daily basis. I've been preaching for almost twenty years now, and I wonder if in that time any of my ministry has had as profound an effect as the ministry of those who have prayed for me.
Let me frame that again.
I wonder if Christ's ministry to others through me is anywhere near as effective as His ministry to me through the prayers of others.
When I was young in my faith, I thought that preaching was the most important ministry in the church. You're expecting me to say, that now I understand that prayer is the most important ministry - but that's not it. Prayer is certainly important - as important as any other work of Christ in the church. But I want the reader to understand two things:  I was never really prepared to intercede for others until I was able to see how profoundly important intercessory prayer was. And  Every ministry that Christ empowers in the church is profoundly important.
That isn't to say that all ministries are equal in effect. Surely the faithful preaching of God's word has a greater and more immediate effect on the spiritual health of a church than many other ministries. Surely the gifts of help and giving etc. (to name a couple) are just as important, if not as obvious. Each gift that is exercised is the work of Christ in the church - and to diminish any such work of Christ is to diminish Christ himself in our understanding.
But for all that, I will say that intercessory prayer is something that I am growing deeper in and accompanied with a vital sense of spiritual urgency. I am finally coming to understand experientially the zeal of the prophet Samuel when declared, "far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, ...." (cf. 1 Samuel 12:23)
The more I lean on Christ, the more Christ I find to lean on.
posted by Daniel @