On 25th of July, Dr Bradley Stuart, founder and director of Yada International, came to share about the difference between intercession and prayer at New Life Restoration Centre, Petaling Jaya.
Organized by Malaysia National Prayer Nurturing (MNPN) and Malaysian Youth Prayer Gathering (MYPG), the event was held to nurture intercessors and prayer warriors amongst the young people.
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men (1 Tim 2:1 KJV)
Supplication, prayer, and intercession are deepening levels of communing with God. Supplication is when we come to God with our prayer list. Prayer is when we come to God with what is in our heart. And supplication is when we start asking deeper questions such as the strategy to solve a problem.
As intercessors, we identify God’s heartbeat for a matter and we stand in the gap for God on the matter. How do we identify God’s heartbeat? We draw into intimacy with God, to hear from Him a strategy for practical action and deliverance to completely solve a specific problem.
For example, Dr Bradley realized that the more he prayed for a specific problem, the worse it got. Hence, during his intercession with God, God showed him a tree with bad fruits, which only produced more bad fruits when pruned. Hence, the way to deal with the problem is to completely resolve it from the roots with a practical strategy.
Prayers, on the other hand, are more general and are used to directly present the needs to Jesus, so that Jesus can carry out the intercession for us. It is simply becoming aware of the needs of people and lifting their needs to Jesus. Prayers are often done in pastoral and care.
Prayer warriors also carry a larger burden than intercessors because they cover a wider area of needs, for a larger group of people.
But intercession is used on a selected few, as per need basis. For example, intercession may involve probing a specific reason of an unanswered prayer. Hence, intercession must be specific and prophetic.
The church needs both prayer warriors and intercessors. The prayer warriors have the duty of bringing the needs of the people to God, covering their needs and petitions.
But when the prayer warriors identify a prayer that needs intercession, these prayers are passed to intercessors to intercede for a practical strategy to completely solve the matter. Sometimes, intercessors also act as watchmen to alert the prayer warriors about a coming attack, so they can stand together against an enemy.
Hence, without intercessors, prayer warriors would not have enough time to carry out their duties. Without prayer warriors to identify deeper needs, intercessors will not be able to remain in a place of intimacy to hear from God clearly.
What is Paul’s understanding of intercession?
We are called to pray “on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” and to “keep on praying.” (Eph 6:18)
Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Eph 6:18 NIV)
In other words, we are called to be disciplined in prayer though resisting into getting in a schedule, routine, pattern or formula. This is because we are called to “pray in the Spirit.” Hence, that means we need to allow room for Him to prompt us in His Time and in His Way to intercede. And when we follow His prompting, we will receive fresh revelation and manna every time.
Another way of intercession is praying with the Spirit or praying with an unknown tongue. Although many charismactic churches called praying in the spirit as praying in tongues, it is actually praying with the Spirit, as mentioned by 1 Corinthians 14:14-15.
For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding. (1 Cor 14:14-15)
Finally, travailing is the deepest form of intercession, as mentioned by Paul to the church of Galatia. (Galatians 4:19)
Travail refers to the labour pains of a woman, or painful or laborious efforts. Thus, travailing involves our Bridegroom (Jesus Christ) sharing His heart’s cry with His Bride (the Church) and giving us the Holy Spirit as our midwife, to give birth to His Heavenly purpose on earth.
My little children, of whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you. (Galatians 4:19)
How does travailing look like? Romans 8:25 NIV mentioned that “the Spirit intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the spirit.” The word “wordless groans” is immediately followed by “and he who searches our hearts.” This shows that the “groans” here refers to the groans of the hearts.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. (Romans 8:25-27 NIV)
In travailing, Jesus shares with us His heart burden for a specific person, group, or matter. And we began to feel His pain, sorrow, desire, and earnestness birthing from our hearts.
We know that these feelings did not come from ourselves but they are supernaturally birthed from Him, so that we can identify with God’s heartbeat.
After travailing with Jesus, we have a newborn and intense passion and desire in us, to bring forth the good Will of God for the specific person, group, or matter, into reality.
And that is the difference between prayer and intercession, both unique but inseparable force of the Church in hosting God’s Presence and Power.
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