So, you want to be, or are already, an intercessor? Intercession is hard. For the most part, it is a very behind-the-scenes ministry, with little recognition and sometimes not a great deal of respect, either. Being on the worship team, preaching, teaching, healing the sick, prophesying, evangelizing – all these are “doing” functions in Christ’s Body, openly seen and acknowledged. True intercession, on the other hand, frequently remains a closet ministry. If it is your calling you desire to do it, but there are times when its invisible nature makes intercession a lonely road to travel.
By definition, intercession is an others-first ministry. While non-intercessors can spend the majority of their prayer life focusing on their own needs and relationship with the Lord, intercessors have the drive to pray about things and people outside themselves – and we are not happy if we aren’t doing so. We must take time for our personal relationship with Jesus just like everyone else, but it is easy to neglect doing so, because we feel so pressed for others. I love to spend intimate time with the Lord, but I have to remind myself that it is OK to take that time, the desperate urgency to obtain answers to prayer being so uppermost in my mind.
Intercessors are prone to struggling with self-worth, because usually we do not see immediate, tangible results for our efforts. Because it is not a visible ministry most of the time, we don’t often get pats on the back. Sometimes we are even criticized by other people for not “doing” anything for the Lord. To top it all off, the devil tempts us with, “Is prayer really accomplishing anything?” “Maybe if I didn’t pray, this would all work out fine anyway,” and “I don’t feel needed.” (The demonic jamming of our thoughts, by the way, is because intercession is so important, and Satan will do his utmost to derail it.)
Yet, our Father in heaven sees our ministry as essential to the success of the Church. Two persons of the Godhead, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, operate in the ministry of intercession.
Romans 8:26, 27 – Likewise the Spirit also helps our weaknesses: for we don’t know what we should pray for as we ought to, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because he intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Romans 8:34 – … It is Christ who died, yes, and is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who intercedes for us.
Hebrews 7:25 – … He [Jesus] is able also to save them to the uttermost that come to God by him, seeing he ever lives to intercede for them.
If two-thirds of the Trinity are involved in intercession, it must be a pretty important ministry! If it’s good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me!
Self-denial is a basic requirement for intercessors. We do it for others … for others … for others. The deeper we go in the intercessory life, the more God will confront us with areas of our hearts that we are still holding back for ourselves. This is serious business. The Apostle Paul, himself an intercessor, said, “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31), and this is the testimony of those who embrace intercession in modern times as well. As we yield ourselves to the Lord in prayer, He works humility within us. The refining process is necessary, but never fun.
Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual