Few people would contest the notion that the most common form of prayer is that of intercession. Most prayers we hear in public as well as the prayers we ask others to lift to Heaven primarily ask God to intervene in human affairs. Whether we ask Him to heal someone who is ill or intervene in the course of contemporary events or comfort people in sorrow, we spend tremendous time and energy asking God to personally step in to bring relief and hope to persons in need.
Intercessory prayer is a vital part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. All we need to do is look to His example in John 17 as He asks the Father to guide, energize, and keep His disciples through the centuries to know that we are to intercede for others. The Bible is filled with examples of other such prayers. Moses intercedes on behalf of Israel(Numbers 14:11-20). Samuel dedicated himself to intercessory prayer for the people of Israel (1 Samuel 12:22-23) noting that it is a sin against God not to pray for others. Paul regularly sought God to intervene on behalf of His church.
Intercessory prayer is not only a privilege, but a responsibility of the faithful, obedient child of God. How we view our part in intercession makes a difference in both the manner in which God receives our request and the effective result of prayer itself. We ought to examine our approach to Heaven’s Throne when seeking God’s intervention in the lives of others.
How often do we approach God as if we are a dispatcher for a tow truck company? A car is broken down along the road and needs help. The dispatcher understands that someone needs assistance, so he sends the tow truck driver out to meet the need. The dispatcher knows the need is real. He knows a stranded motorist is in danger along the highway and cannot get to his destination unless help arrives. The dispatcher sends the driver out to do the necessary work to meet the need. However, there is a serious problem with this mindset when it comes to intercessory prayer. The dispatcher is in charge. He not only informs the tow truck operator of the situation, he tells the driver where to go and what to do. As Christians, much less as human beings, we are on dangerous ground when we assume the attitude of telling God where to go and what to do. I doubt that we conciously take on the mantle of dispatcher, but how often does our unnoticed attitude mirror the mind of a dispatcher?
Let me suggest a more appropriate mindset. That of a live electric wire*. This wire is connected to the power source and the place in need of power. Biblical intercessory prayer comes from the connection we have with God and with people in need. It may be that our connection is personal. We know the person in need through relationship. We see their pain, their struggle, their heartache, their need of God’s intervention. It may be that our connection is a God-given compassion for persons, people, or circumstances removed from our lives, yet God has triggered our hearts with a burden to be personally involved through the mystery of prayer. In either case, because of our personal connection with God, we have a conviction from Heaven to use the gift of intercessory prayer to connect with people who need to know the glory of God through His work in their lives.
Before we begin to pray for someone we ought to examine our mindset. Do we have the attitude of a dispatcher, pointing God to the road He needs to travel? Are we giving God directions? Or do we have the heart of Christ that connects us to the need through His Spirit’s quickening of our soul? The dispatcher role is the mindset of man. The live wire is mind of Christ. “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).
* I ran across this metaphor in a quote from Dallas Willard’s book,”Hearing God.” Willard quotes Hannah Hurnard, “An Intercessor means one who is in such vital contact with God and with His fellow men that he is like a live wire closing the gap between the saving power of God and the sinful men who have been cut off from that power (p.147).
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