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Many are familiar with prayer in general but did you know there are different types? There are types of prayer outlined in the Bible that are used in specific situations to achieve a particular purpose.
Before we dive into this week’s teaching, pray this with me.
Prayer Starter: Dear Father, thank you so much for the simplicity of Your love for us. Please help us grow in the knowledge of your love and let us not just be hearers of your Word but doers. In Christ’s name, Amen.
What would life look like if you were renewed?
What would life look like if you were refreshed?
What would life look like if you became reawakened to the love of God?
One of the building blocks for renewal is prayer and, more specifically, a type of prayer called intercession. The word intercession means prayer on behalf of oneself or another. It means to urge, to come between, to act between parties. It also means to entreat, to intercede for help. This word, which describes a kind of prayer, is when you’re standing before God, sometimes for yourself, most often for others, and you’re bringing them before God. You’re petitioning God for His help because that individual (or individuals), organization or nation cannot. They may not be in the place, or they’re unaware of their need for God’s help, but you stand there as an intermediary and advocate for that individual in the power of prayer.
I love what the American businessman Charles Bent said to define intercession.
“Intercessory prayer might be defined as loving our neighbor on our knees.” —Charles Bent.
One of the most incredible things that you can ever do is to develop a ministry of prayer.
There was a certain man from Ramathaim, a zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none (1 Samuel 1:1-2, NIV).
Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of his meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave double portions because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb. Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. Her husband Elkanah would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?” Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s house. In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.” As she kept praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.” “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied. “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.” Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Isreal grant you what you have asked of him.” She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast (1 Samuel 1:4-18, NIV).
This is one of the greatest stories in the Bible to depict the making of an intercessor. Barrenness, in Bible days, was looked at as almost the ultimate tragedy for a married woman. The hope for married women was that they would be able to give their husbands a son, and the son would inherit their name and state. When Hannah discovered that she was barren, she was very troubled and made it a point of prayer. God answered her prayer.
How did Hannah become an intercessor?
Intercessors are made, not born.
You cannot become an intercessor from birth. You don’t become an intercessor because of will. Seeking God is a developed skill, and Paul weighs in on this conversation. He describes there being many kinds of prayer. The prayer that reflects intercessory prayer, that’s prayed by an intercessor, is a developed skill.
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2:1-2, NIV).
God, our Savior, wants all people to be saved and come to know the truth.
Paul is telling you that it requires you to be intentional. All the picketing, rioting, and crying out for political change isn’t going to save our nation. God is going to bring transformation.
When He steps into our story, He reshapes it. Prayer is our invitation to God. We’re asking Him to get involved because this challenging problem that we’re facing can’t be broken on our own. We don’t have the strength, skill or wit to fix the issues ourselves.
Sometimes we get mistaken and think that knowledge will help us solve a problem.
I want you to know that you can be very academically strong, but if you don’t have the power to bend your knees and pray, you won’t bring the change God wants.
I’m trying to make the point that intercessors are made, not born.
Intercessors are people who are deeply bothered by the state of affairs. Year after year, when Hannah and her family went to the temple to worship God, Peninnah would provoke her. She would mock her for being barren, and it can be with words and actions when you mock someone. Imagine Peninnah brushing her kid’s hair and commenting loudly how wonderful it is to take care of children, knowing that Hannah doesn’t have any.
We can see in the Scripture that God had closed up Hannah’s womb. In other words, in the Providence of God, He had a hold on Hannah’s ability to get pregnant and have a child. The only thing that was going to remove the hold was a time of long prayer on Hannah’s behalf.
Could there be a hold on some area of your life where you are barren?
Is there an area of your life where you are unfruitful?
Could it be that God is letting you experience that pain so you can turn to Him, become an intercessor and see a breakthrough come?
“There is no one who calls on Your name, who stirs up himself to take hold of You; for you have hidden Your face from us and have consumed us because of our inequities” (Isaiah 64:7, MEV).
You’ll have to get to a place where you are disturbed or angry about something and it bothers you to your core, and God is trying to get your attention. If we look at Hannah, she gets to a place of being fed up and turns to Almighty God in prayer.
I want you to see that intercessors are made, not born.
You can keep on living in your lack, your mess and your bareness, and your lack is not upsetting you enough to where you turn to God. Instead, you think you need more vacations or to purchase more stuff.
I’m trying to tell you that you don’t medicate your soul with earthly things.
God wants you to cry out to Him in prayer and desperation so that He can break something inside you. It’s something that’s been closed and locked up. Once this is broken, THEN you can come to a new dimension of fruitfulness, and that is how intercessors are made. They’re not made because they want to be. They’re made because something drove them to prayer.
I want you to see that something is happening in your life. Something’s knocking on the door of your heart, creating a lot of pain. It gets you irritated, agitated and perturbed.
Could it be that God wants to use our emotions?
Intercession always starts with emotion. Let your emotions turn you to God.
Intercessors are made on their knees.
Intercessors have come to realize that certain battles can only be won in prayer. Why can’t God just do it for us? God allows our frustration to build because He is withholding something.
When we pursue Him, and He gives us the very thing that we’ve been asking for, it endears us and increases our value of communing with Him.
It’s like having children. When you have kids and give them everything they ask for, they walk around entitled and spoiled. But if you tell them no and have them work for things, the best in them comes out.
When you recognize that you’ve birthed something in prayer, and you know that it wasn’t magic or happenstance, all of a sudden, something forms inside of you where you realize God has called you to move Him in prayer.
“Prayer is the language of the poor. The self-sufficient don’t need to pray. The self-satisfied don’t want to pray. The self-righteous can’t pray.
The only people who pray are those who realize we need a power outside of ourselves.” —Leonard Ravenhill (British Pastor & Author)
We often are so self-sufficient that we don’t go before God. There is nothing wrong with going before your Heavenly Father because He loves to hear from you. Intercessors are made on their knees.
Remember what intercession is? It’s to plead, urge and go before God on behalf of yourself or someone else. Intercession is like pleading a case before the judge of Heaven.
Remember in 1 Samuel when Hannah prayed to the Lord weeping bitterly? She made a vow and a commitment to God. The language of that Scripture is Hannah being passionate and persuasive. She brought her case before God and was pleading in the courtroom of Heaven. Hannah vowed that if God gave her a son, she would dedicate him back to God. This is what intercession is all about.
When you are in times of intercession, you are pleading a case before God. Hannah was pouring out vulnerable words and was using public pleas that were articulate, and she also had private groans that no one was able to understand except God Himself. As she was praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth, and he thought she was drunk because her voice was not heard. She tells Eli that she was not drunk but was pouring her heart to the Lord. There comes a time in intercession when you’re emptying your soul and not holding anything back.
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27, NIV).
Sometimes you cry out to God, and suddenly, you get to a place where it’s no longer just mental. It’s emotional. You will get to this spot of intercession where you are pouring out your heart, and then you don’t even know what to say. You can’t even articulate it and are so caught up in your emotions. Don’t think that your emotions are foolish. Don’t think that you’re babbling to the Lord. Our loud whimpers and our soft whispers are prayers to God.
When Hannah muttered and murmured, those words meant something before Heaven’s creator. God was taking her words that may have seemed so disjointed, and shaping her into the intercessor that He called her to be.
I want you to know the power of God when we cry out to Him in intercession. When you step into the place of intercession, you don’t go in with 15 goals. You have one goal, and it may be your marriage, a financial situation or something else, but it’s something that is bothering you, and it’s on the forefront of your mind. Don’t turn on the television. Spend some time in prayer and let God mold you and shape you. When you’re crying out to Him, you might weep or whimper. You might stumble over your words. This doesn’t mean you’re inarticulate or uneducated. It means that you want to have power before God and that you want to move Heaven.
Intercessors have scars AND trophies!
I would not be an honest Bible teacher if I told you everything always works out perfectly when you pray. If I said that, I’d be lying. Sometimes you walk around with scars. You walk around with the pain of unanswered prayers or prayers that God didn’t answer the way you wanted Him to.
I want you to understand there are scars, and it’s not just me who has them.
Bible heroes had scars of intercession. David had an affair with Bathsheba, and she got pregnant. David then started crying out to God because the child was born with an illness. He spent seven days fasting and praying for God to heal the child, and the child died on the seventh day. David washed his face on the eighth day and worshipped God. That is a scar of intercession.
If we look at Paul in 2 Corinthians, Chapter 12, he says that there was a thorn in his side. It was a messenger of Satan. Paul prayed three times for God to take it away, and on the third time, God said: “My grace is sufficient for you. For my power is made perfect in weakness.” That scar didn’t stop Paul.
The greatest intercessory scar was on Jesus. When He was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He cried out to God three times. He asked God to take the cup away from Him. He also had James, Peter and John praying with Him as well. Then they fell asleep, and the third time Jesus prayed, He said, “Not my will be done, Your will be done.” That is a scar of intercession.
I want you to understand that you may have scars, but scars make you stronger. Scars shouldn’t get you to a place where you stop praying.
Some of you have stopped praying and stopped coming to the secret place. When you get to Heaven, and Paul shows you his scars, you need to show your scars too. You must say there were times when God didn’t give me what I asked for, but I have trophies of intercession.
“Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.” Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of Him.” She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast” (1 Samuel 1:16-17, NIV).
That day in the temple, Hannah received a trophy of intercession.
How do you know that? You know when you get a breakthrough in prayer. When you’re crying out to God and reasoning your case, it comes to a point where you feel like the Heavens have broken. You will feel like you don’t have any resistance or hindrance.
If you keep reading in 1 Samuel, Hannah returns home, has relations with her husband, and gets pregnant. She gives birth to a boy named Samuel, and when he weens, she brings him to the temple to present him to Eli. If you follow the growth of Samuel, he becomes the most powerful prophet in Israel. Hannah gave birth to a kingmaker. When she gave birth in intercession, she gave birth to a national prophet.
When you are burdened and barren, don’t stay there.
Take your bareness before Holy God and bring your need before Him. That’s what God wants you to do and what He’s calling you to do. He wants you to become an intercessor who prevails in prayer.
Prayer helps us to join forces with God. Prayer helps us to change history. God is calling us as history makers to become intercessors. It doesn’t matter what you did in your past or if you are young in Christ. You can be a baby in Christ but be a powerful intercessor. God is calling you to a new place where you can pray and prevail before Him.
Prayer: Dear God, please change us. Help us to be individuals that shape history. In Christ’s name, Amen.