Are you called to be an Intercessor?

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.

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Gifts of the Holy Spirit in Prayer and Intercession

Holy-Spirit fireReaders, please notice a new Page titled Gifts of the Holy Spirit in Prayer and Intercession.

This is a series of teachings given during a Sunday School class titled Principles of Prayer and Intercession.

You will need to click on the Page and its menu for individual posts, as they are not automatically distributed via email to subscribers.

I will do my best to update the Page as new material is addressed in class. Please let me know if you have questions about any of these posts, or if you would like to read notes from our previous classes on Prayer and Intercession.

 

God’s joy, my strength

FilledWithJoyWomanNoBirthdayMessageThe article below about Joy was originally posted on December 28, 2011.

2011 was a hard year for me. In January 2011 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Most of that year was then spent undergoing chemotherapy, mastectomy, and radiation therapy.

I had serious side effects to all of those, including pretty bad radiation burns that cut short the number of those sessions. I published a personal diary of those adventures at the time, and some since then. (www.BettesJournal.wordpress.com)

The Lord told me clearly at the beginning of these adventures to “put the unbelievers out of the room.” He meant, for me not to talk about the diagnosis to everyone, only to Christians who truly believed God’s word – who truly  believed what Jesus said in John 10:10. I have an enemy out to kill me, who wants to steal my health and destroy my faith. But Jesus has come to give me life! Abundant life!

And so I didn’t tell many folks about the diagnosis or that blog, only several like-minded Christian friends who knew how to intercede according to the scriptures. No wishy-washy, 50-50 chance, fearful, doubtful, uncertain prayers were wanted. I got some of that kind nevertheless, but I also got many life-filled, love-filled, faith-confirming intercessory prayers too. Those were worth their weight in gold, believe me.

2011 was spent in a lot of Bible study, reading, and watching hundreds of miracle videos, preaching and teaching from evangelists, pastors, revivalists. It was spent filling my mind and soul and spirit with God. With his creative power, his life, his healing.

I didn’t publish many blog posts that year and ended the year with the post that follows: God’s joy, my strength. It was true then, it’s true now.

December 28, 2011

James 1:2 says “Consider it pure joy, my brethren, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” (NIV)

That verse doesn’t say that whatever is going on will feel joyful. Trials don’t feel joyful but despite that, we should act as though they did. It will strengthen our faith (and will certainly drive the enemy crazy too!)

Well, I know by my own experience that that’s easier said than done. This lesson is for me.

John 14:1 – Jesus said “Let not your heart be troubled.” If Jesus said for us to do it, then we can do it. It is our job to prevent our heart from worrying.

Here’s one way: consider whatever is troubling us in the light of his power. His power, not ours. With the Holy Spirit living in us we can do it. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13)

John 15:11 – Jesus said “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” Can you imagine Jesus being joyful? Obviously he was. Luke 10:21 tells us that Jesus “rejoiced in the Spirit,” because he had sent out the seventy to minister in his name and they had returned successful.

What had he told the disciples? Here are some of those things:

  • John 15:7 – “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you.”
  • John 16:24, “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”
  • John 16:23 – “My father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”
  • John 8:31-32, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Set you free in the Greek means to ‘free you’, make you delivered, at liberty, free from bondage. Many people misquote those verses by leaving out the first sentence. But it’s a prerequisite for the second sentence — only if you are really a disciple of Jesus, holding to his teachings, will you know the truth and be made free.

Nehemiah 8:10 says “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” Not your joy, God’s joy. They could be strong now because God was joyful over them. He wanted them to be joyful too!

The people had returned from years of captivity in Babylon. On this day they were assembled in Jerusalem to hear God’s word read for the first time in a long time, and as they heard and understood it they began to weep.

But Ezra and Nehemiah told them not to weep, not to mourn but to celebrate. This was a sacred day! They were being given back their lineage, their family tree and the temple itself. They were moving back into and living in the city of Jerusalem as their home. They could once again worship in God’s temple. God was joyful about that!

Zephaniah 3:19 says, “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” (KJV)

Some of these words have interesting definitions in the original language:

Save:  Deliver, defend, rescue, avenge; to be open, wide, free, safe.
Rejoice:  To be bright, cheerful, glad; make mirth.
Joy (noun):  Glee, mirth, pleasure, gladness.
Joy (verb):  To spin around, rejoice.
Rest: To keep silent (secrecy); to let alone. God’s love keeps our sins hidden. What a wonderful thought!
Love:  Affection.
Singing:  Shout, cry, a creaking or shrill sound, triumph. This isn’t a sweet harmonious melody, this is the shout of the warrior, the triumphant battle cry.

Can you imagine Father God being full of this kind of joy? Twirling around and shouting in triumph over his people? He did, and he still does.

In John 17:13, as Jesus faced his arrest and crucifixion, he prayed this for the disciples: “… that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus, “for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross.” That was some kind of joy!

Despite the ordeal facing him, that wasn’t a prayer born out of grief but triumph! God’s joy is triumphant, a mirth-filled celebration of victory no matter what the circumstances look like.

That’s God’s joy; Jesus’ joy!

I certainly need it. We all need it and we can have it — it’s one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22) Let it grow, let it grow, let it grow!

I’m whistling up my sheep

16 Jan 2016

“I’m whistling up my sheep,” the Lord said to me this morning.

Lying in bed about 5:00 AM, not quite ready to get up, I asked the Lord to talk to me. (Last night I had gone to sleep so quickly that I didn’t even pray much.)

That was his answer. “I’m whistling up my sheep from all over the world.”

Then he showed me, scene by scene, masses of people being born again. In Iceland. Greenland. Lapland. The Gobi desert. Afghanistan. The Russian Steppes. China. South Africa. Indonesia. Kuwait. The continents, the island nations, small and large.

And on, and on, and on. Lost people responding to the prayers of found people, their hearts are waking up to desire God, to hunger for the true God. They are seeking Him and they are finding.

“If they have never heard the gospel, a way will be made for them to know it. They are entering the kingdom by twos, and threes, by two thousands, and three thousands. My sheep are coming in.”

I suddenly began to see faces, nations – black, white, red, yellow, brown, every shade of every skin color. Oriental. Pacific Islanders. Asians. European. Scandinavian. Native Americans. South American. First People.

Then I heard the whistle, like a boy calling his dog, or a coach calling his team, or a shepherd calling his sheep. The Shepherd is calling His sheep, and they are coming.

I realized – those who he is calling were not yet born again when he began whistling. The whistling is in response to the intercessions of his obedient born-again ones. As they pray and decree what the Shepherd wishes, he carries out those wishes.

And so he is whistling up his sheep. Whew. I can see those faces, hear those whistles. Multitudes are coming into the kingdom.

(See Zechariah 10:8)

Weapons don’t wield themselves

GodsWeaponsMadeForYou“The worst thing the enemy can do to a believer in Jesus is to send him home to heaven early.”

Why doesn’t God stop him in his tracks?

It’s obvious that the enemy of our faith is at work in the world, sometimes very close to where we live. We wonder why he seems to be getting away with so many murderous acts, causing so much chaos, turmoil and tragedy.

Reminders of several basic facts:

  • War is being waged for control of this planet, control of the people who live on the planet, and eradication of the people inhabited by the Creator of the planet.
  • God gave control of this planet to human beings. Stopping the enemy is our job. We’re not doing a very good job of it, but it’s still our responsibility.
  • It’s not an even fight, the sides aren’t even close to equal – but you’d never know that from the way some folks act. Or don’t act.
  • We are the conquerors!

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39 NIV, emphasis added.)

God’s goal:

  • “(God our Savior) who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (I Tim. 2:4)
  • “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9)
  • God made a way for that to  happen: “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

The devil’s goal:

His goal is to destroy the things God loves above all – people, human beings created in His image. To do that, the enemy will try to:

  • Kill every human being he can, Christians or not
  • Prevent every human being he can from becoming Christians
  • Prevent every Christian he can from bringing other human beings to Christ

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (I Peter 5:8-9)

Well, the enemy himself is not flesh and blood. He just stirs up flesh and blood to perform as his willing servants, or as his unwitting instruments.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph. 6:12)

Stopping particular people the enemy is using will not stop him from picking other people to use. We should indeed do whatever we can to stop (or prevent) attacks by those people. But that’s certainly not all – we should also:

Learn how to fight the real enemy:

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:4-5)

Changing the mind and heart of the person is the only answer to shutting out the enemy from using that person to do evil. Praying, sharing God’s Word, God’s kind of love and life (living the gospel), displaying a God-filled life, are steps toward that change.

“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” (2 Tim. 2:24-26)

You can shout and yell at people, but that won’t make them listen. You can shout and yell at the devil, but that won’t make him listen either.

Only taking authentic authority over him will work to stop his activity. And first you have to know he’s real, and that he’s really the one behind the evil actions.

“God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

“Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, ‘In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.’

“Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?’ Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.” (Acts 19:11-16)

Weapons of war:

Acknowledge that YOU have been given spiritual weapons. Know what they are and learn how they work. Recognize who is actually behind the evil activity you see. Ask God what to do about it and listen for his reply. The Holy Spirit will tell you what to do. Some weapons at our disposal include:

  • Spiritual armor. (Eph. 6:10-18) This includes defensive and offensive equipment. “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Eph. 6:11) “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) Withstand and resist are the same Greek word.
  • Gifts of the Holy Spirit. (I Cor. 12) We need supernatural information, wisdom on how to make use of it, faith, miracles, healing.
  • Discerning of spirits. (I Cor. 12) We especially need to know whether the wicked behavior is caused by human or evil spirits. Believers can exercise authority over evil ones, but human spirits require other approaches.
  • The Word of God. (Hebrews 4:12) Knowing it’s in the Bible isn’t going to help if you don’t know the scripture itself. Study. Learn. Get it in your memory banks.
  • Prayer and intercession. (I Tim. 2:1-2) Ask specific requests, based on knowledge of the scriptures and who you are in Christ, being led by the Holy Spirit as you ask.
  • Love and forgiveness are powerful weapons. “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.” (Luke 6:27-28) Remember, the kindness of God leads men to repentance. (Romans 2:4)
  • Your own testimony. “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” (Rev. 12:11)
  • Spiritual authority. (Matt. 28:18-20) Jesus told the disciples to do what he had been doing, and to teach others to do the same things. That includes you and me. He gave us this authority because he knew we were going to need it.

Matthew 18:20 says, “Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” And “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” (Mark 16:20) Note: signs won’t confirm God’s word that isn’t preached, taught, or spoken.

  • Stand firm in the faith. Having done all to stand, stand. Stand firm. (Eph. 6:13)
  • Pray in faith, speak in faith. “Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.” (James 5:17-18)

If you look up those events in I Kings 17 and 18, you see that Elijah didn’t actually pray about the rain stopping and starting – he just spoke about the rain. Whatever praying he did, he did beforehand, surely to ask the Lord for instructions on what to do next.

  • Don’t waver back and forth in doubt, hoping for the best. “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” (James 1:6-7)
  • Confidently expect results. “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Heb. 4:16) “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us — whatever we ask — we know that we have what we asked of him.” (I John 5:14-15)

Weapons don’t wield themselves:

The problem is, too many Christians think all this is automatic –  that they don’t have to be on their guard, don’t have to put on any armor, don’t have to exercise authority, don’t have to resist the devil, don’t have to pray for their enemies, don’t have to share the gospel, in other words, they don’t have to wield any weapons.

It’s as if they think, Let the preacher do it, let the missionaries do it, I don’t have to do it myself.  They may pay a high price for that mistaken belief.

Also see: https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/armored-front-and-back/

Intercession, one definition

This week as I was thinking about intercession and how it’s different from other types of prayer, the Holy Spirit spoke clearly and distinctly to me.

“Interceding is My interfering with the schemes of the enemy.”

It’s God’s method to scotch the devil’s activities on earth. Prevention, intervention, substitution, whatever is needed for the situation. God’s way of throwing monkey wrenches into the devil’s designs.

It is not just praying what God says to pray, although it includes that. It is speaking what God says to speak – to the enemy, to circumstances, to your own spirit / soul / body, to other people (their spirit / soul / body), to whatever.

It’s different from petitions, which may be our own desires and needs for ourselves, our family or friends. That’s certainly not prohibited, it’s encouraged. It’s just not all there is to prayer.

Relax, be watchful, be mindful, be ready to take advantage of every opportunity to be God’s eyes, ears, hands, mouth, or monkey-wrench.

Under cover of darkness

FireworksIowaJimaMonumentIn recent weeks I have experienced a peculiar sadness, an unexplained grief in my spirit off and on.

No matter what else I was doing – housework, grocery shopping, reading – I would begin to feel grief-stricken, as though something really bad had happened somewhere, or was getting ready to.

I was 14 the first time this happened, June 16, 1957 when my great grandmother Mary Emily Dunnahoe Springs died. I didn’t know her really, had only visited her once or twice with my grandmother. I knew she’d been bedridden because of a broken hip for years, but had no idea she was sick otherwise.

Spending the summer at my grandparents’ farm in Effingham, I had just gone to bed when suddenly a horrible sadness come over me for no reason. I was wondering what on earth was wrong with me when the phone rang and my grandmother Mimi went to answer it. Mimi was upset and tearful when she came to tell me that her mother had just died. All I knew to do was pray.

Over the years that negative sensation has occasionally washed over me without any known cause. I’ve learned to pray whenever it comes, pray until the feeling subsides. Soon afterwards I usually learn that something bad or sad has happened, sometimes to a person I’m close to, sometimes not. Sometimes I never hear of anything bad happening, nothing I can point to, anyway.

This time, July the 4th kept popping up in my thoughts. The closer it got to that day, the stronger the sad feelings got. Each time I asked the Lord to show me who and what to pray for, and as they came to mind I’d intercede for those people, places and things.

The morning of the 4th the grief was still there. It was like waiting for another shoe to fall. The news on television and online wasn’t much different than in recent days. Middle East turmoil. Protests about illegal immigrants in California. Bad weather, like  Hurricane Arthur that was traveling up the eastern seaboard.

As the unsettled, grief-struck emotions rose and fell during the morning, I considered it a call to intercession. I prayed for every person, every situation that came to mind, from the President to the Israeli government to my own family. I included the hurricane.

Then — just after 2:30 PM eastern time, the grief instantly vanished, as if it had never been there. It didn’t just die down, diminish and eventually disappear. It was just gone.

What’s going on, Lord, I asked. Has something dreadful happened? In my family or among my friends? Something else, somewhere in the United States? In the Middle East? Or — perhaps was something dreadful prevented from happening, by the prayers of your people?

Doing an online search of national and international media this morning (both secular and Christian), I found no mention of a disaster or tragedy that was particularly unusual.

Wondering if anyone else (or how many others) had perceived the same sort of sadness in the spirit, I did an online search for “prophetic warnings.”

It didn’t take long to discover a wide variety of websites and blog posts. Some Christians are feeling quite positive and upbeat, despite the usual “bad news” in the nation and the world. They believe a revival is just ahead for the United States, and that everything is soon going to be okay, politically, economically, and spiritually.

Some are confident that their personal prayers are about to be answered for themselves and their family, about their health, financial situations, marital problems, you name it.

I also found some who like me have felt a sense of grief. They agree that a worldwide revival has already begun (and it has), that an outpouring of the Holy Spirit is imminent for America, but that a tragedy is also very likely ahead for the United States. They are calling for continued intercession, that the Lord will intervene and show mercy to America.

Okay Lord, I asked, who is right? Here’s what he showed me.

Under cover of celebration last night, while spectacular fireworks were being admired from coast to coast, explosions of a spiritual sort were taking place in cities from Washington to L.A., Chicago to Houston, Seattle to Miami.

A nationwide spiritual battle has been joined. Under cover of apathy, complacency, distraction and spiritual ignorance, the enemy of Christ is flooding in. They are arriving in greater numbers than ever before, spreading to infiltrate every corner of American society.

They are not invisible to the Lord. “We are not ignorant of his devices,” the apostle Paul said. The Holy Spirit sees what he is up to. He will inform God’s warriors that their fervent prayers are needed.

Sometimes that call to intercession is perceived like grief, he said, sometimes like desperation, sometimes like rage. It won’t feel pleasant when it comes, but intercession will be needed more and more in the days ahead, if America is to be rescued. God’s desire is to rescue our nation.

One more warning:  It’s going to take American churches filled with prayer warriors equipping themselves with God’s armor, instead of spiritual toddlers taking naps – spiritual boot camps, not kindergartens.