The PRINCIPLES of Intercession Series 2000—
Things that Make Us Want to Pray
I HAVE NEVER BEEN PERFECT IN PRAYING.
In fact, its been one of my weak points. Over and over, Ive
had to depend on the Lord to strengthen me in it.
Over and over, Ive asked the Lord to release the spirit of supplications in me. Many times, Ive gone
to Him with my weak spirit, too easily grown weary with the fight. Hes
never failed to renew in me the desirealong with conviction and
anointingto pray and bring others before His throne, as well as
to place my own pitiful plight into His powerful hands. This is pure gracethe
kind of grace that enables us and flows from us to touch others.
AS WEVE BEEN SPENDING TIME with the
Apostle Paul in these little mini-MASCHIL editions, our
understanding about praying has increased. What hes 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.
ONE: THE PRINCIPLE OF THANKING
GOD FOR THOSE FOR WHOM WE PRAY
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 Gods Spirit. Being thankful for themno matter
how obnoxious they may be calls His presence upon them and releases
them to conviction and healing. This is amazing. It doesnt 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, apprehensionor
whatever other ugly attitude we may hold even jealousy.
TWO: THE PRINCIPLE OF IMPORTUNITY
IN PRAYER, AND THAT WITH JOY
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
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. Its 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.
THREE: THE PRINCIPLE OF CONFIDENCE
REGARDING THOSE FOR WHOM ONE PRAYS
The Lord works something into the spirits of intercessors to convince them others can be salvaged for the Kingdom of Christeven 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 Gods power and faithfulness to bring something to pass. His words meant, "What Ive 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." Pauls 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 wasnt 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.
FOUR: THE PRINCIPLE OF AN ENLARGED
Here is the principle at work by which we, as intercessors, allow our hearts to become large enough to take on a concern for otherseven 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! Its 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 Pauls 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 Gods grace, its super abundance extended to those for whom he was praying.
FIVE: THE PRINCIPLE OF SHARING IN THE
COMPASSION THE LORD HAS FOR OTHERS
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, sympathyall of which eat at the inward parts of usthe compassion of Jesus Christ can come over us. Then the feelings and affectionsalong with the ability to hold others before the Throne of Gods gracebecome pure and peaceable. Intercession becomes a joyful thing. Faith can see its work accomplished because were set free to pray from Gods perspective, not our own.
© Berean Ministries
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