I’ve left the most complex subject for last. I’m timid about defining intercession for three reasons: a) people I respect disagree with my definition, b) hundreds of thousands of intercessors have gone before me and must know much more than I, and c) because there is so much to be said. But the rule is that I speak from my own experience, so here is my humble definition.
What is it?
The simplest definition is this: intercession is praying for others. (The dictionary definition of intercession is “the action of intervening on the behalf of another.”) I like to tag on to that definition that it is taking a position between God and man — partnering with God’s heart for anything outside of yourself and asking Him to bring His purposes to pass.
I can’t move on from “what is it?” without addressing why I think the intercessors are the most burnt-out part of the Church. We must have a foundation of who God is and who we are before Him before we begin to seriously intercede. If we do not, we begin to strive and look to man for validation of what we are doing. I wrote about my experience of finding my identity before God in prayer in my series on enjoyable prayer (which can be found here, here, and here).
“Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7
God has things He will or won’t do based upon our intercession (Jer. 5:1). We see several times in the Bible that God changes His mind as a direct result of someone praying. My favorite example is Moses:
“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘I have seen [Israel] and indeed it is a stiff-necked people!”
Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation.’
Then Moses pleaded with the Lord his God and said, ‘Lord, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?
Why should the Egyptians speak and say, ‘He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your fierce wrath and relent from this harm to Your people.
‘Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.”
So the Lord relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.” Exodus 32:9-14
God has given us an unprecedented dignity in our prayers: even to the point of changing His mind.
In my next post, I’ll cover some practical ways to intercede, as well as some encouragement of the fruit of intercession that I have seen in my own life.
This post is a part of a series on different types of prayer. Click here to read the rest of the series.