Pentecost: Myths About Intercession (Part 3)

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You’re about to read real words heard in rabbit trails from Sunday sermons. These may appear to be a caricature due to their extreme nature. Nevertheless, they are typical of my past experiences.

We’d hear something like, “They’ve got the gift of prayer, of intercessory prayer. I can’t pray like them but thank God for people like (fill in the blank). I mean, they can pray for hours and hours. I got the gift of evangelism (although they’d usually say teaching). Even I need them. And just like they need me; they need you too!”

Set Aside for Specialized Sects of Saints

This myth is actually a fallacy that clings to most of the discussions about the gifts of the Spirit. I will avoid the discussion of whether or not Intercession is itself a gift imparted upon one at their Baptism in the Spirit.

The question at hand is whether certain personality types or supernaturally gifted people are set apart within the body of Christ to support all the members in this ministry. These people, in many circles, are called warriors – prayer warriors.

Some circles just call them Intercessors. This is fine and well as long as it is not a distinction. We can’t make it a club!  Otherwise, it becomes a specialized, fine art that only the “Holy” can possess.

Sounds: Illumined Laypeople and Lazy Clergy

At the risk of sounding bitter; I’m intentionally placing (some of the) blame. Teachers/ Preachers have a weighty responsibility to teach the full council of God. That’s why James says that not many of us should want to become teachers. We incur a stricter punishment. (James 3:1)

So where do these claims come from? These irrelevant excursions are actually due to inattentiveness to transcripts, even outlines, a lack of notes altogether. They reveal an absence of practice, invested time, work, discipline, study and reverence.

All of this is most often guised as authenticity. Humans will get distracted. Ministers are mere humans. But we must safeguard, all of us!

These statements most often have nothing to do with the topic or text at hand. They actually say much more about the ministers than the singled out congregants. This deals not only with how we handle the Word but how we deal with each other.

There is a big difference between words of affirmation and encouragement and outright misplaced, wrong teaching. But what’s so wrong?

Silence: Persistently, Perceptive Parents

The separation and exaltation of people can only be done by God, all else will ultimately fail, especially within the church. This pride is us waging war against God. We can puff up others and often do. This isn’t only a pulpit problem!

This isn’t biblical encouragement. We must seek to be Spirit led in all of life. We must submit all of our speech to the Lordship of Jesus. See, these people were highlighted in the pulpit at random times, not as encouragement or affirmation but as simple (wo-)man praise. The right intention is lacking altogether here. This was an excuse giving tangent.

There are more reasons why this myth exists. There are glaring personal reasons that come from within. This is one that’s both preventable and obvious. That is why I’ve chosen to pick it apart.

But we should seek to kill it from all sides. We must be diligent in this for ourselves and others. This is part of the 3 opponents that attack in spiritual warfare; the Enemy, the flesh, and the world. Father, help us!

Can you imagine Paul, who wrote Ephesians 4, contradicting himself this way? We are all to be used and use our gifts to build up the entire body into the fullness of Christ. So, why would this gift (assuming it is a second gifting of the Spirit) be any different?

We have this problem elsewhere too, though. Let us think rightly about all of Christianity as we talk about Intercession. Gifts are given to edify and build up. Be honest, does this kind of babble build up anyone? Or does it isolate the parts of the body leaving all of us vulnerable?

Do we sometimes take psychoanalysis and personality tests to appoint members to tasks, the ones where we don’t want to help?

We should be progressively moving together toward the end. A body on mission gets stronger in time. A body in division dies in time.

Then there is the fact that we have fruits of personality that have nothing to do with an impartation of God into our lives. Don’t get me wrong. He created us with these traits but we have either been developing our perverting them on our own, without divine assistance.

We need a new perspective on the gifts. They’re gifts freely given. They aren’t competencies. Here’s another distortion. We have the gifts of Ephesians 4 which is a set aside group of people.

They’re assigned with the task of equipping workers. Many are now teaching that since all saints are to minister, that everyone is one of these 5 gifts. This falls on the other side in error.

I was sucked into this last one, at first. The priesthood of believers needs more attention in our age. I believe that’s why this second fallacy seems so attractive. It doesn’t do us any good to read our plans into scripture though. We have to read, obey, and then join His plans.

Symphony: Solidified, Sanctified Soma

Here’s one final word on restoring Intercession to the people. Whether or not we can see this as a gift, we have to concede to scripture. We can’t remain tangled in arguments of the types of gifts.

In Romans 8 language it is. It is a gift for all who are adopted. It is a gift to us, in us, and through us. How can we not join that? Our spirits should be crying out with His!

According to the Bible, EVERYTHING is to be done in prayer!  We are all called to pray. We are all called to fight. The walk with Jesus, in Him, is a spiritual battle.

Therefore, we are all prayer warriors. There is no other kind of spiritual warrior, everything is held together in prayer, check out Ephesians, especially v18 at the end of the list of the armor of God.

Family Worship

Remember how I said my home was my most crucial discipleship environment and experience? This is where I learned what was going on, the deeper issue that hides behind this exaltation of man.

My parents have pointed this out to us for years. Unfortunately, it took a long period of time for me to listen and hear this lesson. There was a lot of public reference with these “prayer warriors” and so naturally they corrected this often.

Let us too, hearken to His Word and raise our families in His ways in all of life. Let intercession soak up our families so that it drips from everything we do, say, touch, and see!

Let us be sent ones who know who goes before them. Let us be led by the Spirit who intercedes on our behalf. Let Him use us to intercede for His other kids. What a great dad we have!

43 Comments Add yours

  1. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    THIS GUY ROCKS! i’VE HEARD MORE WORSHIP LEADERS SAY WE ECH ONLY HAVE,,,ONE…GIFT iT AIN’T IN THE BIBLE! LISTEN TO WHAT THE SPIRIT SAYS TO THE CHURCHES!!!!

  2. Let’s be clear…there are teachers, evangelists, prophets, etc. But no one–in Scripture–is allowed to stop praying! Peter tells the WHOLE CHURCH to pray for the rulers of each land. Prayer Warriors (jndeed, the term is not in Scripture) are not gifts…just some have more time and determination to pray more than other believers, who are also commanded to pray! Paul does say (to all)…pray without ceasing.
    My own opinion is that, like in the Catholic Church and many pentacostal and evagelist churches, we’ve succombed to the pagan practice of having certain people do certain things…and it is easier to control how the Spirit comes out (many are deep down, AFRAID of letting the Spirit reign)…IF each only has one gift. That’s often determined NOT by the Spirit…but by one’s experience in life already.
    WHY SHOUKLD I NEED…an ego pump or be miserly in how God uses me? Do we really need to stand ovefr God’s shoulder to tell HIM how to use HIS CREATURES.? WE ARE ALL CALLED TO INTERCEED..just some of us choose to do more and more intensely.

    1. Nicely put. I have come up against this thinking so much. You summed it up rather well right there. Thanks for sharing!

      1. For another brother in Christ—anytime! Can you find the Bible references I used? Kind of up against the time clock here! 🙂

      2. Up against a time clock?

      3. I’m writing all this at work (I work a late 2nd shift–industrial Security)…expecting my relief coming any time now! They allow us to use the Internet to help us stay alert and awake. Need me to rewrite and provide Scripture refernces? Or can I put my answer into poetry over here (tomorrow, probably!)? OH HE ARRIVES!!!! 😀

      4. Poetry sounds great…whenever you see this again.

      5. Okay….maybe I’ll surprise you. 🙂

  3. Did you you get a chance to check out the other 2 Myths?

  4. Referenced m the beginning the 5 fold ministry from Ephesians 4. Then Peter’s epistles and commands to pray for authority….
    Like that or the you mean the chapter and verses?

  5. I agree that we all are gifted with the gift of prayer. We all live in families. Family dynamics always have various communication styles. Just because some are more outspoken than others, does not mean the rest of us should not talk.

    All Christians need to be on their knees individually and corporately seeking his plan anterceding for each other, the church and the nation.

  6. sumibach says:

    1 Corinthians12:
    Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

    Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

  7. In my humle opinion, the existence of gifts of all kinds, from the smallest ability to breath to faith healing is to fulfill a need. The focus is on keeping ourselves open, obedient and responsive to the Holy Spirit to serve the needs of others, forgetting ourselves and avoiding an overfocus on gifts, but on fulfilling those in need. All gifts work for the good of the body of Christ, they are not in competition, but there to compliment the other, all for the glory of God and in service of souls. Blessed are those who give without counting the cost or becoming self-conscious, but serve selflessly considering what needs to be done to provide for those in need.

  8. lucindalines says:

    Sorry I was confused about the prayer warriors thing. I have never heard of it or some of the things you were writing about. Our denomination is not real good with the evangelism part. We are more into the peace and justice and those things. I see the scripture about taking care of the “widows and orphans” come to the top more than some of the other items. My messages have really tried to focus on the commandment from Jesus to “Love one another.” I believe that if we really take to heart to love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind and our neighbor as ourselves, we will be doing the will of God. That along with accepting God’ Grace should be what we are supposed to do and believe and if we do those thing, then we will want to prayer for others and use the gifts we have been given in the best way we can. That is all I have on your piece. Sorry I couldn’t be of better help.

    1. Yeah, the militant aspect in most of the circles comes from Paul’s language of spiritual warfare. It’s like a fight of love. I’ve never really hard or witnessed a distortion on that side of things.
      I love that either way, what tends to rise to the top is the heart of Christ for His children. Thanks for your insight. Also, what has been your denomination?

      1. lucindalines says:

        I belong to the United Church of Christ.

  9. Lisa Crum says:

    Good writing, James. You have approached from an angle I hadn’t considered. None of us is given an out from the call to prayer. As for being an intercessor, I feel that some give themselves to the work of it more than others, and that it is at least in part a product of desire, personality, and life situations. Anna have herself to fasting and praying continually in the temple after she was widowed at a very young age, instead of remarrying and pursuing a more earthly interest. She got to see 8-day old Jesus brought to the temple as a result of her presence there in intercession.

    Some of us will be more passive in prayer, some more passionate, but we should neither feel excused from or elevated by our level of strength in it. I’m glad some can lend themselves to prayer for hours at a time…and if that’s your particular ability, do it with all your might! It’s needed. But the prayers of a new mom whose sleep is as erratic as her chaotic schedule may not be so stretched out. Either way, the point is that we pray, period! We may have even some seasons where we spend more or less time on our knees; and do long as we do so with fervency, the content is more important than the length. It is chiefly about relationship with God. The more quality time we spend in His presence, the more desire we have for things to be as He wants them to be. We begin to speak His heart through our mouths. And yes absolutely, we must remember that the work of prayer is for everyone! Paul would tell us to pray without ceasing–in essence, involve Father in every aspect of your life, all day long. Keep the meditation of His view, His Words, His desires close always. Prayer is a two-way conversation, and if we allow Him to speak to us and teach us even in the little things of our day’s routine, He will! I love the listening time as much as the asking time!

    My Granny was a “prayer warrior,” and she made no distinction herself about it. She just did it. Few people knew other than our immediate family about her disciplined prayer life. She would get up way before the rest of us, and kneel at the bathtub with a growing list of names and needs she kept tucked in her Bible on a sheet of notebook paper. That page was smudged beyond readability from anointing oil and tears. I wish I had it now. Folks didn’t know about that piece of paper, but they knew Granny walked close to God. They would give her names of loved ones and prayer needs, confident that if she said she’d pray for them, it wasn’t just a gesture to humor them. And because Granny spent more time on her knees than the average believer, she began aligning her thoughts more and more with God’s heart.

    I didn’t consider myself a prayer warrior at all, because for me the desire to get up early and spend x amount of time each day wasn’t a natural pull for me. And yet, I couldn’t escape the pull to read about prayer, to study it, to want to hone my ability to do it effectively. James didn’t say that the effectual fervent prayer of an intercessor availeth much; but rather the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man! Lord, make us righteous people…and cause prayer to pour out of us from love for You above all. May we never use the excuse of not being specifically “called” to intercession as a means to shirk the need to get in Your presence and just remain there all day, every day!

    Oops! I just wrote a while blog post in your comments section! Good stuff, James.

    1. Lisa Crum says:

      I’m less interested in disputing what others think and say about prayer than I am just shutting out the noise and hearing what God has to say. I’m not great at debating the Scriptures and doctrines…I just want God’s Kingdom and Will here on earth as it is in heaven! If I stay there, in that groove, it keeps me out of “a heap of trouble.”

      1. Both of these comments are full of such good stuff. Sounds like your path has been similar to mine. His Word has set us free to His work. Outside and inside influences are what narrow and enslave us, not His gifts! Thanks for such focused, personal, and thorough content. I really loved it!

  10. charlie says:

    Thanks, James. May the Lord bless you and make you a blessing to many.

  11. This is an excellent article. For many years I didn’t have much of a prayer life. Recently, now that I’m a Catholic convert, I went back to a prayer tradition I had used earlier in my life— the rosary. (Yeah, when I was a Lutheran I prayed the rosary. And the first Lutheran I confessed that to prayed the rosary as well.)

    For me the meditations on the life of Christ during the rosary are the chief part, and the spoken prayers are a sort of decoration to those meditation.

    I decided when I began praying the rosary more that each rosary would be in intercession for the needs of other people rather than just myself.

    After a bit of doing this I find I have a prayer life. And a lady at my church called me a ‘prayer warrior’. Well, if someone as distractable and disorganized as I am can be a prayer warrior, everyone can do it.

    1. Wow. You never know what someone will bring to the table. Thanks for that.
      Btw, what exactly is the rosary? Is there a memorized phrase? Is there a dating involved? Not trying to be controversial, just wondering.

  12. profsloan says:

    Jesus made a very profound comment in Matthew 6:

    Be careful not to practise your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
    ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:1‬ ‭(NIV)

    He then applies it to giving, praying and fasting. Jesus talks about things being done in secret:

    But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
    ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:6‬ ‭(NIV)

    Now there must be a difference between private and corporate prayer, because we are told in Acts that the church continued in the apostles’ doctrine, breaking of bread and prayer. So it seems that the early church prayed corporately, but individuals must also have prayed privately. The difficulty with classing anyone as a ‘prayer warrior’ is that it is often based on imperfect knowledge. What I mean is that we hear people praying publicly and are impressed with how lucid their prayers are, or how spiritual they seem to be. We have no knowledge of how they pray privately.

    However, it is clear that if we class a ‘prayer warrior’ as someone who takes prayer seriously and spends time intercessing with God for others, then let’s encourage those in our fellowships who are led to do this. Prayer is essential to the siritual health of the body of Christ.

  13. Intercession is a big word for a such primordial act: loving. No relationship grows without attention and love. The natural outgrowth of love is loving more, it bubbles over and affects everything about you and those around you. Love is what starts, sustains and grows intercession. Intercession is not about simply knocking on the heavenly door, it is one lover talking to another Lover. “My Divine Darling, will you supply for those I love?” In this understanding intercession builds the relationship between God and our fellow brothers and sisters, whether they are in a saintly or redeemed sinner place in their relationship with God and others. Relationships require us to know, love and serve the beloved. Intercession is the natural response to wanting to be loved, and wanting to give love.

    We love our spouses, children, friends and siblings by providing meals, being present to them, giving of ourselves, etc…these are intercessions for love of neighbor. Praying is not limited to being on our knees, though that is a good discipline to practice regularly w/humility, piety and deep love for God. Our whole lives are intended to be prayers. Praying shouldn’t stop at any moment, but being a role of our whole hearts in all moments of our lives. Keep that relationship with God with you at all times and the time to kneel has a place in your day, as well as total silence and stillness with God, and bring your loved and unloved ones into that…so one day we may all be unified in love of God and neighbor where intercession is an ocean of love in which we all live and discover God in each other because we never let Him leave our hearts, but kept Him steeped and flowing with our love.

    1. Debbie says:

      This is a beautiful way of looking at intercession… as a response to love and also as a means to love.

  14. Chris says:

    Hi James – sorry for the delay – you asked me last week to comment on this one I think. It’s a great topic and I’ve realized in the last year that I’ve had to focus more on it and I’ve definitely been doing that. Because I spent so many years in cessationist churches, I never heard about intercession. Thankfully, as I write on my blog, I’ve been “delivered” from that powerless dead stuff and I’m a full-up real Pentecostal (3 years now). I’m relatively new to the topic of intercession so I’d say I’m still in the early stages of getting in the habit of doing it – it’s like any new thing…takes time to figure out how to do this and then push myself to establish new patterns and routines, etc. I’m trying to get to the point where I actually take a more active role in this especially in regard to people with prayer requests or different events going on in the world or anything else. I’m getting there…just learning this topic along with many others and have definitely begun to see how effective it is. It is very high up on my list right now and so I am making progress. Great topic!!

    1. It’s heavy on my heart too, especially right now. Thanks for sharing your story. Sounds like God is dreaming with us is similar ways for the same means!

      1. Meant to dealing not dreaming

  15. benleney says:

    Thanks James for liking my piece, and also for directing me to your superb blog! I enjoyed your piece on intercession, and I do feel it’s a useful corrective to avoid labelling people as ‘intercessors’ just as an excuse not to pray. I love the previous comment here: ntercession is not about simply knocking on the heavenly door, it is one lover talking to another Lover. “My Divine Darling, will you supply for those I love?”
    Also, I feel you hit inadvertantly on a problem in contemporary preaching, that in the place of ‘application’ or ‘anecdotes’ comments are made that often swing against the balance of Scripture, and do not correctly reflect biblical doctrine. When you look at the history of revival, revivals happened when people prayed; when they didn’t, it didn’t. I think on God’s heart particularly is the full bowl of incense in heaven – filling up with the prayers, and the more fervent pray-ers there are, the quicker the bowls fill.

    I would not lay claim to having an intercessory gift, but I do feel the pull, like yourself, to pray. I really liked what you said about the gifts of the Spirit not being ‘competencies’ – the danger with this approach is that we don’t engage in something that we struggle with. Until we struggle, we rarely grow.

    Keep blogging, and I’ll explore your site more. Bless you!

    1. Wow! That’s a lot of good stuff. I totally agree with the state of preaching. This is tally another point of prayer for us… Out at least it should be! Thanks for the comments and enriching all of our thoughts with your input in the discussion.

  16. Hi James!
    I really enjoyed your article and thought you brought up some really good points and myths that believers will hear at church. I think you hit on something really good about how only certain people can intercede in prayer. Like other comments have mentioned, we have all been called to pray and to intercede for others, whether that is other believers, non-believers, etc. While some may have a greater inclination to prayer than others, we all have the opportunity to come before the throne of grace in confidence.

    I am excited to check out your other blog posts and see what you have been writing about. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks so much for joining the conversation. I love reading what has stuck out in the kind of others as they read blogs. I look forward to hearing your perspectives on the other topics as well!

  17. I agree. Every Christian is called to intercession.

  18. Battles of every day life,stress,sickness,welfare of family and friends. The list can and is constant. Battles are all around us here on earth and unseen above as angels fight demons. I pray continually. I have open prayers going all the time. I pray for complete strangers. I not only pray during the day,but through the night when I wake. People come to me out in public that I do not know and start telling me their worries/problems. I ask if I can pray for them,taking their hand. I pray to the Lord up above,earnestly and honestly. I pray His will be done,that His healing or not in some cases,brings comfort to someone. That His path be made clear,that we choose His path,that He please direct us and we follow. I have prayed every single day and many sleepless nights since I was 6 and asked Him in to my heart. I always thank Him for His many many blessings,but I always pray to be a blessing for Him for others here on this earth.
    Thank you for inviting me in to this conversation. My blog titled, Prayer Warriors, hopefully encourages others to raise their children in the Lord and to always have that daily fellowship of prayer with Him. He wants us to talk with Him. Am I a prayer warrior? I hope so. Fighting the evils of this world through prayer till the day I leave this earth. Is it a gift only given to the select? No. Prayer is Powerful. I love that. I love that prayers are being sent up all seconds of the day. That He hears each one. That He answers them in His way and timing.

    1. I’ll check out that blog. Sounds like how my parents prayed over us…. To be used mightily in the end times! Thanks.

  19. frankomeara says:

    G’day James,

    WordPress has just informed me that you apparently not only consulted my blog but appreciated the entry “Talking IN Tongues, Talking TO Tongues” (blindfaithblindfolly.wordpress.com). Having read the sort of stuff you are writing, and the comments you are receiving, I wonder why you didn’t yourself make a comment on my ridiculing this Pentecost nonsense. As a militant atheist, and a former Catholic priest and theologian, I try to respect believers but find it impossible to respect beliefs like yours. Dialogue between us would be impossible and pointless. But I do want you to realize that the nonsense you exchange with your pious readers is providing grist for my mill. Have you any idea of the meaning of my mantra, “Ridenda Religio” ?

  20. ptl2010 says:

    James Edward, keep going. Good insights, I am inclined to request your approval to repost your blogs in this series on ChrstianBlessings, my blogsite.

    We all need to pray for the Word says “pray without ceasing. ”

    We are deprived of The blessings from prayer if we do not pray. Prayer is acknowledging we need The Lord everyday and for things and people that concern us because of love or commitment to the Lord’s control.

    1. I would be honored for you to do that! Thanks for the encouragement.

  21. Indeed we are ALL called to pray and ALL called to intercession even as Christ seated at the right hand of God is interceding for us. Continue to be in prayer and worship, listening for the Spirit and releasing what He wants released. God bless you 🙂

    1. Thanks so much! You’ve been a blessing to me and I hope this becomes a blessing to others through you.

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