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Intercession Part Two

Protecting the Walls, Part Two 

The Picture of Intercession

To help us see the work of an intercessor, let's go back to the second definition of intercession: "to send an official petition to the king or ruler."

Imagine a circular boundary line, within which is the kingdom of God. This is our territory—as followers of Jesus, we are in the kingdom of God and therefore in the circle. Within the boundary line are our rights and inheritance—everything that is ours as children of God.

Outside is the kingdom of darkness, the world controlled by Satan. We often see external attacks coming from various points outside the boundary line—efforts to overrun and to shrink the overall area of our territory.

What can be done? It is important to see that intercessory prayer establishes and maintains the boundary, keeping it from shrinking and enabling it to expand. When Satan comes to attack us within the boundary, we the sons of God should draw up and sign a prayer of complaint, and then send this petition directly to Jesus Christ, who is the King of kings and Lord of lords. Jesus in turn will take the complaint directly to God the Father.

In my imagination, Jesus opens the letter and reads it to the Father. I believe heaven must be quiet at moments like this as the Father hears the request.

Here is the kind of letter the Sons of God might write or pray. It does not need to be long. Just ask for the Father's intervention and articulate how your rights are being violated.

When Jesus finishes reading the letter He says, "Why, that old snake, that toothless roaring lion. Father..."
They do not even talk it over. The Father says, "Get him!"

Immediately a host of heaven is sent to come against that point of encroachment and to re-establish the boundary. A standard is put up at the gate that says:
Satan, don't you put one grimy fingerprint on this gate again, and in fact, for our trouble we are going to take 500 feet of your property.
Signed, GOD.

That is intercession with a little imagination thrown in. Without my colorful imagination, let's consider how intercession impacts our everyday lives.

It is obvious that we have an enemy who seeks to destroy us; we are warned a lot about the "schemes of Satan" in Scripture—Eph. 6:11. Paul also stated, "We are not unaware of his schemes." This is not an easy task, because sometimes Satan operates in the open—1 Pet. 5:8, and at other times he camouflages himself as an angel of light—2 Cor. 11:14. That is why the Scripture encourages us not to minimize his power and program.

We must not, however, forget our resources and standing. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit—Eph. 4:30. We are safe in the Fathers hands—John 10:28-29. We don't have to let Satan cross the boundary line to destroy our defenses and leave us defeated—James 4:7; Matt. 4:10. When we find Satan attacking our territory, trying to cause us havoc and pressuring us, we should send up an official petition. This is not begging: "Oh, God...do something, won't You please...?" It is our right to send a petition, because we are not just residents but children of the King.

Some might ask, doesn't God know what is going on? Can't He see the problems we have? Sure, but God has given us the boundaries of His Kingdom to tend, and whenever He gives responsibility, He gives authority. We are set in a safe place, and through intercession, we are given the responsibility to maintain it—Eph. 6:10-13, 18-19.

—Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11] Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12] For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13] Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

In other words, God says: Here is your boundary. If the enemy bothers you, let me know. Paul affirms our responsibility by concluding this section with 6:18. "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." We have the responsibility to intercede, to pray in the time of need. (See also Eph. 6:19.)

If we fail to send a petition up, our arsenal will be incomplete and the devil will continue to crowd us. We may also fall into the trap of the Christian fatalists, who assume everything is God's will. They accept a snake when they have asked for a fish—Matthew 7:9-11.

Two Illustrations of Intercession from Scripture

  • Nehemiah
    is a perfect example of how we should respond during an encroachment on the boundary lines. Nehemiah 4-6 is an account of vicious and unrelenting attacks in which Satan was trying to oppose the work of God any way he could. In fact, he had launched an all-out effort to stop the Jerusalem building program. Nehemiah, in charge of rebuilding the walls, could have undertaken this project anywhere else in the Persian empire and not had this kind of opposition. Jerusalem, however, was and is at the center of God's earthly purposes, so Satan tried to oppose what God purposed to do.

    In chapters 4-6 Nehemiah intercedes many times—4:4-5,9; 5:13; 6:9,14. Instead of giving in to all the attacks and threats, we hear him interceding for his people and the walls around the city. (He also responds with persistent action, but for our purposes in this study, we just want to see his prayer.) Note he sends an intercession—a petition to the King of kings with a complaint against an enemy's encroachment. Neh. 6:9—"...I prayed, 'Now strengthen my hands.'"

     

  • Israel
    The second illustration of this need for intercession is in Isaiah 59:16 and Ezekiel 22:30. The Lord is looking out at His people and sees Israel being overrun by wickedness, chaos, and destruction. Isaiah 59:16—"He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene (intercede, NAS)."

    Ezekiel 22:30—"I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none." Tragically, no one had sent a petition. No one cared about the destruction that was going on. If they had only prayed, they would have been helped. The result is, God moves in wrath and destruction because there is no intercessor. (Also, Christ ultimately fills the gap.)

     

With these illustrations in mind, let's apply this teaching to the modern Church. This is a time of amazing growth in ministry, and an inevitable fact of growth and expansion is that we not only expand our strengths, but also our weaknesses. Though we gain in influence, then, we also gain in vulnerability. There are more possibilities for the boundary to be weakened on the basis of exposure alone. What is the answer?

Be a Wall Watcher

Nehemiah 3-4 tells us that Nehemiah put people in charge of a section of the wall closest to their homes. Then when the enemy came, they would be more concerned because their homes were in jeopardy. It is imperative we lay hold of the ministry of intercession, and that we understand the rights and boundaries God has set for our church. Then from wherever we are stationed, we are to see that that portion of the church wall closest to us is protected by intercession.

As official representatives of the Kingdom of God, each of us has a perspective no one else may have. We can't rely only on the pastors or the board, because they can't possibly be aware of all we see! At the moment we find the enemy making inroads, we have the official capacity to petition heaven for the necessary help.

There are other implications, too. When a promise of God is going unrealized in our lives, there has been an encroachment on our territory. The child of God has 3,000+ promises, the "boundary markers" of God's will for his life.

How will you respond to the need for protecting the Church's walls? Many of us are not using the instrument of intercession as we know we should. The Lord is calling us to make our priorities right.

I Tim. 2:1—I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone...

Will you agree to intercede? Will you protect the walls closest to you? Will you join with others to make sure all the church walls are protected? Will you become an intercessor?

Write down the names of people for whom you will intercede in the space provided in the prayer journal. These names should include the following:

  1. "everyone..." All the people you know, especially those closest to you. That includes the needs you see in your church.
  2. "kings..." (or governments—local and national, e.g., United States President)
  3. "all those in authority..." wherever and whoever, e.g., church, school, government, etc.

A few years ago one of our associate pastors and I had lunch with our missionary from Sri Lanka. She told us that while the living conditions of many of the poor were desperate, it is common in Sri Lanka for non-Christians to call or go to a Christian neighbor's home during their personal crises. They have no solutions to their problems, but they know Christians will pray for them. Because of these visits with believers and subsequent answers to prayer, needy people come to know the Lord. They discover Christians are watching the wall, or standing in the gap, and God is answering their prayers.

Wouldn't it be great if people in our neighborhoods came to us for prayer during a crisis and saw answers to their prayers? If they did, the news would spread quickly: "If you're in trouble, go to one of those folks who are a part of that church on the south side. They're not weird, they're just normal people. They will just say, 'let's pray about it.' You ought to see their lives. They have so much love. The majority of them are not rich, but there is such peace in their homes. When you talk to them you just feel good. When they pray it is just awesome what happens."

How wonderful if, to God's glory and His alone, our reputation was: "If you need an answer to prayer; if you're in over your head; if things are not going well, just call one of those Hillcresters." That is what I pray for our church. We have a section of the wall, and it extends to all the areas of our potential influence. You and I need to take our responsibility to intercede seriously. We need to be vigilant in our prayers by sending up a petition of complaint to the King of kings concerning any encroachment of the enemy on our walls of influence.