This life of intercession is a very dependent one. In Romans we read, “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit [Himself] maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (8:26-27). We are shipwrecked here upon the blessed Holy Spirit. This is the divine side of this mighty ministry. The Holy Spirit is the great Intercessor and God the Father listens for the prayer of the Holy Spirit. In verse 26 note the intensity of His prayer – “groanings.”
Such a prayer life is not child’s play. Too often we simply trifle with prayer. Prayer means getting into grips with God about something, in full reliance upon the Holy Spirit in us, and as we do this He energizes us and God works and accomplishes His great purposes. We need to be careful not to quench the Holy Spirit.
While a life of intercession can only be maintained as we absolutely depend on the Holy Spirit for it, we must also have a good grip on the Word of God. True prayer and true intercession mean taking God’s promises into His presence for the fulfillment of them at His hand.
It is for this very purpose that He has given us His precious Word. God means just what He says, but do you believe it? The Word of God is your “tool chest.” Just watch a carpenter at work. He has his favorite hammer or screwdriver. So it is with the child of God who is constantly visiting the throne of grace.
Claiming God’s Promise
Spurgeon says in his book, According To The Promise: “What is prayer but the promise pleaded. A promise is, so to speak, the raw material of prayer…The promise is the power of prayer…Shall the Lord God Almighty fail in His promise? No, He will move heaven and earth, and shake the universe, rather than be behindhand with His word. Sooner than His promise should fail, He spared not His own Son. Better Jesus die than the word of the Lord be broken. I say again – depend upon it, the Lord means what He says and will make good every syllable.
“…There can never be presumption in humbly believing God; there may be a great deal of it in daring to question His word. We are not likely to err in trusting His promise too far. Our failure lies in want of faith, not in excess of it. It would be hard to believe God too much; it is dreadfully common to believe Him too little.”
Moses and Jeremiah were men who reckoned on God to work. When they prayed they expected God to fulfill His word to them, and He did. God will honor us in the very same way when we pray and intercede, when we trust and expect from God as they did. They even argued with God in prayer, so intent were they concerning the glory of God and the fulfillment of His unbreakable word.
In Numbers 14:13-19 we see Moses in grips with God, pleading for rebellious and stiff-necked Israel. God had previously given Moses a revelation of Himself (Ex. 34:5-7), and in the hour of Israel’s peril, when God threatens to wipe them out (Num. 14:12) and fulfill His promise to Abraham through Moses – “I will...make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they” – Moses will not accept it. He throws himself into the “gap” and contends with God for His own glory, as a long-suffering and a merciful God who cannot fail Himself, and claims the fulfillment of His word. In verses 20 and 21, we see that Moses prevailed with God. Was mortal man ever so favored? “And the Lord said, I have pardoned according to thy word: but as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.”
Jeremiah and Daniel were just such intercessors – men who believed God meant what He said and expected God to fulfill His word (Jer. 14:17-22; Dan. 9). God would have us like these three men in intercession – Moses, Jeremiah and Daniel – and our advantages today are far greater than theirs. We are indwelt by the great intercessory God, who is seeking fellowship with us in this mighty work of intercession.
Shall it be said of us that “I [the Lord] sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before Me for the land…but I found none. Therefore have I poured out Mine indignation...” (Ezek. 22:30-31)?
“Judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Pet. 4:17). The church of God today is in dire need of real intercessors, such as will “weep between the porch and the altar.”
Earnestly Plead God’s Promises
If your burden or your need is not so great as to cause you to raise your voice and “call,” nothing is likely to happen. To be effective our prayers must be direct and forcible.
F. B. Meyer is most emphatic on this subject. We quote from his book, Elijah: “The prayers of Scriptures are all aglow with the white heat of intensity. Remember how Jacob wrestled, and David panted and poured out his soul; the importunity of the blind beggar, and the persistency of the distracted mother; the strong crying and tears of our Lord. In each case the whole being seemed gathered up, as a stone into a catapult, and hurled forth in vehement entreaty. Prayer is only answered for the glory of Christ; but it is not answered unless it be accompanied with such earnestness as will prove that the blessing sought is really needed.
“Ah! What earnestness, pants and throbs on every side! No listless attention! No drowsy eye! No flagging interest! Oh for such violence, guided by holiness, to take the kingdom of heaven by force! Such earnestness is, of course, to be dreaded when we seek some lower boon for ourselves. But when, like Elijah, we seek the fulfillment of the divine promise – not for ourselves, but for the glory of God – then it is impossible to be too much in earnest, or too full of the energy of prayer.”
“The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matt. 11:12).
True prayer means going into God’s presence, by the blood-made way which Christ has prepared for us, pleading God’s promises in a soul-reliance upon God’s faithfulness that He will answer. God’s Word is His revealed will to us, and God has made prayer from our side the condition of His working. He says, “Call… and I will answer” (Jer. 33:3). “Ask,” “That will I do” (John 14:13). If you do not call, nothing will be done.
Adapted from a tract published by Osterhus Publishing House.