A Model Of Intercession
"And He said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth" (Luke 11:5-8).
Prayer is the secret of success in all Christian work. It can defy all the power of the world, and fit men to conquer that world for Christ. It is the power of the heavenly life, the power of Godís own Spirit, the power of Omnipotence that waits for prayer to bring it down. It was the thought of Godís kingdom and glory that possessed the early disciples. If we would be delivered from the sin of lack of prayer, we must enlarge our hearts for the work of intercession. The Master teaches us in the parable of the friend at midnight that intercession for the needy calls forth the highest exercise of our power of believing and prevailing prayer. Let us learn what the elements of true intercession are.
1. The urgent need. The friend came at midnight Ė an untimely hour. He was hungry and could not buy bread. If we are to learn to pray aright we must open eye and heart to the need around us. Let us take time to consider and realize the need.
Each Christless soul is going down into outer darkness, perishing of hunger, with bread enough and to spare! Millions a year are dying without the knowledge of Christ. Not only the multitudes in heathen midnight darkness, but our own neighbors and friends, souls entrusted to us are dying without hope! Christians around us are living a sickly, feeble, fruitless life! Surely there is need for prayer. Nothing, nothing but prayer to God will avail!
2. The willing love. The friend took his weary, hungry friend into his house, and into his heart too. He did not excuse himself by saying he had no bread; he gave himself at midnight to seek it for him. He sacrificed his nightís rest and his comfort to find the needed bread. Love "seeketh not her own" (1 Cor. 13:5).
True love to souls will become in us the spirit of intercession. It is possible to do a great deal of faithful earnest work for our fellowmen without true love to them. Servants of Christ may give themselves to their work with devotion and even self-sacrificing enthusiasm without the Christlike love to souls being strong. It is this lack of love that causes so much shortcoming in prayer. Love will compel us to prayer because we cannot rest if souls are not saved.
3. The sense of impotence. The friend at midnight was most willing to give his friend bread, but he had none. It was this sense of impotence, of his inability to help, that sent him begging. "Öa friend of mineÖis come to me, and I have nothing to set before him." As this consciousness takes possession of us, intercession will become our only hope and refuge. The simplest, feeblest Christian can pray down blessing from an Almighty God.
4. The faith in prayer. What he has not himself, another can supply. He has a rich friend near, who will be both able and willing to give the bread. He is sure that if he only asks, he will receive. This faith makes him leave his home at midnight. In Godís Word we have everything that can stir and strengthen such faith in us. It reveals to us God waiting and delighting to bestow these blessings in answer to prayer. It urges us to believe that prayer will be heard, that what we cannot possibly do ourselves for those whom we want to help, can be had by prayer.
5. The importunity that prevails. The faith of the friend met a sudden and unexpected check: the rich friend refuses to hear: "ÖI cannot rise and give thee." How little the loving heart had counted on this disappointment; the supplicant presses his plea. In our intercession we may find that there is difficulty and delay with the answer. It is not easy, against all appearances, to hold fast our confidence that God will hear, and to persevere in full assurance that we shall have what we ask. Yet God so highly prizes our confidence in Him, it is so essentially the highest honor the creature can render the Creator, that He will do anything to train us in the exercise of this trust in Him. Blessed is the man who is not staggered by Godís delay or silence or apparent refusal, but is strong in faith, giving glory to God. Such faith perseveres importunately if need be, and cannot fail to inherit the blessing.
6. The certainty of a rich reward. "I say unto you, because of his importunity, he will give him as many as he needeth." Might we learn to believe in the certainty of an abundant answer. Fix your eye on the recompense of the reward, and in faith learn to count upon the divine assurance that our prayer cannot be vain. "Öhe will rise and give him as many as he needeth." Time spent in prayer will yield more than that given to work. Prayer opens the way for God Himself to do His work in us and through us. Let our chief work, as Godís messengers, be intercession. In it we secure the presence and power of God to go with us.
Condensed and revised from The Ministry of Intercession, by Andrew Murray.