Barb's Space

Observations about life, family, church...anything else that is on my mind from the perspective that God rules, no matter what

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Location: Indianapolis, IN, United States

I am a 65 year young woman who has changed much in the last few years. I'm single again. I changed jobs twice (learned new skills), had a serious stroke in 2008, "retired" and after getting better started taking up new interests, and am continuing to get more fit. Some things have matured. I've enjoyed watching my three guys grow into men I respect and am proud of. One waited 11 years to have his first birth child. Today I'm a grandma of six (four boys and 2 girls between two families)! I have learned to love Jesus even more, and I have regained my sense of adventure. Someone said, "The best is yet to be."--I believe it, if I keep an open mind and heart and keep growing and walking with God.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Intervention of Intercessory Prayer

I wrote this article on my web page some time ago, and believe it fits us now. I hope it is a blessing.

Intercession is a vital ministry in the body of Christ. I want to discuss its importance in any work God has established. I have learned that a Christian work must operate from a very consistent, solid Holy Spirit-directed base of prayer. That can only be accomplished by having humble people with strong intercessory prayer giftings either in charge or close to the top. If the director is not an intercessor, he or she must understand its importance, that it is not "window dressing," but the very avenue the Lord by His Spirit uses to set the direction and even the atmosphere of the work. These prayer warriors in turn must lead the rest of the workers into prayer that zeroes in on God's heart for the work and the people He sends there. This kind of prayer does not come from our minds, but from actively waiting on the Lord to reveal His strategy.

Why is this kind of prayer so necessary? Using the works I have been involved in at a local Crisis Pregnancy Center and a Christian-based homeless shelter as an example, God's enemy has worked quite hard to get these women and children into a position where he has almost destroyed them, and he has no intention of giving up easily. His purpose is to target the family so that godly children will not be raised up to hold up God's standard, testify to His reality, and help bring others out of their prisons of sin. Many of these women who are pregnant without marriage or hurting from abusive marriages and/or severe drug/alcohol addictions are already familiar with the church and its claims. Yet this familiarity has not impacted them with God's reality as much as it has with the doctrines of the church.

The Bible explains that the letter of the law without the Spirit kills. Doctrines without the life of God only lead to legalism and its fruit of self-righteousness, or rebellion and its fruit of lawlessness. This ungodly fruit from exposure to church delights the enemy. He doesn't mind our talking about the Lord. The only thing he fights with everything he's got is a person's or a work's living the revelation in such a way that the reality of God convicts those who hear. Intercession can break through that "wall of unreality" that causes the Word to be ineffectual. This allows the Holy Spirit to minister the living Truth of God that is Jesus and the revelation of God's Word through the convicting power of the Holy Spirit in a life-giving way that can transform those who are willing to hear with their hearts.

Intercession can also keep the enemy from defeating the workers. Oftentimes the workers are attacked both by external circumstances and divisiveness to prevent the demonstration of the reality of the gospel. Only Spirit-led intercession can cut through these attacks. Only consistent, honest, in-depth intercession can build up the spiritual protection needed to keep a work functioning in such a way that the Holy Spirit can bring lasting fruit that remains.

Another way in which intercession helps a Christian work is to keep God-given methods and understanding (even of God and His ways of working with those we serve) from being applied in the flesh. It is very easy in areas commonly labeled "social work" to apply principles with our minds. I have learned if I do not pray and intercede for each client I deal with that things fall flat. No matter how much "truth" I share, it becomes "dead letter."

I have discovered that even as a Christian I can do "fleshly" social work, and that Christian social work done in the flesh gets fleshly, not godly, results. To help hurting people, I must not try to diagnose the needs myself, but must remember I am constantly dependent on the Lord to discern and minister to the needs of the people. If I minister in my own strength, I also experience "burn out" very quickly. Additionally, I find myself defending "my" authority. If, however, I am prayed up, I find I don't have to keep my distance from the clients to maintain my authority. The authority God wants me to have is given and maintained by the Holy Spirit as it's needed.

It has been my joy to participate where humble Holy Spirit-led intercession is carried out on a consistent basis day in and day out. As each worker regularly practices sincere, in-depth prayer with another worker as she comes on her shift, a fervency for the Lord and a bond of love and genuine caring for the other workers, the work itself, and the clients is built. It becomes so tangible that it is felt. The love and respect grows between workers and the leadership as they bare their hearts before each other and the Lord. As the oil of the Holy Spirit flows through such a workplace, relationships between leadership and staff flow smoothly in a unified direction. This attitude of caring, love, respect, and deep concern is "caught" by the clients because eventually it becomes part of the "atmosphere" of the place, and it allows the Holy Spirit to soften hearts to be receptive to the living seed of the gospel.

God says the prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16). He tells us to pray without ceasing (1Thess 5:17), and by prayer and supplication let our requests be made known to Him (Phil 4:6). In the Bible He speaks of a serious time, and of what is needed to bring His deliverance into situations (this was spoken to Israel, a nation that knew God to the greatest extent of any nation at that point in time): Isa 59:15-18 (TLB) 15Yes, truth is gone, and anyone who tries a better life is soon attacked. The Lord saw all the evil and was displeased to find no steps taken against sin. 16He saw no one was helping you and wondered that no one intervened (KJV: that there was no intercessor). Therefore He Himself stepped in to save you through His mighty power and justice. Intercession, according to the Encarta� World English Dictionary � & (P) 1999 Microsoft Corporation, is defined as 1. interceding: the action of pleading on somebody�s behalf 2. trying to resolve conflict: the action of attempting to settle a dispute 3. prayer or petition: prayer to God ...on behalf of somebody or something.

Intercession, then, according to both the Bible and the dictionary is a form of intervention and mediation between people and sin, and people and God when sin (or danger) is involved. It takes a righteous person who is convinced God hears to stand in the gap between man and sin so that God's purposes can be accomplished. It is more important than any program or methodology we could use, and it alone will bring God and His creative life into the situation. My experience working with people who know the power of intercession has demonstrated its value. It sets all my work into proper perspective as I realize I cannot solve thorny problems with my understanding. It is not only understanding that brings change, but heart transformation, and that is only accomplished by the Lord. I pray the Lord put an urgency within His people, that we would learn His truths of intercession and how to hear His heart so as to be instruments He can use to transform others with His life.

1 Great Ideas:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

lovely post,
at times when my wife and i are deeply crying out to the Lord and His answer or action seems hidden from our view, that "atmosphere" envelopes us in a sense of peace and clarity. then we can see that His Mighty Hand has done so much already, we are compelled to be His servant and do His Will.

August 20, 2009 10:19 AM

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