INTERCESSORY PRAYER

Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)

Our model for intercession, is the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Biblical basis for the New Testament believer's ministry of intercessory prayer is our calling as priests unto God. The Word of God declares that we are a holy priesthood (I Peter 2:5), a royal priesthood (I Peter 2:9), and a kingdom of priests (Revelation 1:5).

The background for understanding this calling to priestly intercession is found in the Old Testament example of the Levitical priesthood. The priest's responsibility was to stand before and between. He stood before God to minister to Him with sacrifices and offerings. The priests also stood between a righteous God and sinful man bringing them together at the place of the blood sacrifice.

Hebrews 7:11-19 explains the difference between the Old and New Testament ministries of the priest. The Old Testament Levitical priesthood was passed on from generation to generation through the descendants of the tribe of Levi. "The Melchizedek priesthood" spoken of in this passage, is the "new order" of spiritual priests of whom the Lord Jesus is the High Priest. It is passed on to us through His blood and our spiritual birth as new creatures in Christ.

THE MODEL INTERCESSOR

The Bible records that God's purpose in sending Jesus was for Him to serve as an intercessor:

And He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore His arm brought salvation unto Him, and His righteousness, it sustained Him. (Isaiah 59:16)

Jesus stands before God and between Him and sinful man, just as the Old Testament priests did:

For there is one God, and one mediator (intercessor) between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. (I Timothy 2:5)

...It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. (Romans 8:34)

Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)

Jesus brings sinful man and a righteous God together at the place of the blood sacrifice for sin. No longer is the blood of animals necessary as it was in the Old Testament. We can now approach God on the basis of the blood of Jesus which was shed on the cross of Calvary for the remission of sins. Because of the blood of Jesus, you can approach God boldly without timidity (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Jesus was an intercessor while He was here on earth. He prayed for those who were sick and possessed by demons. He prayed for His disciples. He even prayed for you when He interceded for all those who would believe on Him. Jesus continued His ministry of intercession after His death and resurrection when He returned to Heaven. He now serves as our intercessor in Heaven.

HOW TO INTERCEDE

As intercessors following the Old Testament priestly function and the New Testament pattern of Jesus, we stand before God and between a righteous God and sinful man. In order to be effective standing "between" we must first stand "before" God to develop the intimacy necessary to fulfill this role.

Numbers 14 is one of the greatest accounts of intercessory prayer recorded in the Bible. Moses was able to stand between God and sinful man because he had stood "before" Him and had developed intimacy. Numbers 12:8 records that God spoke with Moses as friend to friend and not through visions and dreams as He did with other prophets.

As New Testament believers we no longer sacrifice animals as in Old Testament times. We stand before the Lord to offer up spiritual sacrifices of praise (Hebrews 13:5) and the sacrifice of our own lives (Romans 12:1). It is on the basis of this intimate relationship with God that we can then stand "between" Him and others, serving as an advocate and intercessor in their behalf.

Peter uses two words to describe this priestly ministry: "Holy" and "royal." Holiness is required to stand before the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). We are able to do it only on the basis of the righteousness of Christ not our own righteousness. Royalty is descriptive of the kingly authority which is delegated to us as members of the "royal family," so to speak, with legitimate access to the throne room of God.

Sometimes this priestly intercession is done with understanding. This occurs when you intercede for others in your own native language and you understand what you are saying:

I exhort therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men. For kings, and for all that are in authority... (I Timothy 2:1-2)

At other times, intercession is made by the Holy Spirit. It may be with groanings resulting from a heavy spiritual burden. It may also be in an unknown tongue. When this happens, the Holy Spirit speaks through you praying directly to God according to the will of God:

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)

For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. (I Corinthians 14:2)

You do not understand this type of intercession with your mind, but it is the deepest level of intercessory prayer and the most effective because it is made "according to the will of God."

Your mind and will do not affect the prayers prayed by the Holy Spirit through you in an unknown tongue.

WHY INTERCESSION IS IMPORTANT

Intercession is obviously important because of the emphasis Jesus placed on it in His own earthly ministry. Its importance is also revealed in the Biblical record which is filled with the stories of men and women who experienced powerful results through effective intercession.

Through effective intercession, you can go spiritually anywhere in the world. Your prayers have no limitations of distance as they can penetrate unreached nations and cross through geographical, cultural, and political barriers. You can affect the destiny of individuals and entire nations. You can actually help save lives and souls of men and women, boys and girls and extend the Gospel of the Kingdom of God around the world as you intercede in prayer.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

One of the greatest examples of intercessory prayer is the prayer of Jesus recorded in John 17.

Use the following outline to study this prayer:

Jesus prays for Himself: John 17:1-5

Summarize His requests for Himself:

Jesus prays for His immediate disciples: John 17:6-19

Summarize His requests for His immediate disciples:

Jesus prays for His future disciples: John 17:20-23

List the specific requests Jesus makes for His future disciples:

Jesus concludes His prayer: John 17:24-26

Summarize how Jesus concludes His prayer:

What is His specific desire?

What did He declare to His followers?

What does He want to be "in them"?