In these turbulent times, something has been weighing heavily on my heart recently, and I am writing to you, my dear friend, to share with you what this great concern is. I believe a danger has arisen in the Body of Christ, and I want to ask and encourage you to join me in responding to this danger with faith-filled action.
I believe the Lord has directed me to encourage you that He is seeking to awaken His children with great urgency and intensity to a call that is fundamental to the life and ministry of every believer.
He is calling us back to the ministry of intercession.
Over the past several decades, many good-hearted believers have drifted away from this ministry. Many may not even be aware of this drifting, but from my vantage point, the change is glaring.
When I first entered into the ministry, intercessory prayer was intricately woven into the fabric of the church. The congregation at The Church on the Way and many other churches were very “into it,” as we might have said back in the day. This was not because intercession was particularly hip or popular back then, but because intercession was considered to be so vital and foundational to the Christian life.
Sadly, however, interceding congregations have become somewhat scarce these days, and actively praying churches in our nation have declined. Although there are believers that still know a good deal about intercession and engage in intercessory prayer, multitudes of Christians know next to nothing about intercession and haven’t the slightest idea about how to engage in intercessory prayer. And some believers that were faithful intercessors in the past have drifted away from this important practice.
I certainly don’t mean to be melodramatic or over-labor my concern, but the unvarnished truth is that neglecting the ministry of intercession has taken a great toll, not only on the church, but on our families, communities, and the entire world.
There is evidence of this all around us. World economies are struggling. Nations are in turmoil, and there are governmental problems too numerous to mention. There is a disregard for Biblical values in our culture, and a major absence of the fear of the Lord.
As believers, we are—and should be—disappointed and frustrated by these conditions. Many believers are even quick to voice their dismay and call for change. While we should not neglect political action, or getting out to vote, or speaking out against moral depravity in our culture, we must realize that the answer to our world’s condition will not be remedied by these actions alone for our battle is not solely against flesh and blood.
The spiritual reality is that politics, politicians, and negative cultural influences are not the source of the issues the world is facing today.
The root of our problems is the lack of prayerful intercession in the church! Our world is spiritually and morally sick because many believers are either unaware of God’s call to intercede, or they don’t understand how to go about answering this call.
Please hear this, Loved One, voting and being active in government are important, but they are simply not enough. No amount of human energy or enterprise can save this world or change the course of history.
The only thing that will save us is prayer.
Some might consider this bad news, but it’s actually not. The future of our world and the course of history may be seriously off-course, but they are not unsalvageable. If the Lord’s Redeemed will rise up and be the Church that God intends for us to be, then everything can be turned around. When believers reawaken to their responsibility to intercede, we will find that God’s Word still stands just as in Solomon’s day, we will see the fulfillment of His promise that:
If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chron. 7:14-15 NIV)
Of course, many may feel the problems we face are so massive that they don’t know what to pray or even where to start.
The starting point may surprise you. We must start with forgiveness. This is because forgiveness is the foundation of effective intercession.
Now, you may be wondering how forgiveness is the starting point for intercession. The reason is that intercession is about standing in the gap on behalf of someone else. To intercede for someone is to do for them, through prayer, what Jesus did for us. Jesus is the ultimate Intercessor, and He stood before God on our behalf when we were too unworthy and sinful to stand before God on our own. “He bore the sin of many and made intercession for them all.” (Is. 53:12)
As believers, we’re called to follow Jesus’ example and go to our Father in prayer for those who cannot or will not go to Him themselves. This is very important, my dear friend, because we can’t engage in intercessory prayer if we have anger and irritation in our hearts.
We can’t intercede for people that we feel angry towards. That is why our intercession must begin as Jesus’ did on the cross when He cried out, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do!” (Lk. 23:24, KJV).
This cry is not often heard in churches these days. The church has become better practiced in political and cultural judgmentalism and being critical of other’s failings than in being the first to forgive and reach out in love. This is a key reason that intercession has been crippled—and even neglected—in many churches.
The great news is that you and I can help turn the tide!
We can ask our loving Father to forgive everyone in our society, including the sinful and broken people around us. Instead of calling forth for fiery condemnation, we can humbly acknowledge that what is happening in the world is not worthy of its Creator. While these things merit judgment, we can seek the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness, and we can ask Him to breathe His redemptive grace and restoring power into the broken and depraved places in our world.
You may be wondering if such simple prayers can really make a difference? The answer is, absolutely! You are an anointed child of the Most High God, even a brief prayer uttered from your lips can change things.
If you ever feel overwhelmed about what to pray for or how to start interceding, be comforted that the Holy Spirit has been given to you and me to help us pray beyond ourselves and our own abilities. As Romans 8:26 says, “The Spirit… helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
Imagine a child trying to put together a very complicated puzzle. Then, imagine a loving father guiding the child’s hand and helping them put each piece in the right place. That’s exactly how the Holy Spirit helps us. As we submit to Him in intercession, He helps and guides us. The Holy Spirit comes along side us and gives us spiritual words and power-filled prayers that are beyond our natural comprehension, and this helps us pray exactly the right thing.
Loved One, I have so much more I want to teach you about intercession, but I would risk making this letter much too lengthy. In the PS below, I direct you to some teachings that I believe will bless you and help you to intercede in a more powerful and Spirit-led way.
Our world is not beyond repair. It can be saved! We must fulfill the part that God has for us in doing this, though. As God’s children, we can help bring His blessings into people’s lives and our world. Won’t you join me in doing this? Let’s change history by rising up and being the interceding Church that God created and intends for us to be.
P.S. Be sure to read the enclosed page and find out how to receive the special resources that have been prepared to equip you to fulfill God’s call to intercessory prayer. These messages and the book will help you understand the power and purpose of intercession and how to live out this important ministry in your life.