On 25th of July, 158 participants came to learn about the meaning of intercession from Dr Bradley Stuart – founder and director of Yada International – at New Life Restoration Centre, Petaling Jaya. Yada International provides resources to help the Body of Christ to know God’s destiny for them through intimacy with Him.
Two-third of the participants were under 35 years old, answering the burden and call of organizers Malaysia National Prayer Nurturing (MNPN) and Malaysian Youth Prayer Gathering (MYPG) to nurture the young in finding intimacy with God through prayer and intercession.
Dr Bradley began teaching about intercession with its meaning first. Intercession means to “enter-into-a-session-with-God.” According to the Collins Dictionary, intercession is “to come between two parties or act as a mediator or advocate; to intercede in the strike.” The two key words here are being a “mediator” and an “advocate.”
So, what does the Bible tell us about intercession? Although the word “intercession” is found a few times in the Bible, its true meaning can be seen through many practical examples of people recorded in the Bible.
For one, Moses stood in the gap for the Israelites before God, when the Israelites sinned against God in making the golden calf. (Exo 32) He reminded God of His Covenant with the Israelites. And this turned God’s wrath away. Psalm 106:23 says, “Therefore He (God) said that He would destroy them, had not Moses His chosen one stood in the breach before Him, to turn away His wrath from destroying them.” Hence, when God’s wrath comes, we can call for His Mercy.
Moses and Aaron also stood in the gap and atoned for the Israelites’ rebellion against Moses, which stopped the plague that killed 14,700 people that day. (Numbers 16:49) Number 16:48 says, “He (Aaron) took his stand between the dead and the living, so that the plague was checked (or stopped).” What a powerful privilege God has given us, that we can stand in the gap and stop the plague of corruption in this land. This is because God is a God of truth and justice.
We can also see how intercession and practical actions for deliverance come hand-in-hand. When Moses was on his way to Egypt to redeem the Israelites, the Lord sought to kill him. This is because although Moses was chosen, he had not circumcized his son, which defied the ordinance of God. Having discerned this, his wife Zipporah quickly took a flint and circumcized her son. And this has stopped God from killing Moses. (Exo 4:24-26) Hence, Zipporah had saved her husband’s life by taking practical actions, in addition to praying in her room.
Nehemiah had also taken practical actions after interceding. Having heard of the ruined walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah wept and mourned for days, fasting and praying before God. He intereceded for Jerusalem, saying, “On behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have sinned agaisnt You; I and my father’s house have sinned.” (Neh 1:6) Nehemiah interceded for Israel’s sins and reminded God of His Covanent with them. (Neh 1:8-9) After that, he prayed for God to grant him favor when he peititioned to King Artaxerxes to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. (Neh 1:11) God heard his prayer and granted him favor. And so, that was how the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt.
Prophet Daniel also saved lives by interceding and taking practical actions. During the Babylonian reign, the King Nebuchadnezzar ordered the slaining of all wisemen in the land, because none of them could descirbe his troubled dream. Having heard this, Daniel who was amongst the wisemen, interceded with three of his friends (Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah) for God to reveal the dream. So, God heard his prayer and revealed to Daniel the mystery of the dream. Daniel took this revelation to the king. And because of Daniel, all the lives of wisemen of Babylon including Daniel and his three friends, were saved. (Dan 2)
The role of intercessor is evidently powerful in the Bible, changing the course of history and saving the lives of many. When Job was struck with disaster after disaster, he mourned and said, “There is no umpire between us, who may lay his hand upon us both.” (Job 9:33) In the Jewish law, the umpire or arbitrator works to bestow a day between party to party, for a certain time to decree, judge, or decide a matter in court. And we know God is constantly looking for a man to stand in the gap. For Ezekiel 22:30 says, “I (God) searched for a man among them who would build up the walll and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I have found on one.” And how blessed we are that we have intercessors in this land, standing in the gap between God and this nation.
Nevertheless, when God reveals to us His “pearls” of wisdom and revelation, guard them carefully as precious pearls. Matthew 7:6 says, “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” In a group setting especially, pray for the spirit of discernment and wisdom in knowing who and when to release these “pearls.”
Hence, who can intercede or who can enter-into-a-session with God? Every believer in Jesus Christ can intercede but some go deeper than others. Ezekiel 47:1-5 sheds light on the depth of intercession. In this passage, God was revealing to Ezekiel a vision of the waters from the temple.
In verse 3 of Ezekiel 47, it says, “When the man went out toward the east with a line in his hand, he measured a thousand cubits, and he led me through the water, water reaching the ankles.” At this level, we pray occasionally, usually when we are in need. Also called as an “SOS” or “emergency” prayers, the prayer starts and ends quickly like a fizzle.
Verse 4 brings us into a deeper level of intercession. It says, “Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the knees.” At this level, we become more serious and disciplined with our prayer, having seen that God answers our prayer. Hence, we want to go deeper.
Continuing with verse 4, it says, “Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the loins (around the waistline).” At this level, we began to wait upon God and listen to Him. We become alligned with God in our prayer and intercession, praying and interceding for the people according to what we hear from God.
And finally, verse 5 tells us the deepest level of intercession. It says, “Again he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not ford (or cross), for the water had risen, enough water to swim in, a river that could not be forded.” At this point, intercession is no longer a ministry but a way of life. We trust God enough to allow Him to carry us according to His stream, flow, and direction. We no longer resist His Will in our lives but we fully surrender and submit to His Course for us. Instead of a one-time overarching decision – to be in the river – we are called to make this decision moment-to-moment, day-to-day.
Each believer in Jesus Christ can go in as deep as they desire or as they are willing to allow the Lord to take them to. Every one of us are called to pray and intercede. It is a way of life, not a ministry for the “more spiritual” believers. In fact, praying and interceding is an oxygen-tank, a necessary way of life to develop a more intimate relationship with God. More than a feeling-driven action, praying and interceding is an act of our will against our flesh. Jesus said before, “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt 26:41) If we were to pray and intercede according to our feelings, chances are we would not pray and intercede regularly and frequently.
So, what happens when we are in the river, at a stage where we can trust and surrender to God? Ezekiel 47 gives us a beautiful picture of believers in the River of God.
He (man in the vision) said to me (prophet Ezekiel), “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he brought me back to the bank of the river. Now when I had returned, behold, on the bank of the river there were very many trees on the one side and on the other. Then he said to me, “These waters go out towards the sea, and the waters of the sea become fresh. It will come about that every living creature which swarms in every place where the river goes, will live. And there will be very many fish, for these waters go there and the others become fresh.” (Eze 47:6-9)
Continuing on verse 12, God revealed to Ezekiel with this vision:
“By the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail. They will bear every month because their water flows from their sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.”
What a beautiful picture of God’s fullness in a believer, soaked in His River! We could see the brimming abundance, the constant renewal, and the continual bearing of fruit. It is a picture of paradise! The fullness of Jesus Christ in a believer, that all of us can go to, even here on earth. What a great promise we can have in God. Hence, praying and interceding is not an ancilliary religious pursuit, but a way of living and communing with our Living and Loving God.
May we all say, “God, we want You. Take us deeper with You. Teach us to pray and intercede. Enlarge our appetite and increase our desire to pray and intercede, according to Your Word. We want to go to Your Living River.” Amen.
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