Intercession is different from Prayers, supplication and giving thanks: “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;” 1 Timothy 2:1. There is a place for praying our own thoughts and desires, but how much more powerful will our prayers be when we seek and pray the heart of God in intercession with the mind of the Spirit?
Intercession is what Jesus does night and day before the throne of God for us! “Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” Romans 8:34.“And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” Romans 8:27. Intercession must be respected as a work of Christ in us, “knowing the mind of the Spirit”. — He does it, not us! It is not something we can just “do”. Intercession, then, is like the prophetic.
The Spirit Makes Intercession In Us
Sometimes we do not know what we should even pray; the Spirit must make intercession in us! “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Romans 8:26.
I learned this during my first intercession experience for John Dawson in the Texas desert. When I was a young man I went on a YWAM outreach into Mexico with John Dawson and a large team of YWAMers. While driving the bus we were travelling in through customs at the border, John damaged the customs booth. In Mexico it’s a federal crime to damage government property. They threw him in prison!
While John was in prison the whole team camped on the border in the middle of the desert. The next day, and many days after, the whole camp was shut down in grief, and in prayer for John. At one point I felt a profound heaviness and followed it out into the desert to pray. When I got out into the wide stretches of Texas desert I raised my eyes up to the storm clouds far off on the horizon, and began to cry out to God for John’s safety. The strong intercession hit me so hard that I fell down on my knees in the sand and wept. I was caught up in the heart of prayer, and began seeing frightening things — I saw terrifying faces leering into mine, I saw a pit crawling with men who were fighting over bunks built around the walls, I saw acts of cruelty and acts of kindness in a place that I could only describe as hellish.
When I began to come out of prayer I was looking up into the sunset, and I realized that I had prayed and cried and wept for hours. Stumbling back to camp, I was met by one of the leaders. Describing my experience to him, he explained that I had been in intercession: a most powerful form of prayer where we feel what God feels, see what God sees, and in that depth of prayer we are able to actually, spiritually carry some of the burden of another.
Since then I have had many such prayer experiences, with and without visions, or images. Sometimes you just have to cry out! Romans 8:26.
So this is what I’ve learned about intercession over the years:
Intercession is actually “standing between” the throne of God and someone or some situation.
It is a holy, spiritual work where we are given the privilege of actually helping to carry another’s burden.
It’s very like the prophetic: it comes from the heart of God, and God does it through us – we can’t do it in or of ourselves or from our own mind.
How Then, Do We Intercede?
So how can we do it? We MUST rely on the Holy Spirit to teach us to pray what we ought, if we want to enter the place of intercession. This is especially important in the house of prayer. We are free to pray our own thoughts and desires, but how much more powerful will our prayers be when we seek and pray the heart of God in intercession through the Spirit?
We must go to the place where God speaks to us to receive intercession – in this, all of the points about cultivating the prophetic apply.
We need each other! I hear only a part… you hear only a part… we need to put together all the parts of what God is saying, through each of us in order to begin to see the whole.
Some Finishing Thoughts
Say or pray only what you get – don’t add stuff from your own mind.
Say it or pray it just the way you get it.
Sometimes don’t say anything… just cry out!
I hope you can see that intercession is a particular kind of prayer, a kind that must be respected as a work of Christ in us, “knowing the mind of the Spirit”. I hope that you can also see that He does it, not us!
But we can cultivate a heart of intercession by making ourselves available to God, and being willing to respond to His big heart for people and for the world. Go to a place where it’s just you and God. Open your heart and begin to cry out to Him. Be willing to move with whatever He may do inside of you in prayer. You may be silent, you may cry out without words, you may understand your prayers perfectly… but just lift your heart before God, and He will fill it. He will answer. When God moves on your heart and you are praying by the Spirit’s leading… That’s intercession!