“For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf.”
Intercession is a powerful and complex word, and in some circles, it has been thrown around to mean “prayer” when in reality it is so much more. Intercession is born from grief. The Bible tells us that Jesus was a “man of sorrows acquainted with grief.” It is no surprise to me that Jesus intercedes for us in the Heavenlies to Father God above. Because Jesus endured suffering, temptation, and rejection, He can identify with His children who suffer the same. Hebrews 7:25 says, “Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.” Romans 8:34 says, “Who then is the one who condemns? No one. 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.” We have an advocate who is fighting for us. He sees our foes, our circumstances, and knows the Accuser comes to destroy. The sacrifice of Jesus made it possible for Him to stand in our place in the Heavenlies as He stood in our place on the cross. He is our justice and our salvation. Hebrews 9:24 states “For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf.”
Intercession is first born out of personal suffering.I know that as an intercessor grief was necessary for me to reach that place of complete surrender. First, it began in my own life. Instead of stewing and steaming over my circumstances I prayed, I wailed and spoke in the Spirit language. I worshipped on my knees and felt the presence of the Lord overtake me granting me peace in the turbulent storm and granting me a momentary reprieve from the waves that I was choking on. Prayer was my oxygen mask when nothing else could help. I knew where I needed to go when I was falling apart. It was exhausting, and many times it meant taking ten minutes to sing and pray when Christian was demanding undivided attention at two years old. Many times it meant holding him and praying, but the act of obedience was key. When I consider all that we as a family have endured I am both shocked and amazed at how Holy Spirit has grown us in our prayer life. I don’t know why this happens, but I used to treat prayer as something I did to ask for something. It felt benign and a last resort rather than a first defense. Perhaps, then I just didn’t understand prayer because it required being still. As a doer, I would try everything in my own strength and then when seeing the fruit of failure I turned to prayer. Looking back, I see now how I should have first been still before God asking Him for His direction, and listening for His voice. I wasn’t desperate enough in those days, but when the need was overwhelming so was my urge to pray. Seven years and countless trials and painful tribulations sharpened my prayer life and what the Enemy used for evil God turned into a powerful weapon of spiritual warfare.
As I began to grow in my prayer life, I began to have a heart for the sick and the broken. I knew what it felt like to suffer physical and emotional pain. To see someone hurting whether it be physically or emotionally broke my heart. This is the second puzzle piece to intercession I call bearing the burden. I would see a man in a wheelchair on the street, and my heart would leap out of my chest while tears sprang to my eyes, “Lord, please, show Yourself to this man, use me to show Your love and Your healing power.” If I saw a homeless person, I would minister to them. Whoever Holy Spirit led me to I would go and release prayer over the person. Sometimes it was silently at a distance and other times required me getting out of my comfort zone to deliver a Word from the Lord. Either way, bearing the burden requires obedience because we have to ignore our fleshly response to recoil in fear at what the Lord asks us to do. I began asking God for One Holy Fire so that He may use me to heal others and in turn, I would be healed. This was my desire, and it was so strong that it trumped my desire to be physically healed. My eyes were no longer on my circumstances, and while I prayed continually for my healing I became an advocate for others who were hurting, and I began praying for their healing as well. Holy Spirit would reveal information to be about an individual and tell me what to pray and so began my journey of intercession.
Intercession is like blowing balloons. It takes time to blow balloons and many times we need breaks in between exhausting the air supply in our lungs. Still, we finally get the balloon so buoyant that we can tie the string and release it. In intercession, the labor is in the prayer, the tears, and the travailing, but then comes the release. The problem is when we hold the string. I am a string holder, and in this season Holy Spirit is showing me that the burdens I carry for others must be dropped at the foot of the cross rather than carried beyond it. Unknowingly, many times after praying in the Spirit for another, crying out to God on their behalf, I pick the burden up again, carrying it throughout my day allowing it to interfere with my emotions and my daily life. Sensing and seeing what Holy Spirit shows me is a gift, but if I don’t allow Him to carry the burden, then I am unnecessarily wearing myself out. This is the word of warning to my fellow intercessors: Drop it like it’s hot. Seriously! The Bible says, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved” Psalm 55:2. While intercession allows us to bear the burden in order to pray, we are not meant to take that burden as our own. Understand that this actually goes against what the Bible says about burdens. It’s not piety to be downcast and burdened, but it is martyrdom. We are not asked to be martyrs; Jesus died so we can be free. Isaiah 58:6 says, “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?”. We know that what God uses for good, the Enemy uses for evil. Doesn’t it make perfect sense that the Enemy convinces us to pick up the burdens we bear for others and add them to our own? Imagine it like a backpack. Holy Spirit puts a few stones in there so we can carry it to the cross for another. We bear the burden, and when we come to the cross, we pray for the person or situation, shed tears for their circumstances and get up with the backpack. Shouldn’t it be lighter? If it’s not lighter, then you are not trusting God. I know it sounds harsh and I am roasting myself here too, but many times I have carried those two stones back with me. What happens when Holy Spirit gives me another burden? And another? I am not meant to carry a backpack full of stones, and neither are you. The burden we have is to PRAY and leave the stones at the cross. It is not our job to pick them back up again and carry them. We are to plead the blood of Jesus over them and let Him carry the burdens. Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” There is power in the release!
Keys to Interceding for Others
1.Ask God who He wants you to pray for- many times we will already have a burden to pray for someone but if not, ask Him and let His Spirit guide you.
2.Avoid seeking too much information- You don’t need a person’s life story in order to pray for them. Holy Spirit will reveal what is meant for you to know. Many times when Holy Spirit has put someone on my heart to pray He gives me the Words. Information is not really necessary.
3. Leave the burden at the cross- Remember that the burden is to pray not to carry. Once the prayer is complete, it’s important to leave the burdens at the foot of the cross
Avoid the Guilt Trap- In the beginning, I thought I had to intercede daily, but all that did was create guilt when I couldn’t take the time to truly intercede. We are called to pray daily, but intercession is intense and can be draining. It’s important to seek God in timing and set aside that time for intercession. There are times when I am worshipping Him, and all of a sudden an urgency will come over me, and I begin to see a picture of a person that needs intercession. It is then that I begin to intercede, right in my kitchen. I guess what I am saying is Holy Spirit has no box because our God is an out of the box God. Trying to create a ritual out of something born from relationship is not healthy, and you will burn out fast.
4. Fill Your Spirit with Holy Spirit Time- When we intercede for someone we are pouring out. Because we are vessels we must be filled in order to pour out. Otherwise we are trying to get water from a dry well. It doesn’t work that way and in fact can be damaging.
Intercession is a tremendous weapon of spiritual warfare. It changes atmospheres and circumstances, and it causes breakthroughs. Anytime we have a weapon of mass destruction the enemy will try and steal it in order to use it for his purposes. We can get so busy doing that we forget what just being feels like. Let’s not ritualize something born from Holy Spirit, but let’s not trivialize it either. Intercession is a gift from God let’s treat it with the respect it deserves.
Prayer Starter: Lord, I know You have called me to intercession, and I am so blessed You have entrusted me with this weapon. I invite You, Holy Spirit, to reveal who needs prayer and when. Remind me to release the burden and leave it at the foot of the cross. I choose to be Your vessel and am saying, “Here I am, Lord”! Give me the strength to be a voice for the voiceless and to advocate for those in the Spirit. Give me Your heart filled with compassion. In Your Precious name, Amen.