In this session we will consider the subject of intercessory prayer, a form of prayer which encompasses many others. Essentially meaning simply to pray for someone else, intercessory prayer is nevertheless the most potent force available to man.
Nations and the history of civilizations have been determined by the presence of a man or women willing to intercede. We also include in this session the subject of warfare prayer because engagement with the enemy is most often experienced when we venture into intercessory prayer, because it is through intercession that satan’s strongholds are destroyed and the Kingdom of our great God established.
Technically, intercession is not prayer at all. Intercession itself describes the act whereby someone “Goes or passes in between; to act between parties with a view to reconcile those who differ or contend; to interpose; to mediate or make intercession; mediation” Webster’s Dictionary.
Webster’s defines “mediate” as “between two extremes; to interpose between parties as the equal friend of each; to negotiate between persons at variance with a view to reconciliation; to mediate a peace; intercession.”
In its simplest form to intercede means “to take the place of another; to stand on someone else’s behalf.”
The greatest work of intercession of course was the cross. Jesus took our place, reconciling us to the Father. Not only did He come and represent God to man, He was also the representative of mankind. It is through His work of intercession that we can now pray prayers of intercession.
“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,” (1 Tim 2:5 NKJV)
Through Christ’s intercession the world was reconciled unto God, demon powers were broken, sickness healed, creation redeemed etc. Our prayers of intercession are only an extension of His work of intercession. Through our prayers of intercession we establish and distribute the results of Jesus perfect work of intercession. This is what gives great confidence to the intercessor on the earth. The work of salvation and deliverance is complete. Nothing is left undone. We, through our believing prayer, release the application of what has already been done in Christ.
Our work of intercessory prayer here on earth is a partnership with the Great Intercessor in Heaven, Jesus Christ. Together we establish His victory. Our prayers of intercession release His work of intercession, making it effectual here in the earth and in our generation.
God looks for intercessors
God Himself is looking for those who will partner with Him in this way:
“So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.” (Ezek 22:30 NKJV)
“He saw that there was no man, And wondered that there was no intercessor; Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; And His own righteousness, it sustained Him.” (Is 59:16 NKJV)
A holy partnership must be entered into. God has given authority in the earthly realm to mankind (see Authority of the Believer: Module 5, Lessons 15-16 for a discussion of these truths). He requires men and women to represent Him and His Word in the spiritual realm of this earth in order that it may be established. He takes no pleasure in the sin and judgement of man, and seeks someone to take the place together with Christ and stand in a place of mediation; on the one hand touching God, and with the other touching the person or persons being prayed for.
Mary Alice Isleib says in her book “Effective Fervent Prayer”:
“God is looking for a people who will stand in the gap! …(He) is looking for someone – just one person – to stand in the gap, to pray for His will to be done, and to pray for the Holy Spirit to bring the answer to the problem. He is waiting for Christians to use their God-given authority to break the powers of darkness that torment, harass, and hinder in the situation for which they are praying.”
This is intercessory prayer.
Forms of Intercession
With an understanding of what intercession is we will now enter into a discussion regarding the exercise of intercessory prayer. Intercessory prayer in essence is not a kind of prayer apart from others, but rather an application of prayer principles and the different kinds of prayer on behalf of others.
For example, the prayer of faith may be prayed on behalf of someone else’s situation. Or a prayer of agreement may be entered into for someone else’s need. This is a form of intercessory prayer.
If, together with the Holy Spirit, we will choose to give ourselves in this manner, powerful results will be released. Nations and cities stand, waiting for someone to take the place of intercession on their behalf; someone to plead Christ’s cause for their salvation (much like Abraham in Genesis 18 interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah).
We will now look at some other forms of prayer most often utilised in an intercessory context.
Standing in the gap
In this kind of prayer we, as intercessory pray-ers, seek to connect someone in need with the God who can answer that need. They may be unsaved for example; Christ’s blood has been shed for them (2 Cor 5:18-19), but they need someone to stand on their behalf and call forth God’s purposes for their life. We stand between the person, identifying ourselves with them and pleading according to the Word and promise of God on their behalf. Spiritually, with one hand we take hold of the person, with the other we touch God, bringing the two together. We become, in a sense, the conduit through which Christ’s purpose for that person can flow.
The Hebrew word for intercession, “paga”, has many meanings. One of these is “to meet”.
Dutch Sheets in his book ‘Intercessory Prayer’ say of this:
“Intercession creates a meeting. Intercessors meet with God; they also meet with the powers of darkness…Similar to Christ’s often our meeting with God is to affect another meeting – a reconciliation. We meet with Him asking Him to meet with someone else. We become the go-between: “Heavenly Father, I come to you today (a meeting) asking You to touch Tom (another meeting)…Whether for a person or a nation, regardless of the reason, when we’re used to create a meeting between God and humans, releasing the fruit of Christ’s work, paga has happened.” (Intercessory Prayer, Dutch Sheets)
Standing in the gap also involves creating a gap. Standing in the spiritual realm and shielding people from the assault of darkness. Again, we quote from Dutch Sheets:
“On the opposite end of the spectrum, as Christ did through spiritual warfare, our meeting with the enemy is to undo a meeting – a breaking, a severing, a disuniting. All of our praying intercession will involve one or both of these facets: reconciliation or breaking; uniting or disuniting.” (ibid)
The Hebrew word paga throughout Scripture often carries violent connotations, and is frequently used as a battlefield term (eg: Judges 8:21; 15:12; 1 Sam 22:17-18; 2 Samuel 1:15; 1 Kings 2:25-26).
In the context of intercessory prayer our meetings can often be violent confrontations with the powers of darkness. We, as Christ’s representatives on earth, are called to enforce the victory He won over the powers of darkness.
Binding and Loosing
Matthew 16:19 tell us:
“And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”” (Matt 16:19 NKJV)
The word “bind” means “to forbid, to stop, and to declare unlawful and improper.” The word “loose” means “to release, to fire, to give free movement, unfettered, lack of restraint, and to declare lawful”. Legally ‘luo’ means to “pronounce or determine that someone or something is no longer bound; to dissolve or void a contract or anything that legally binds”. Physically it means to “dissolve or melt, break or beat something to pieces or untie something that is bound.”
“Through confrontational intercessory prayer we “meet with the powers of darkness, enforcing the victory Christ accomplished when He met them in His work of intercession.” (Sheets, p57)
We ‘bind’ the work of the enemy, declaring it unlawful, and ‘loose’ the person we are praying for from the hold of darkness. We also release and declare over their lives the perfect will of God.
Setting boundaries through prayer
Another use of the word ‘paga’ in the Old Testament is also revealing. In Joshua 19 ‘paga’ is used to describe the extent to which a boundary reaches. It speaks of the ‘boundary’ line.
Through intercession we establish protective boundaries around ourselves and others. We make a gap between ourselves and the enemy, forbidding that he cross certain lines.
“You have not gone up into the gaps to build a wall for the house of Israel to stand in battle on the day of the LORD…So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.” (Ezek 13:5; 22:20 NKJV)
Proverbs 4:23 tells us that the ‘issues’ of life flow directly from the heart. The word “issues” includes the concept of borders or boundaries (Strong’s #8444). Through consistent intercessory prayer we establish these borders according to the will and Word of our Father, again enforcing and possessing what He has promised for our lives and the lives of our cities and nations.
- A lawyer at God’s throne
Although not ‘legalistic’ in the negative sense of the word, there are legal aspects to mature prayer that can be highly effective when utilised according to God’s pattern.
The Bible speaks of times where we can come and plead before God on our own or on behalf of another. Job lamented that no one was found to plead the case of mankind:
“For He is not a man, as I am, That I may answer Him, and that we should go to court together. Nor is there any mediator between us, who may lay his hand on us both.” (Job 9:32-33 NKJV)
This is clearly a prophetic cry for the intercessory work of Christ, but again, the intercessory work is applied through intercessory prayer here and now on earth.
In intercessory prayer we stand and plead the case before God for the salvation of others on the basis of Christ’s finished work. Through Him all men were reconciled. We have a very strong basis for our intercessory petitions, and indeed God Himself invites us to come and reason with Him according to these truths:
““Come now, and let us reason together (argue, convince, plead, daysman),” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18 NKJV)
God is looking for people who know His will, and how to stand on His word, on behalf of the people He so dearly loves and died for.
Mary Alice Isleib says of this,
“That’s what we do in the work of intercessory prayer. We stand on the Word of God, speak the Word of God, take His Word into difficult and challenging situations, and it gives God something He can work with in the earth. God’s highest and best is to work with men and women in the earth. When they are basing their prayers on the law of His Word, He has obligated Himself to honour His Word.”Effective Fervent Prayer, Mary Alice Isleib
One of the reasons that the least popular meetings in the church are often either the evangelistic outreaches or the prayer meetings is that both of these engage head on with the powers of darkness. Once we are lost to him, satan is fine with us so long as we just stay within the safe boundaries of the church. He will tolerate us worshipping on Sunday mornings, and attending seminars and other Bible classes, but if we begin to pray or evangelise we are intruding on what he considers to be his territory.
This is why, when we venture out in prayer, we not only engage with God at a deeper level, but we also engage with the enemy. We begin to operate in the spiritual realm, and this attracts spiritual attention. Particularly fierce are the battles that are fought when we engage in concerted and persevering intercessory prayer. Satan knows that victory for him is impossible, but nevertheless he seeks to hold his captives, hoping that we, as God’s chosen representatives and enforcers, will give in and back off.
God has given us a number of powerful spiritual weapons with which to fight and establish the victory he so completely won over satan through the cross and the resurrection.
- The Covenant Word
- The Blood of Jesus
- The Name of Jesus
- A New Nature
We have spoken of the new nature that we received through Christ in previous sessions. It is this new nature that allows us to now live for Him instead of for ourselves; to truly follow Him and lay down our life in love for others. It is from this Christ-like heart that intercession for others will flow:
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13 NKJV)
Intercession flows from the compassionate heart of God, and we are one spirit with Him when we enter into this kind of prayer.
Revelation tells us:
“And they overcame him (satan and the powers of darkness) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” (Rev 12:11 NKJV)
Our lives have been laid down with Christ. We have chosen not to love our lives, but rather to lose them and gain new life in Christ. This puts us in a very powerful position spiritually. The person we once were, under the dominion of satan, no longer lives. We have died and been raised to a new life. The covenant connection to darkness has been severed, and our citizenship and loyalty is now to a new Kingdom (Col 1:13). Coupled with a life lived in practical holiness, it is from this place of spiritual authority in Christ that we now exercise powerful spiritual weapons to dislodge the enemy in our own lives and in the lives of others:
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” (2 Cor 10:3-5 NKJV)
One of the most powerful weapons we have at our disposal is an understanding of the covenant we now have with Almighty God. We will cover this important subject in more detail in the next module, but include a basic teaching here in the context of prayer.
The Scripture quoted earlier from Revelation 12:11 says that someone who has lost their life to Christ overcomes the evil one through the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of their testimony. Both of these things are powerfully connected to the idea of covenant. [See Module 7: Walking With God: Blood Covenant]
Throughout the Old Testament covenants were made. A covenant is an agreement made between two parties so binding that each party would rather die than break the agreement. Most often blood was shed as part of the process of making covenant to highlight that each party was in essence signing the agreement with their own lifeblood. You and I have an eternal covenant made with Almighty God through Christ. His was the blood that ratified the agreement, making it binding.
Each party entering into a covenant would give themselves to the other. What belongs to me now belongs to you and visa versa. The marriage covenant is a perfect example of this. Moreover, in a marriage the wife takes the name of her husband. She now has the right and authority to use that name and all that it represents. The authority of the husband’s name belongs also to the wife.
As Christ’s Bride, the church has been given His name to use. He conquered satan, death, sickness, poverty and the grave! His name is the name above all others and the name at which all others must bow.
“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:9-11 NKJV)
In our use of the blood and the name in prayer we declare the covenant. The word of our testimony is no longer that we are defeated or sick, but that we are more than conquerors. Jesus Himself has given us authority over every demon power.
“Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10:19 NKJV)
“And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.” (Matt 10:1 NKJV)
This authority can be exercised in prayer as we declare and enforce the covenant that Christ established through His shed blood, and make His Word our testimony (just as Jesus made the Word His testimony when He faced satan in the temptation; “It is written…” (Matt 4).
It is only as we dislodge powers in the heavenly places that change can occur in the natural realm. We considered this truth in our module on Spiritual Realities. As Wesley Duewel points out in his book ‘Mighty Prevailing Prayer’, “You must overthrow the invisible forces of satan if you would see things and lives changed visibly before you.”
We must remember in warfare that we are not coming against spiritual powers in our own strength or wisdom, but in the Name (as representatives) of Jesus. His authority is behind that name, and when we use it in prayer it is as if He Himself were praying. I am not suggesting arbitrary or frivolous use of the name, nor an immature picking of fights in the spiritual realm, which is both dangerous and stupid, but rather a calculated and informed assault on the powers of darkness through a thorough knowledge of God’s Word, a Covenant mentality and loyalty to Christ, and a revelation of the absolute victory of Christ.
The best book I have found which covers these areas of Prayer Warfare is Wesley Duewel’s “Mighty Prevailing Prayer”. In the book, he covers subjects such as prayer warfare, the dangers of prayer warfare, militant use of the Word in prayer, and binding and loosing in detail.
Scriptural Subjects for Intercessory Prayer
Although almost all situations and people can be made subjects for prayer, the Bible encourages prayer for particular things, giving us both confidence and authority to enter into prayer for these things assured of an answer.
- The Kingdom and will of God to come in the earth (Matthew 5:9-13)
- All rulers, authorities, governments and influencers of society (1 Timothy 2:2)
- All men (the unsaved population) (Acts 7:60; 1 Timothy 2:4)
- New believers (2 Thessalonians 1:11; Galatians 4:19)
- Backsliders (1John 5:16)
- Saints everywhere (Ephesians 6:18; James 5:16)
- Ministers of the gospel (Ephesians 6:19-20; 1 Thessalonians 5:25)
- The enemies of the gospel (Matthew 5:44)
- The sick and needy (James 5:13-16)
- The believer’s own personal life (Jude 20; Romans 8:26-27)
- Revival and the outpouring of God’s Spirit (Zechariah 10:1; Psalm 85:6)
- The Nations (Psalm 2:8)
- Labourers for the harvest of souls (Matthew 9:37-38)
- Israel (Psalm 122:6; Isaiah 62:6-7)
Take time now to pray for some of these things. If you are in a classroom situation split into pairs or groups of three. Have each group pray for a different subject on the list.
One of the greatest services to the Body of Christ and to the world is to engage in true intercession together with the Spirit of God. We pray to the Father, Through Christ, in the Spirit. Only eternity will reveal how many have swayed the destiny of nations through private and unnoticed intercession, and great reward will be bestowed upon many secret saints. Let’s be one of them!