Encourage Someone Today
The PRINCIPLES of Intercession Series 2000
Special Edition


Things that Make Us Want to Pray
...some Things We Learn from Paul when He Was in the Roman Jail

I HAVE NEVER BEEN PERFECT IN PRAYING. In fact, it’s been one of my weak points. Over and over, I’ve had to depend on the Lord to strengthen me in it.

One day while I was feeling particularly weak in prayer, it came to me I should ask for the spirit of supplications. This is a remote term from the Prophet Zechariah. And I will pour upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications…Zechariah 12: l0a. I asked the Lord what this meant. He impressed me it was the operation of His Spirit that makes us want to pray. He didn’t speak to me that day about the spirit of grace, but I’ve come to see they are both connected. There is a grace that comes upon our lives when we pray—especially when we pray for others.

I remember a friend who said, "We come to the point where we’re glad for anything that will make us pray." He meant any kind of pressure or trouble. To be truthful, I’d rather have God’s Spirit do the work—and bring His grace along with it.

Over and over, I’ve asked the Lord to release the spirit of supplications in me. Many times, I’ve gone to Him with my weak spirit, too easily grown weary with the fight. He’s never failed to renew in me the desire—along with conviction and anointing—to pray and bring others before His throne, as well as to place my own pitiful plight into His powerful hands. This is pure grace—the kind of grace that enables us and flows from us to touch others.

AS WE’VE BEEN SPENDING TIME with the Apostle Paul in these little mini-MASCHIL editions, our understanding about praying has increased. What he’s said in his Prison Epistles has helped especially in the discipline of praying for others. We call this intercession—"the act of pleading in prayer on behalf of others."

This month, we want to consider five principles of intercession found in Philippians 1:3-8. Paul wrote this Epistle from Rome while he was imprisoned for preaching the Gospel. He held a concern for people to whom he had ministered in Asia Minor, but all he could do was pray for them and write to them. What he wrote revealed how he prayed.

A principle is "an essential quality, or element, that explains a natural action." Regarding the principles of intercession, we mean those motivating forces that make prayer for others a natural thing. Actually, it becomes a naturally supernatural thing. Intercession flows from people in whom these principles reside.

Now, I ask you to join me in requesting of the Lord the spirit of supplications. Then we will open ourselves to the principles of intercession that worked in Paul—thankfulness, importunity, confidence, an enlarged heart, and compassion.

HEAVENLY FATHER, You know my weakness in praying. Actually, I’m more inclined to worry and fret than 1 am to pray. I take release from this— right now—and yield to the work of Your Spirit. Bring within me a strong desire to pray, especially for these who are so heavy on my heart. Renew in me the discipline of intercession. Release in me the spirit of supplications.

Philippians 1:3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.

Intercessors who begin praying with thanksgiving find fresh anointing and joy in their praying. This calls for the development of a discipline that will turn every mention, or recollection, of someone into a thanksgiving. This might be difficult in some cases, but it can come, no matter what may be the attitude, response, or condition of those for whom the thanksgiving is made. We must train our souls in this. The Holy Spirit will help us.

In being thankful for others, we can open them for the moving in of God’s Spirit. Being thankful for them—no matter how obnoxious they may be— calls His presence upon them and releases them to conviction and healing. This is amazing. It doesn’t mean they will immediately yield to the Spirit, but it does bring them into proximity with Him.

Thanking the Lord for persons does something wonderful for us. It sanctifies our attitude regarding others. It works to remove condemnation, hostility, fear, anger, resentment, disgust, worry, apprehension—or whatever other ugly attitude we may hold— even jealousy.

Paul was notorious in thanking God for people. Let’s look at some of his statements regarding this. We need to soak in these for a while. Then, let’s take some time training our souls in the discipline. We can make it an exercise. It may strain some spiritual muscles at first, but these muscles can become strong.

Romans 1:8—First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all...
1 Corinthians 1:4—I thank my God always on your behalf...
I Thessalonians 1:2—We give thanks to God always for you all...
II Thessalonians 1:3—We are bound to thank God always for you...

FATHER, here we go. Some of this is going to be difficult, but I’m determined to win out. Give me the help of Your Spirit as I begin thanking You for every person who comes into my memory. I will refuse to do this for no one. I ask You to sanctify my relationship with each one whose recollection brings pain.

— Philippians 1:4,5 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,
For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;

The word prayer and the word request in this verse are both from the same Greek word, deésis. This is a wonderfully unusual word meaning "importunate prayer." This is prayer that must have an answer because the need is great. It is strong supplication coming from someone who will not turn aside from making his or her request known, and who will not admit to any reason why the request should not be answered. It is prayer arising from utter necessity.

When this kind of prayer goes on, it means intercessors take on a concern for others that holds them before God’s Throne until His power and authority is in control—both in their persons and their circumstances.

Luke 11:1-8 informs us regarding this kind of praying. The man who came at midnight to his friend who had bread was asking not for himself, but for someone else in need. Luke 11:8 says his request was granted because of his importunity, not because the man who had bread was his friend.

Importunity is from the Greek anaídeian which means "shamelessness." It is, if you please, stubborn solicitation without regard to time, place, or person. It is prayer based solely on necessity and the knowledge that there is an answer available through God. It forgets legality, propriety, worthiness, or even spiritual standing. It’s a marvelous kind of praying that Jesus taught also in Luke 18:1-8 where He told of the widow whose continual coming won the aid of a sovereign judge.

In a marvelous way, joy finds release in this kind of praying.

GRACIOUS LORD, I’ve brought these souls before You so many times that I wonder if You grow weary of my coming. But here I am again. They are needy. They are in darkness. There is no hope for them unless Your Spirit comes on them. I am holding them before You, knocking at Your door like the man who came to his friend’s house at midnight for bread. Grant the help of Your Spirit in bringing these people through to healing and deliverance.

—Philippians 1:6 Being confident
of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work
in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ;

The Lord works something into the spirits of intercessors to convince them others can be salvaged for the Kingdom of Christ—even brought over into the service of the Kingdom. This "confidence" is a firm persuasion, a kind of faith born of the Holy Spirit.

The words being confident are from the word peítho and mean "having been persuaded, or convinced." A process had gone on in Paul convincing him of God’s power and faithfulness to bring something to pass. His words meant, "What I’ve gone through with God has persuaded me regarding His ability to bring a work to completion. This persuasion is so deep in me that when I look on you, a confidence arises in me regarding you."

There are two other important terms in Philippians 1:6. One is the word perform from epiteléo. It means "to carry out to completion; to bring to a perfect end." Paul’s persuasion regarding those for whom he prayed was that the work begun in them would see its perfection. Having begun, it would not wind up in frustration. Second is the term until the day of Jesus Christ. This meant Paul was believing for a work that would make those people whole for the time when Christ Jesus would be all in all upon the earth. He wasn’t believing just for good religious activity in them, but for the wonderful inward work of the Holy Spirit that would make them ready to function with Christ in His everlasting Kingdom.

DEAR LORD, too often I’ve grown weary in believing for these I’m holding before You today. For too long I’ve looked at the weakness and defeat in them. Forgive me. Now, I call forth—and believe for—Your work in them. I confess this is more powerful than all their weakness, and all their determination to withstand You. Oh, thank You, Faithful Lord!

—Philippians 1:7 Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.

Here is the principle at work by which we, as intercessors, allow our hearts to become large enough to take on a concern for others—even though we have problems of our own. This means we find the strength of spirit, mind, emotion, and will to leave our own circle of conflict and enter the conflict of someone else. Then, our own problems grow smaller as we see God taking concern for us while we are taking concern for others.

Several things in this verse are enlightening. First we note it is meet. This means "it is an equitable and fair thing." Paul was in jail. There was no equity or fairness in what he was going through. He could have been sending out distress signals for himself. He did not. Instead, he called it a fair thing for him to bear the burden and distress of others. He could do this because Christ was the sufficiency of his life. Having lost all natural privileges of comfort and freedom, he could pray for others and consider it a just thing because he had found his own spiritual comfort and freedom in relationship with the Lord. What a wonderful place! It’s available for us. (Ephesians is all about this.)

There is also something enlightening in the words to think in this Philippians verse. They are from the Greek phronéo. Some of you who have been with us through the years remember that long ago the Lord spoke to me about the word phónema and its Verb form, phronéo. It means holding on to a certain way of thinking about something, or having a certain frame of thought that influences all other thoughts and decisions. (All the articles on the framework of the inner man have grown out of this.).

To think reached to the inner parts of Paul’s mind, even to his heart where his feelings and affections were. It touched upon the way he thought about the persons to whom he was writing. His frame of mind regarding them was that they would come to their completion in Christ. He regarded them in no other way but this.

Paul had this attitude for a simple reason. He had stepped from his own circle of concern and need into the circles of others with their concerns and needs. In doing this, Christ had come into his circle. This was a powerful exchange. It caused him to have a higher frame of thought regarding others. Whereas, he might have looked on others and seen their depravity, he saw, instead, that they could come to completion in Christ. Thus, he prayed.

Paul called what he had my grace. Being a partaker of God’s grace, its super abundance extended to those for whom he was praying.

HEAVENLY FATHER, right now I step from my own circle into the circle of these others. I turn my worry, fear, and trouble over to You. I lay aside my "busyness" and take this time right now to hold these who are in my heart up to Your grace. Oh, I believe You are working on their behalf.

—Philippians 1:8 For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.

This is the principle of caring for souls with the same tender affection as the Lord Jesus. This comes on as intercessors spend time with the Lord and begin feeling what He wants for the souls under their care.

The word bowels is from the strange and difficult-to-pronounce Greek word splágchnon. It means "the chief intestines; the entrails." By metonymy, it means "the tender affections of the heart."

Something in the instructions the Lord gave Moses points to this. Under the ceremonial Law, the entrails of a sacrificial animal were burned all on the altar. But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water: and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LordLeviticus 1:9. This is a picture of the affections and desires of the human heart being consumed on the altar of surrender to the Lord, and replaced by the affections and desires of the Holy Spirit.

It touches upon, and gives meaning to, what Jesus said in Luke 14:25-27…If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

The affections and feelings we have for father, mother, wife, children, brothers and sisters, and our own life also consist in what Paul calls the bowels. This is where we hold emotional feeling for others— sometimes good, sometimes painful. These can be left on the altar of surrender, there to be replaced with the purified feelings and affections of Christ for these same people.

What an exchange!

Instead of feelings of frustration, disappointment, anger, guilt, and, sometimes, sympathy—all of which eat at the inward parts of us—the compassion of Jesus Christ can come over us. Then the feelings and affections—along with the ability to hold others before the Throne of God’s grace—become pure and peaceable. Intercession becomes a joyful thing. Faith can see its work accomplished because we’re set free to pray from God’s perspective, not our own.

FATHER, my ability to give up my deep feelings regarding others is weak. I’m prone to hold on to soulish love toward some, and bitterness toward others. All of this I yield up to You. Please release in me Your feelings toward all these I now hold before You. Let Your work come forth in them.

In Jesus Name,


© Berean Ministries

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On Light Coming into the Darkened Dianoia



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