Specific Characteristics As Definitive
The second intercession myth leaked out a little towards the end of the last post. This myth really only deals with our handling and classification of intercessory prayer. In short, it is the misunderstanding that specific characteristics of prayers are conclusively labeled as intercessory prayers. We are dealing only with those things that can be measured outwardly.
Sounds: Loud, Long, Late, Lucid
I had equated this word intercession with a personality type (myth #3?). Funny enough, I specifically linked it to my mother, mother-in-law, and a few others but most of them are women. However, it was not their personalities that lumped them together in my mind. It was their similar love for prayer and how they expressed that in their prayers. In other words, it was more about how they said what they said than what they actually said.
These women have hearts for God and consequently mouths and minds for prayer. They gather often with others for the sole purpose of united prayer. They also both individually have left a legacy of that same vehement prayer attack in everyday, personal life with the next generation. What is it that makes them stick to the forefront of one’s mind?
I can tell you about a lifelong experience of waking up to my mother’s loud prayers. Hanna, my wife, can as well. These women cultivated prayer habits that dominated their worldview. When an ambulance goes by, they lift up everyone involved. When a visitor comes calling, they often leave with the laying on of hands and prayer (if they’re sick, they might warrant anointing oil). As you can see, my mom and dad were very different in their praying. Nevertheless, they’ve ALWAYS been united without doubt!
These women can recount stories of waking up all through the night to pray for specific people or circumstances. I’m actually experiencing this a little myself now and over the past few years. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t a regular thing; but it has happened many times now. Often times, we don’t know specifics but we find out later that there was usually some special concern at that exact time frame in which we were shaken from our sleep. But focusing on these stories over time can give us an appetite for the mysterious and mystical. The groans of Romans 8, in contrast, sound deeply guttural, painful, longing, even giving a black and white patience, under dark clouds feel.
In this interview, Mark Driscoll speaks about Joel Virgo’s testimony of his dad, Terry Virgo and his praying (starting at 6:10). The entire video interview is worth watching but this portion was the perfect recollection for our family, only with our mother at the center. The impact it made on him is the same it made on me. When I heard this, it was the perfect description of my outlook of having grown up around this animated, genuine, sometimes loud praying.
Silence: Sight-Reading Shifting Sheets
Why doesn’t a propensity and zeal for prayer equal intercessory prayer? Why doesn’t volume determine this? Why don’t length of prayers or frequency of utterance define intercessory prayer? The answer is actually pretty simple. It’s about the content, all about the content.
So each one of those descriptions and all those types of stories can all be prayers of Intercession but it doesn’t mean that they necessarily are. This seems so simple; and really it is. But we forget that we tend to let the Enemy use our numbing familiarity to his advantage.
If we remain unclear on a topic, especially something as vital as Spiritual Warfare or Intercession, then we remain inactive. If we idly stand by on the sideline, figuring this out, “That is surely not for us since we are surely not (like) them“; the devil has no use to waste artillery on you. And yes, there is a devil and demons. Those realities make you warmly aware and alert not crazy and out of touch.
I semi-dismissed this sort of display from an early age. I appreciated growing in this atmosphere and didn’t find it wrong in anyway but I eventually, in retrospect, found that my introspection was wrongly tying a personality type or a few types to a kind of prayer request, almost like a religious stereotype.
I was so sucked into this personalized idea of Christianity, which doesn’t at all fit in with the pictures in the Bible, that I hadn’t seen just how selfish my prayers were. I hadn’t taken the time to evaluate my own petitions or my growth in listening and obedience. Even worse so, I hadn’t taken the time to dig through all these experiences to see what was behind the passion and timbre. I hadn’t become a student of my own history and so would’ve been due to repeat it, if not for grace.
Symphony: Every One with Everyone
As I seek more and more to become a disciple of Jesus; I am moved to pray for others. But then, there’s all this subcultural baggage with a word I knew for that description. I theoretically understood that Intercession meant praying for others, on others’ behalf, like mediation. But because of all these misconceptions I failed to understand it biblically and therefore failed to engage in it. I was so sure that praying for others (for salvation and/or healing) would be less and less about ourselves and therefore less and less about these actions, postures, noises, times, and so on.
Then I opened my eyes to my neighbors, my co-workers, my own family that my eyes filled with tears. You cannot remain emotionless and consider a doctrine like that of the depravity of man and its realities all around. You cannot read Isaiah 6, Ezekiel’s vision, Stephen’s martyrdom, John’s Revelation, all of the Psalms, and after having been completely overwhelmed the Holiness and Glory of God, not at once yearn daily to see Him by carrying His presence to all nations, to every tribe, and tongue to the end of time.
When you are consumed with passion for God’s glory, the explosion of your mind ignites a rapid wildfire in your heart and puts your hands to the plow. I grow more and more in love with idea of praying intelligently when I learn more and more about God and His passions. My prayer is that we all do.