Strange Noises: Let’s Talk About Intercession

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Intercession is one of those mysterious “church words” that the Church should reclaim. One of those terms that kids raised in Christian homes grow up to laugh about. It’s funny because we usually have stories of a friend turning to us after leaving our moms withdads and saying, “She’ll be doing what for us?”

But isn’t it actually a critical part of the Gospel and if so, shouldn’t we muster the tact to also speak seriously about it? I do believe we’ve lost the importance of intercession, or at the very least, distorted it by cutting it so short of its rich and full Biblical portrayal. These strange things need some unpacking. So what do we do with such words?

So many times now, the suggested evangelistically appropriate thing to do is replace these words with other words and phrases more approachable for an “outsider“. While I agree that the clutter needs to be cleared and that some religious lingo is worthless; I also strongly agree that a radically different people won’t mind having a radically different language, one of love. It’s obvious newcomers don’t know these terms, we have to teach them; that’s one of our major purposes.

We don’t just gather men; we gather men-gatherers.

If we lovingly teach our friends and family how the Bible explains and defines salvation, sanctification, justification, stronghold, spiritual warfare, intercession, and so on, we won’t have to embarrassingly laugh them off as passe nor block out any “not yet believers”.

We must hold conversations which usually means we also must hold relationships. We have to be a long haul people.

Therefore in my attempt to help reclaim intercession. I must first be transformed by God and His Word. It must be reclaimed in me. And I must be reformed around it.

My views on intercession have been shaped and reshaped by scripture, as all of our thinking should be. However, we cannot ignore the great significance that experience plays into our ways of thinking. We have to hold all of our conceptions alongside the Bible and throw them up to the Father in prayer so that all the worthless chaff blows away.

I’m increasingly realizing that my upbringing in the home was far greater discipleship and spiritual formation for me than any of my church experiences and relationships. My parents stuck so closely to prayer and the Bible that we siblings all know now where to hang our hats. This is not just a testimony to my parents’ faithfulness, but a bleak accusation of the church. I’d like to do my part to help mend that gap in the church.

Many times our selfish drive to be so unique and individualistic has caused us to think that personal stories and experiences are not universal. While specifics vary, we can find so many people out there who have shared these same journeys.

Strange Sounds (refers to Romans 8:23, our key passage), though new extensions, will lead back to Family Worship. God has been calling me to repentance for my lack of intercession and especially its absence in our home.

In Romans 8, Paul lays out progressive salvation; that God’s salvation is for our past, present, and future. This will be the pattern underlying this series, how Romans 8 has been reshaping my understanding of intercession.

The three categories I’ll be covering in the next few blog posts are titled:
1. Pentecost
2. Presence
3. Parousia

What are YOUR thoughts though? The goal for me isn’t just to perform a public, autobiographical, therapeutic exercise. My aim is to get you thinking about intercession in new ways seriously, soberly. We need to engage with each other and really wrestle with this dialogue with all of ourselves, not just our minds. Most importantly, my deepest desire is to encourage you to begin or continue digging ferociously through the scriptures to discover this blessed gift we have flowing from our communion with God.

Is this all new to you? Has the word lost its flavor with you? Are you a committed intercessor? Please, let me hear from you.

11 Comments Add yours

  1. Intercession is absolutely necessary. In fact, it is a better “fruit of the spirit” than praying for yourself. Jesus calls us out of ourselves, out of our own needs, and calls us to help others. His greatest commandment to his disciples was to “love one another”. What is more loving than praying for someone who does not feel that they can pray to God for themselves? I’ve written a lot about intercessory prayer – here’s one http://wp.me/p30W5v-3E

  2. I really loved your perspective and input on intercession. I concur prayer needs more activity abroad. In fact it is our duty one to another. Thanks for sharing this https://www.facebook.com/groups/SurvivorsthruChristPrayerCloset/

  3. benleney says:

    When you say spiritual formation and discipleship took place for you at home far more than church, it’s bound to be, unless you lived in community with Christians – and that’s as it should be! It’s as it was for me, too – and as a parent now, I know I am not as faithful (but aiming to be!) as my parents were in being godly.

    I like what you’re hinting at by saying we need to be ‘long haul’ people who therefore carefully and helpfully initiate newcomers into important concepts such as ‘intercession’. There is an argument to be made that Christianity-lite is designed for churches or people who are only expecting passing-trade. If we don’t live towards new converts and visitors as if they will stay with us, they probably won’t! Thanks for post

    1. I agree with both major points you’ve brought out. I have been reading lots on the church as a house from Puritans like Matthew Henry (great sermon BTW!) And others. As a new father and still relatively new husband I want this fresh on my mind and fresh in our practice. I want this time to be the highlight of our days and night, family worship.

  4. dellanioakes says:

    So many people, even Catholics, don’t understand Intercession. I used to teach religious education at our church, and was appalled at how little the kids understood their own religion, let alone others. They didn’t even realize that there were other Christian religions, other than Catholics. Of course, a lot of their non-Catholic school mates didn’t understand the differences, or similarities, either.

    I explained Intercession like this: Did you ever get in really big trouble with your dad and ran to your mom for help? Did she take up for you and get your dad to calm down and forgive you? That’s intercession, having someone else help you when you’re in trouble and in need of prayer. I’m not sure how much of an impression it made, but I tried!

  5. I do agree that intercession is something which has been lost in many churches today; and as pastors and believers of the Gospel, we must teach our congregations the principle truths of God’s Word. It is written in the book of Hebrew that we are called God’s choosen nation, a paculiar people, a holy priesthood. We have a priestly duty to fulfill. Looking at the duties of a priest in scripture; we see that one of the main duties of a priest is to prayer; and more so that of intercessional prayers. However, one must have love within oneself to do so. The love of God in us will encourage us; and also motivate us, as well as move us to pray for others (including individuals, nations and the world at large). Although the priest of old had a duty to filfill; for the New Creation this should be more than a duty. It must become more than a second nature. With the love of God at work in us; it should be our nature to intersede for others. The love of God will move you beyond the point of looking at the wrongs of people; and situate you at a place to see people with the eyes of God – which is with love – then we will be able to pray for all people accordingly to what the Word of God speaks about mankind. Every Christian has been mandated with an evangelistic mandate – mandated to go and win souls, teaching them to observe all that we were taught. Simply put, make workers, not just followers (if one becomes a worker of the Gospel, then one is also a follower). Following must have action applied to it; otherwise, where is your believing beneficial to the Kingdom of God. Winning souls starts and continues by and through praying according to God’s Will for mankind… Inspiring, refreshing and uplifting!

    From Global Cyber Evangelsit
    Rudi Ferreira
    The Ministry of Gospel Addicts

    Stay blessed!

  6. James: I will need a few days to read your series on Intercession. I will then be able to give a more informed comment. But I do want to thank you for contacting me and asking for my opinion on what you wrote. I will gladly do that. I would also appreciate any input you might have on the topics that I am blogging about also. God bless. I will be getting back to you shortly. A servant of Jesus Christ, Sandra. (Fool’s Gold Today @ WordPress.)

  7. I enjoyed reading your discourse on intercession. Two points that I would like to make are: 1–Personally, I have attended and been a part of various denominations in my Christian faith walk (Pentecostal, Charismatic, Catholic, and Church of Christ, to name a few) and have discovered the body of Christ has a wide range of teachings and opinions in regard to the work of the Holy Spirit. At the end of the day what matters is the fruit and who gets the glory/credit. God or the person?
    2–Since my writings are international and professionally (nursing) focused, I take a more conservative stand on Christian topics that do not cause division within the body of Christ. I seek to find areas of agreement, rather than areas of division. A good example is my recent articles on spiritual warfare in a Journal of Christian Nursing (Christian Nursing 101) entitled: Chaos at Work and Stand firm in Prayer. With the devotions for Nurses Christian Fellowship International (NCFI Cares) the focus is less professional and more personally encouraging/educational. Now this doesn’t mean I don’t stand firm. I just draw my line in the sand in reference to Jesus Christ and his redemptive work on the cross. A great resource for me has been the Nicene Creed with accompanying scriptures.
    Also, if you want to get a faith education on the work of the Holy Spirit, connect with our international brothers and sisters from all denominations! There testimonies and experiences of the Lord interceding on their behalf through prayer is amazing and jolts our US faith! Blessings on your message and writings

  8. Jodee says:

    Hi James,
    I always enjoy reading your blog, this one is no exception… very well written, and we even learned a few things about you in regards to where you received your biblical education. Kudos to your parents for raising you in a Godly home and teaching you so well. I wasn’t as fortunate, so I’ve been taught in church as well as what God teaches me at home in my quiet time studies. He is a phenomenal Teacher!
    I do understand that there’s a lot of watered down gospel being taught in our churches today. Teachers and preachers that are more into drawing large crowds of people rather than preaching truth. The sad thing about that is that there are large numbers of people trusting in salvation they don’t have, and they won’t even know it until that moment trying to enter the kingdom of heaven, Jesus says, “Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'”
    After reading your perspective on Intercession, I kind of feel as if I’ve been living in a bubble of sorts. The churches I’ve been a member of, and there haven’t been many – I only change churches if I move, have all been evangelical Christian churches — straight Bible teaching and preaching doctrine, one of which is Intercessory Prayer, mentioned I know in James 5:14-16. Our church has an online prayer request form that goes into our church secretary for urgent prayer needs that come up before church meets. The classes send around Prayer Request sheets for anybody that has a need. The whole church gets copies of these requests so every member can pray over them. Then we have a Prayer Team on Sunday nights that stands in the gap for all kinds of needs worldwide as well. The Father hears the prayers of the saints. I’m reminded of Jesus going into the Temple and seeing all those people buying and selling in there. He was not happy at all — He turned over the tables and benches… “It is written,” he told them, “My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.”
    God speaks to us through His Holy Word. We speak to Him through prayer. When you add the love of Christ into the equation, intercessory prayer comes natural I suppose. 🙂
    May God continue to bless you in your calling. I look forward to reading more of your writing!
    In Christ,
    His daughter, Jodee

    1. Sounds like you’ve been a part of church who keeps first things first. Thanks so much for the comments and personal perspective; it was all very encouraging.

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