There was a crisis with my children and I was a long way from home.
And I had no one on hand to pray with me.
This was ironic. At the time, I was serving on the staff of an evangelical conference for over 1600 kids roughly the same age as my own children. Even so, there was only one person I felt free to ask to pray with me. She smiled compassionately and said she would pray for me. I suppose she did — I don’t really know because I didn’t hear her. But I desperately needed someone to pray for me.
Fortunately, I belong to an Internet loop of women who not only will pray for me, but also email to me their prayers on my behalf. I cherish these women and my faith is bolstered from their prayers.
Sometimes, when the pain is very deep, you need someone to do your praying for you. The Bible has a name for these people: intercessors.
Warriors in Heavenly Places
Intercessors are a rare breed of spiritual warriors who set aside their own needs on behalf of others and strap on holy armor to do battle with evil forces in the heavenlies. These people are near to the heart of God because they lay down their lives for their friends. In a way, you might call them living martyrs.
Strategic planning, talent and training are fine and good, but spiritual battles are won or lost based on intercessory prayer. Ministry advances — or retreats — based on it.
Moses learned this. As the Amelekite army was confronted, Moses stood on top of a hill overlooking the battle holding the staff of God. The Israelites gained ground when he held up the staff: they lost ground when Moses’ arms grew weary and set it down. Finally, Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ arms until the war was decisively won. (Exodus 17)
What did Moses, his fellow intercessors, and the Israelite soldiers learn from this? What should we know for our personal and ministry battles?
•The army of God moves forward on its knees. Hold up the staff of God and advance.
•The Lord is our banner or war flag.
•Fight spiritual battles any other way and you will ultimately lose ground.
Here’s what you need to know to be an intercessor and to form an intercessory team around you and the ministry God has called you to:
Intercession is a sacrificial gift of self. Intercessors become spiritually one with those for which they pray, so generally speaking, if you intercede in person, women should intercede for women, etc.
•True intercessors sign on for the duration of the battle. They continue to pray until the battle is finished and God — not you — is victorious.
•Intercessors pray from knowledge. It is important that intercessors pray for specific needs as well as general needs.
•Intercession is work. The disciples slept through their big intercessory moment in Gethsemane. You’ll be tempted by the demands of your flesh, too.
•Intercessors will go through a transforming process. The Holy Spirit thoroughly cleans intercessors. After purifying, He blesses them with depths of knowledge and understanding of Him that is beyond the norm.
•Ask God to lead an Aaron and Hur to you. Don’t feel you need thousands of “prayer partners.” That would be wonderful, but what you really need are a few who take intercession seriously.
•As the Lord builds trust, be vulnerable and admit when you are weary and your arms need to be held up.
•Intercession is a mutual spiritual responsibility. If God sends you intercessors, be prepared to hold up their arms too.
Rebekah Montgomery, Editor, Right to the Heart