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The disciples asked Jesus "Teach us to pray, just as John the Baptist taught his disciples to pray". So we see that John the Baptist and Jesus both taught people how to pray. Jesus taught the disciples the Lord's Prayer. He also taught much about prayer in the Sermon on the Mount and at numerous other points in His ministry. Therefore we can conclude that prayer - like tying our shoelaces - is something we have to be taught, and it is something we should learn early on in our walk with God.
Intercession is the self-sacrificial work of pouring one's self out for others in prayer. Jesus intercession for us is the model. In His work of "standing in the gap" for us He:
(a) Left the comfort and glory of Heaven.
(b) Took on our nature and our place in life.
(c) Became a servant.
(d) Became subject to death. Completely pouring himself out for those He interceded for.
(e) Got results - and is bringing many to glory as a result of what He has done.
Here are some starting comments about how to enter in to the glory-filled ministry of intercession.
1) Start slowly it is hard and intense work.
2) Read some of the great intercessory prayers of Scripture:
3) You need to ask God to show you His glory.
Moses saw God in the burning bush before he went to intercede for Israel. Isaiah saw God in His glory in the temple before going out to proclaim his prophetic message. Paul saw Jesus as a bright light on the Damascus Road before becoming an apostle to the Gentiles and "suffering all things for the sake of the elect" (2 Tim 2:10). The revelation of the glory of God is an essential prerequisite to powerful ministry - especially that of intercession. It is impossible, or nearly so, to sustain a passionate prayer life to a God we know only in theory. We need to know how great and wonderful God is. How holy he is. How dark sin is. How much God is merciful. How necessary we are to His plan. He calls us into a relationship of usefulness. We are instruments of his glory. Sent by His power. Getting His results.
4) You need ask God to show you the glory of those who are saved and the terrible fate of those who are lost.
Intercession involves having an intense vision for the lives of others in the light of God. We need a knowledge - a certain knowledge that God is full of glory and that He intends to make all who believe in Him glorious. We need to see that without the gospel people will decay into hate and selfishness and become like rotting tires on a dump, that they will "perish". That the only possibility of eternal glory for anyone lies in Christ. Without this certainty and knowledge intercession will be fruitless and unsustainable. You cannot continuously pray out of duty - you must also pray out of a deep love and concern for those who are lost.
Check out the following Bible verses.
1 Corinthians 15: 35-58
1 Corinthians 2:7,Colossians 1:27-29
Luke 13:1-5, John 3:15,16
Revelation 20:1-11,Isaiah 66:18-24, Daniel 12:2,3
5) Get to know the basics of prayer
Do the basic studies at the start of this book first - especially the study on the ascension of Jesus Christ. Without a clear understanding of our place in the heavenly realms we will be powerless confused and ineffective.
6) Make a list of people to pray for and get going
God will teach you as you do it. Learning is a combination of theory and practice in a circle called "praxis". We learn about the theory of prayer and then we go and out and do it which in turn raises more questions so we go back to our theory and reflect on it a bit more then go back and practice.. which raises more questions so we dive into Scripture again.... It is a wonderful, fruitful lifestyle. So learn about prayer -then do it!
7) Be aware of the spiritual powers and how to engage in conflict with them
Jesus faced the Devil in the wilderness. Paul says "we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities...in the heavenly realms." Here is a prayer to help you.
Praying for those under demonic influence.
I confess the sins of my parents and ancestors. (Ex 34:6-8)(Particularly those involving participation in idol worship, magic, sorcery, witchcraft and the occult including some Lodges.)
I renounce all the works of the Devil (Leviticus 19:26-31, Deut 7:5, 25 18:9-14, Acts 19:17-20, Gal 5:19-21).
I ask God to cleanse me completely from sin through the powerful work of the blood of Jesus Christ (1 John 1:7-10).
I give back to God any ground in my life that Satan may have had control of and place myself completely under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. I also ask Jesus to fill me completely with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33, Ephesians 5:18) and to break all bondages of Satan in my life (Jn 8:33-36) and remove all blindness from my heart (2Cor 4:3,4 Eph 4:17,18 , 1Jn 2:11).
I take my authority as a son of God (John 1;1) knowing that one day I shall judge angels (1 Cor 6:3) and that I am raised up with Christ and seated with Him in heavenly realms (Eph 2:6) far above all authority in heaven and on earth. (Eph 1:20,21). In the name of Jesus who holds all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18) I command Satan and all his hosts to depart from me, my family and my house to the place God has appointed for them, never to return.
This prayer can be prayed for others as well as for oneself. (see Daniel 9:1-17) Pray twice daily for two to three weeks. See also some other articles on this topic:
Dealing With Curses, Hexes And Spells
What's Wrong With The Occult?
Spiritual Warfare For The Totally Afraid
8) Make a study of fasting (and do it!)
Many of the great saints of God have practiced fasting and there are many good reasons for fasting - among them to know God's will and receive power in prayer. I don't have enough space here to discuss it but see my article on fasting for some guidelines.
There is a lot more I could say about intercession but this is long enough already. Ask God to teach you. Read the Scriptures. Read biographies of great intercessors - "Rees Howells -Intercessor" by Norman Grubb is one that I guarantee will inspire you. Also "Bone of His Bone" by Baron Von Heugel or "Prayer" by O.Hallesby. "Prayer" by Richard Foster is a very deep book and "Don't Just Stand There Pray Something" by Ronald Dunn is a good starting out book. Anyway if you have any questions just e-mail me!
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© Copyright 1996 John Edmiston