Intercessory Prayer

Sparrow-2015-Sparrow-2015-EDITED-0010-e1453479838721.jpg

In Scripture, it is said that the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf (Romans 8:26). The image of this text is one of my most cherished analogies found in God’s word. Jesus acts as an advocate for us at the Father’s right hand, but intercession means that the Holy Spirit cries within our innermost being for God’s will to be done. There is no greater privilege than the direct communication we’re given by the gracious gospel and powerful Holy Spirit.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

John 16:13-15

I know that when I lack energy, inspiration, and hope- the Holy Spirit dwells in me secure. He directs my wandering heart and mind to Truth. He stirs up the courage to pray. I can’t even muster the strength I need to share my requests, but the Spirit helps me still. This supernatural transaction of strength can only attributed to the God of all creation. He provides hope when in despair, He comforts our heart when broken, and He restores peace during uncertainty. The Holy Spirit makes a home within us, and Jesus actually told the disciples that it would be better that he leave. Still, to this day, I believe intercession is an underrated gift of the Spirit.

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

John 16:7

How can the Church better steward the gift of intercession?

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.

John 14:26-27

We must exercise and strengthen our trust in God. This comes by reading and listening to His heart. Also known as Scripture and prayer. This kind of trust is not gained overnight, but gained from a diligent pursuit of Truth. God’s word uncovers His heart for his people, and our trust in Him grows as we better understand His heart. A person who prays frequently is (most likely) a person who trusts God deeply. Reading scripture alone is too easily thwarted by legalism. We must listen, in prayer, to what the Word says about God’s heart. Who is he and what does he say about you?

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

Romans 8:14-15

We must have the courage to hope. Prayer requires an open and willing heart that declares dependence. This is the meaning of adoption. Our dependence thrusts us into hope, even if all we see is darkness. God’s people have been chosen to bear witness for God’s salvific power. It is easier to rejoice in hope when we abandon our hearts in prayer.

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

John 14:18

Prayer is tangible evidence of our adoption, as we welcome His Holy Spirit to open our eyes to His manifestation. God entrusts His children to pray and intercede, only to watch His glorious plan unfold in the life of his Church. The ministry I work for was planning a citywide prayer night and I felt impressed to pray “Calling on Fire” by Bellarive over the event. I was unsure of why or how this prayer would be received. I continued to pray it though, singing the lyrics as prayers to the only One who knew how they would soon be answered. The night before, I shared my prayer with our staff and we all joined together to ask for God to take our prayers as (figurative) incense and give generously His fire to light them aflame. The event was a beautiful gathering of intercession and praise, and afterwards I spoke with a friend of mine. (She had no idea of my long-prayed prayer.) She said to me, “I have to tell you something wonderful, I never receive visions, but I closed my eyes during worship and just saw the most beautiful rings of God’s fire around this sanctuary. He lit this place on fire with His presence!”

Finally, we must love the body of Christ, as a whole. Spurgeon eloquently says, “I think you will see that, like links in a chain, these different truths draw each other on—the spirit of adoption proves the fact of adoption; by the act of adoption we are children; if children then heirs; if heirs, heirs of God; but since there is another heir, we must therefore be joint heirs with Christ Jesus.”

It’s not just the Spirit’s job to intercede, but a shared responsibility with the people of God. When acting as a body, we can lift our brothers and sisters up with the strength they don’t have themselves. Your strength can overflow and strengthen someone else, your faithful trust can steady someone, and your abounding hope has the same spirit- filled power to catalyze change. If we are called to act in compassion, then I believe we should pray with compassion. I urge people to not only pray passively for people, but passionately pray with people. Let your Spirit strengthen your brother and sisters, reminding them of their adoption.