It is God's instructions to His people. In 2 Chr 7:14 we see:
"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
God's requirements are fourfold: that His people humble themselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways. Upon these conditions God promises to hear the prayers of His people and to heal their land.
"I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none."
The Lord was looking for a man, not 100, nor 1000, and in verse 31 we see the consequences resulting from not taking up the challenge of intercession.
There is a need for intercession, and it is God's calling. We must not be deaf or resistant to His calling, for when God calls for an intercessor, it means that the situation warrants it.
Read Ezekiel chapter 22 regarding the situation in which God calls for an intercessor.
What is intercession?
It is - Entreating/pleading on behalf of another
Standing in the gap
It is praying into existence God's will, the burden which He has placed in your heart, rather than the reverse, which is coming to Him with a "shopping list" prayer. God reveals to us through His Word and the Holy Spirit the purposes which He is working out, not that we may be passive spectators on the sidelines of history, but that we may personally identify ourselves with His purposes, and thus become actively involved in their fulfilment. Revelation demands involvement.
Isaiah chapter 59
This chapter describes sinfulness and God's judgement because there was no intercessor.
"He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene."
Again this chapter underlines the necessity for intercession.
What are the characteristics of an intercessor?
They are -
One cannot pray effectively at a distance for something one does not know. The intercessor must feel and know what is happening. The spiritual climate of the situation for which he is praying should be known.
One must be specific in prayer.
Nehemiah interceded and identified for/with the people. He identified with the sins of the people. Note the number of We's and I's.
Daniel identified with the people.
Jesus as the perfect intercessor. He completely identified with us by his becoming man.
Heb 5:7; 7:24-25; 13:3
Paul describes Jesus as the perfect and everliving intercessor, and also tells us to put ourselves in the positions of those whom we are praying for, to feel what they are feeling.
Moses so identified with the people that he was prepared even to the point of laying down his life to intercede for them.
The point of all this is that the intercessor must firstly identify with what he is interceding for, to completely feel the situation, and must be prepared even to lay down his life in the process of intercession.
The Holy Spirit wants to use us as a channel to intercede, and as such, we need to be rid of the following:
a) Love of the world (1 Jn 2:15-17)
b) Love of money (1 Tim 6:10)
c) Personal ambition (3 Jn :9-10)
d) Appetites of the body pride, sexual gratification, laziness, eating (Gal 5:19~21; Eph 2:3)
All these things have to go to the cross. (Gal 2:18-20; 5:24; 6:14).
The intercessor must feel a burden for the situation to which he is called to intercede. This burden must come from God, not from our own fleshly desire.
To receive the burden, watch and pray. (Hab 1:1-4; 3:2).
When you see the mountain, you are challenged to remove it in Jesus's name. (Rom 8:39; 9:1-5)
All through the Bible there is a delicate balance between the fulfilment of God's predetermined purpose and the exercise of human free will. on the one hand, the eternal counsels of God, revealed in the prophesies and promises in His Word, are sure of ultimate fulfilment. on the other hand, there are occasions when God requires the exercise of human faith and human will as an indispensable condition for the fulfilment of His counsels. To understand this balance, and to apply it in prayer, is the essence of true intercession (Daniel is a good example).
The intercessor should also be persistent in prayer.
In Gen 32:22-31, Jacob wrestled with God, and would not let Him go until He had blessed him, even though Jacob was in agony with a dislocated hip. Likewise we should embrace God in prayer, and continue praying until there is a "breakthrough".
3) Authority (of intercession)
The authority of the intercessor is in Jesus Christ.
Intercession puts the intercessor in a prevailing place with God (and moves God). (Exo 32:31~34) That is why the intercessor must have an intimate relationship with God, so that he may know the mind (will) of God.
The intercessor is in the gained place of authority.
God gives this place/authority to the intercessor who is willing to pay the price.
Spiritual warfare is involved.
2 Cor 10:3-5 The spiritual weapons which we are to use.
Eph 6:10-18 Be strong in the Lord. There is no excuse for weakness. Put on God's whole armour everyday (literally), and not parts of it.
Spiritual warfare is not only defence of oneself but attacking the enemy in his territory. We have to do it, and be prepared to pay the price for it.
God in us is stronger than any adversary. We must realise this.
Note that intercession and warfare is in the spiritual plane, and it is in this realm that we must operate. We must not bring it down to the carnal and flesh level. The enemy operates in the supernatural and it is there that we must face him (Eph 6:12). Therefore submission to the Holy Spirit and empowerment by Him is not an option but a necessity.
Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:16-21
"In the last days I will pour out my Spirit on all people"
Read again Isaiah 59.
For we wrestle not with flesh and blood but with the powers of darkness in the supernatural sphere.
Remember, Satan is well organised.
But, we can stand up against the strategies of the devil.
Be weary of deception.
The devil will deceive a lot in the last days.
Therefore, we need covering, fellowship - we need to be subject to a spiritual authority eg. pastors, elders.
We cannot stand alone.
Read also 2 Tim 3:12-13, 1 Jn 3 and 1 Jn 7.
"..... that all of them may be one"
The church must be one. Together we must stand.
Weapons of Spiritual Warfare
Weapons can be used both for defensive and offensive purposes. we normally think of only the sword of the Spirit as the weapon of attack. In Rom 13:12, we are also told to put on the armour of light, which is both defensive and offensive as it penetrates the darkness.
1) Prayer (Eph 6:18)
Prayer is the most powerful offensive weapon.
Fast and pray, both individually and as a church, always, and in the Spirit.
2) The Word of God (Heb 12:4)
The Word of God is another very powerful offensive weapon.
The Word must become flesh in you, and it must be in the heart, and not in the mind.
We must feed on the Word of God everyday and drink of the Spirit.
3) The Name of Jesus (Mark 16:17)
In the Name of Jesus we have the authority over all the power of the enemy.
Claim the protection of the blood of Jesus. It is both a defensive and offensive weapon. The blood is not some talisman or chant, but it is because we have been freed from the bondage of sin through His precious blood. (1 Jn 1:7; 1 Pet 1:18-19).
In the name of Jesus, resist the devil always, and he will flee from you.
2 Tim 2:3-5, 10
2 Tim 2:11-13.
Endure and be faithful.
THE PURPOSE OF FASTING IN INTERCESSION AND WARFARE
In Matt 6:1-18 Christ gives instructions to His disciples concerning three related duties: in giving. praying and fasting. In these verses, Christ says "When you give .... When you pray .... When you fast" In no case does Christ say, if, but always when. Christ expects all His disciples to regularly practice all three duties.
What does fasting result in?
1) Intensifies prayer
2) Brings deliverance and victory
3) Precipitates God's latter rain
In the congregation at Antioch the leaders were praying and fasting together. This is described as ministering to the Lord. The majority of Christians these days know very little of this aspect of ministry. Yet, in the divine order, ministry to the Lord comes before ministry to men. Out of the ministry to the Lord, the Holy Spirit brings forth the direction and the power needed for effective ministry to men.
2 Chr 20:1-30
Faced with invasion, Jehoshaphat proclaimed a national fast (v.3) God's people were called to unite in public, collective fasting and prayer for divine intervention. The outcome (v.22-30) was that the enemy was defeated without the use of any military weapon (weapons of the flesh). There are three important lessons to be learnt.
Firstly, anti-Christian forces are united in hatred and opposition toward all who truly love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ, and they are not concerned about denominational distinctions between Christians. Therefore, God's people should follow Judah's example and unite in prayer and fasting.
Secondly, the story of Jehoshaphat demonstrates the need for spiritual gifts. It was the gift of prophecy that gave both encouragement and direction to Judah in their time of crisis. The supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit are still needed just as much by the church today.
Thirdly, the account demonstrates the supremacy of spiritual power over carnal power.
Joel chapters 1-2
In Joel 1:14, 2:12, 2:15-17, three times God calls His people to fasting (note the special emphasis upon the leadership). Then there follows the promise (2:28): "Afterward I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh...." After what? After God's people have obeyed His call to fasting and prayer. These days we see only a small fraction of the total outpouring which the Bible clearly predicts. God is waiting for us to meet His requirements. it will take united prayer and fasting to precipitate the final fullness of the latter rain.
The "former rain" (outpouring at Pentecost) brought into being a church that satisfied the divine standards of purity, power and order. The "latter rain" will restore the church to the same standard. Then - and only then - will the church be able to fulfil its destiny in the world. This is the end toward which God is now working.
Intercession is warfare; sometimes there may be casualties. The warfare requires teamwork, enabling us to cover one another. Put on the whole armour of God. Be single-minded. Meet specifically to pray.
True intercession is far more than pleading with God as though we were trying to get Him to do something He is unwilling to do. it is rather His project of getting us to the place where we understand His will and can speak it into reality. This requires intimacy with God.
Only when we are prepared to lay down our lives - spirit, soul, and body - can we become real intercessors.
"Shaping History Through Prayer and Fasting" by Derek Prince
"Pray in the Spirit" by Arthur Wallis
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© Nicholas Tay 1990