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May 22, 2007 at 22:18
Category: Centering on Christ, Prophetic, Intercession

By: Steve Hill

Two items recently dropped into my inbox.  One was  Flakey Intercession by Alice Smith leader of the World Prayer Center. It talks about "competition", "emotionalism" and "inappropriate behavior" amongst intercessors in their prayer rooms. The other was an announcement of another 40 day prayer and fasting initiative to "reverse the moral decline of America and release revival".
Questioning intercession is like speaking against motherhood but here we go!  First of all, the analysis of the problems pointed out  in "Flaky Intercession" simply does not go deep enough!  The question is not about "flaky" but about "intercession" itself!

Question Number One:
Where in the New Testament is intercession given as a specific ministry or spiritual gift?  The word "intercession" is used in Romans 8:26- 27 and refers to the Holy Spirit making "intercession" for us.  Romans 8:34 and Hebrews 7:25  refer to Jesus who "makes intercession for us".  Three appearances of the term and all referring to the action of God on our behalf!  That is it!
Why do we create a ministry of intercession and call some people intercessors?   If it is not in the New Testament where does it come from?   Further, why is the literature of the Catholic mystics part of encouraged reading for schools of intercession?  Maybe the "ministry of intercession" comes from an old religious understanding of special priesthood and is for those who are "more spiritual"?
I would not want those who are competing for air time and positions in the "prayer room" praying for me!   This has become another arena of "ministry" where people strive for position and recognition.  It has become another reason for folks to stay inside the four walls to avoid the tough obedience of actually loving and serving people.

Reality Number One:
We are all royal priests.  We intercede.  That is what priests do!  There is no ministry of intercession or gift of intercession since that is what we are all called to do.  Prayer "without ceasing" is our lifestyle.  To create a super spiritual class called "intercessors" will create the "flakey" factor simply because there is no such class in the Kingdom.  
Question Number Two:
Why do we need one more prayer and fasting event?  What was the fruit of all the others?    For years, we have been told that if we would pray more, revival will come.  Revival has not come.  How much prayer is enough?  Will one more event be enough?  Two more?  This is religious striving and performance!
Why has prayer become an event where success is judged by how many got together?    The culture keeps declining so we cannot judge by the fruit so we judge by the numbers?   And in the case of 24/7 prayer success is simply getting enough people together to make it happen?
As we have asked in a previous letter,  what happened to James 5: 16 where  "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."?  Is our faith in the numbers we can get praying? That is Muslim faith!  Or is our faith in the Intercessor who made intercession for us on the cross?

Reality Number Two:
Jesus said that prayer was an activity like giving or fasting, which, if done in secret,  God would reward openly!  Jesus consistently and vehemently attacked the religious crowd of His day for their public displays of spirituality.  It makes me very uncomfortable when leaders make sure we know how many hours they spend praying or  how many days they spend fasting.  Jesus would say (Matthew 6:5)  that they already "have their reward"!
Matthew 6:6 is a  command to pray in secret.  It is not a suggestion.  Matthew 5:16 is also a command to "Let your light so shine before men so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven."  
To the vast majority of western culture the church is simply irrelevant and the more we pursue intercessory experiences, Catholic mysticism and other expressions of new age spirituality which is "spiritual experience" divorced from practical obedience and service, the more irrelevant we become.
Our culture sees us protesting.  They may even see our huge prayer events.  Do they see us serve?  And do they see us serve in a way that causes them to glorify our Father in heaven?

And the wonderful things is that where Christians are simply doing the commands of Jesus, they are seeing powerful expansion of the Kingdom of God.   According to Dave Garrison, in  "Church Planting Movements", one of the characteristics of  these moves of God is that they have limited exposure to outside influences.  I trust that this isolation continues so that they do not  become paralyzed by our  twin errors of prayer as a special ministry or a special event.  May they continue to walk out the lifestyle of intercession and sacrificial service!  May we find grace to imitate them!

Who you are in secret is who you really are!
Serving the least is serving Jesus!
The gospel only has power as it is declared!
Steve & Marilyn

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