Several weeks ago I asked our Intercessory Prayer Sunday School class, How many of you feel called to be an Intercessor? Some raised their hands, some didn’t.
One member said, I don’t have that gift, and I said, It’s not a gift, it’s a calling. I didn’t expand on that statement then but I’d like to do it now, with another question:
How do you know if you’re called to be an Intercessor?
In the beginning of my adventures with Jesus (1972) and the Holy Spirit (1974) I didn’t start out to be an Intercessor, or even much of a pray-er. I started out to be just a student of the Bible. And then to be a teacher of the Bible. And then to be a better student, and a better teacher.
Along the way I began to make prayer lists. After all, I figured that was what every good Christian did. Occasionally I wrote those prayers down in notebooks, which I still have today.
Reading back through those lists it’s easy to see that some prayers were answered, some weren’t. Some answers were almost instant and some were gradual, but some never came. Why?
Discouragement began to plague my prayer time as I tried to understand – What had I done wrong? What had I prayed wrong? So I went back to being a student of the Bible, seeking answers to those questions.
After a while I realized that my interests were changing. I wasn’t interested in reading the same sort of books (murder mysteries and spy novels), or watching the same sort of television programs (cop shows) as I had been. Now, that wasn’t intentional, but gradually the use of my time shifted.
More and more of my time was being spent in seeking the Lord, studying the Bible, asking the Holy Spirit for wisdom, understanding, and information – answers to those “What” questions.
And then I discovered I John 5:14-15… “This is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”
Over a span of some years I discovered more and more of my time was being spent in praying for other people. Family, friends, and strangers. Believers yes, but many non-believers. Prayers for Mercy! My focus was shifting.
More time was being spent online reading reports of the Lord’s work around the globe. News from missionaries, revivalists, ordinary Christian people in Turkey, Libya, Egypt, Israel, Australia, Philippines, Russia, China, Japan – and many others.
Also news reports from mainline media, some Christian, some secular, in the United States and overseas. Reports of events, happenings, situations, chaos, conflicts, disasters, often accompanied by prayer requests from Christians and non-Christians. Many requests for prayer kept showing up in my emails and news feeds.
Pretty much automatically, I found myself praying and praying and praying as I read. Asking the Lord to inspire my prayers, to pray His will through my prayers!
Eventually it became evident that He had answered that particular prayer. He had implanted his desires right in the middle of my desires. Like, other drivers being annoying? Unsafe? “Pray mercy for them,” says the Holy Spirit. “You may be the only person on earth who will pray for them.”
Hitchhikers, bike riders, pedestrians along the road? “Pray they will encounter my presence, my compassion, my mercy,” says the Holy Spirit. Snarky people on Facebook? “Pray mercy for them,” says the Holy Spirit again. “They need Me, not a holier-than-thou attitude.”
A name suddenly pops into your mind? “Pray for them,” says the Holy Spirit. “They need a prayer right now.”
I began researching intercession and the authority of the believer in prayer, and what the scriptures have to say about all that. Wow. Prophetic intercession, prophetic worship, intercessory worship, there’s still a lot to learn! I’m still learning.
Well, being an Intercessor wasn’t what I started out to be. But it’s what the Lord started: an additional assignment. A calling.
Could I tell him No, I don’t want to do this? Certainly. I could refuse to spend my time this way, he wouldn’t send me to hell because of it. He might make me miserable… because my joy is to do what the Lord wants! To go where he wants, do what he wants, say what he wants, and pray what he wants.
See, some years ago I did say No to the Lord. In an unhappy state, I decided that if I just quit teaching the Bible things would get better. I would be happier. So I quit teaching and I quit reading my Bible and I quit praying.
Guess what happened? “Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.” (Jer. 20:9) I was miserable!
Thankfully that phase didn’t last long and soon I returned to what I knew He wanted for me. Now this is what he wants for me.
How about you? Are you called to be an Intercessor? If you are, the Lord will show you. It may or may not be an instant revelation, but your focus will shift, your interests will change, and your use of time will be different.