Intercession

30th September

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.”

1 Timothy 2:1

Intercession is at the core of God’s heart. Jesus did it for us when He was physically alive on the earth and continues to interceded for us at the right hand of the Father as our Great Intercessor, making petition’s on our behalf, because of His sacrifice. Paul did it for the churches he planted. And we as believers are also challenged here in today’s verse to do the same. So what is intercession?

The historical and political meaning of intercession, according to the Cambridge dictionary, is to make a plead, on someone else’s behalf, to someone of higher authority, so that the person you are interceding for, may be forgiven or saved from punishment. Sound familiar? That is exactly what intercession is. It is pleading to God on behalf of someone, for their healing, spiritually or physically. It is coming to God with whatever burden you feel that the Holy Spirit is revealing to you, to pray for that person. It is standing in the gap for someone when you know they have no strength to pray. It standing alongside someone for their dreams and aspirations, standing in agreement with them. It is asking God for people’s salvation, so that His Kingdom may come on this earth. It is inviting God’s grace and mercy into people’s hearts and situations. It is thanking God for people’s lives.

Prayer is a powerful tool in the armoury of a believer. Intercession is part of that and is strategic in implementing God’s will and His Kingdom here on this earth.

Prayer: Our Primary Source Of Interaction With God

15th June

I love the Lord because He hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath.”

Psalm 116:1-2

God talks to us in many ways, through His Word in written form (the Bible), through His voice, through creation, through prophetic words, and through dreams and visions. These are to name just a few. However our primary source of communicating with God is through prayer. God sent Jesus for that very reason. He wanted to have an intimate and personal relationship with each of His creations. Yet so often we can feel as if we are talking into thin air when we pray or feel discouraged that we might not hear an answer.

Yet God always hears what we have to say. His ears are always attentive to our voice. In fact He loves listening to us. What father when his child speaks would choose to ignore him? What husband when his wife shares her heart would turn away? Our walk with Christ is so relational. He wants to have a loving and fruitful relationship with us. David rightly says in today’s Psalm, that God “hears my voice and my prayer for mercy”. God hears our voice: Period. Furthermore, He even hears our groans and pleas for mercy. Even when we have no hope, or even no words to say, the Spirit intercedes for us and He even prays with us with “groans that cannot be expressed in words” (Romans 8:26).

Yet the highlight or crescendo or today’s verse is found in verse 2, “He bends down to listen”. This is the God we serve. Not a far away god that is not interested in what we have to say. Not a god where we have to earn his attention. We serve a God who bends down to listen to our prayers. This pictorial depiction of God’s loving nature is so deep and intimate. God wants to hear our voice. Do you want to hear His?

King Jehoshaphat’s Response To Trouble

24th August

Jehoshaphat was terrified by this news and begged the Lord for guidance. He also ordered everyone in Judah to begin fasting. So people came from all the towns of Judah came to Jerusalem to seek the Lord’s help.”

2 Chronicles 20:3-4

Throughout the Old Testament we read of good kings that followed God’s laws and honoured Him, and bad kings that set their hearts to worship false idols and form alliances with pagan kingdoms. Today’s story features King Jehoshaphat, a good king. He did make some foolish errors in his time, but was remembered for his good works and his deep fear and love for God. In fact so great was the favour of the Lord on Jehoshaphat’s life, that enemy kingdoms started to fear Judah.

However, there were some enemies that didn’t fear his kingdom, the Moabites, Ammonites and the Meunites. These enemies declared war on Judah and when news reached Jehoshaphat’s ears, fear filled him to the very core. This was no small enemy but an army of hundreds and thousands, hence Jehoshaphat’s reaction.

Yet what was his response? You would expect a God-fearing King to say ‘prepare yourself troops, eat well, get ready for war and do not fear because God is with us‘. Yet he doesn’t do that at all. In fact, he does the opposite. He calls a fast and gets everyone to pray. Why? Because he knew that they could not defeat this enemy without God. He fell to his knees, along with his kingdom, crying out to God to lead and guide them. He re-called all the good things that God had done for them and remembered God’s faithfulness to their nation. Furthermore he humbled himself in complete helplessness knowing that there was nothing he could do in his own strength to win this war…We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help.”

What is our reaction when faced with troubles or situations out of our hands? Do we continue to prepare and try to ‘sort it out’ by ourselves, or do we completely surrender in helpless submission to God, crying out for His help?

Answered Prayer

28th-29th March

Weekend Edition

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

Romans 15:13 (ESV)

Our God is in the business of answering prayers. No prayer is too big, no request too small. A prayer offered in faith, in accordance with His perfect will, WILL BE ANSWERED. There may not be evidence of instantaneous fruit from your prayer but we can rejoice in hope and peace knowing that we believe that it will be done. God is the God of Hope!

I have recently been encouraged by a friend of mine’s belief and hope for an almost impossible prayer request. Yet God is faithful and through a journey we are starting to see the fruit of our laboured prayers. This is not to say that we have to pray to twist God’s arm in submitting to our will but rather in the patience and waiting, we learn to fully trust God and submit to His will. We become aligned with His heart and His desires. We may not always see the positive but we can rest assured that God’s ways are higher than ours and that His will is always perfect. It is in the waiting that our character is formed and in the trusting that are hope and faith are built.

This weekend’s encouragement is to keep hope alive. Keep trusting in God, that He will deliver and answer your prayers. Keep believing and rejoicing in peace and joy and see how God answers you!

God Knows What You Need!!

10th March

 “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, FOR YOUR FATHER KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT YOU NEED EVEN BEFORE YOU ASK HIM! ”

Matthew 6:7-8

How wonderful it is to know, that the creator of the whole world, not only cares for us but knows exactly what our needs and desires are before we even ask. God could be so busy sorting out the needs and problems of the other 7 billion people in this world when you ask Him for something. Yet He purposefully chooses to want to know our personal needs, desires and prayers. God has named YOU, called YOU by name, and will personally provide for all YOUR needs. He is not some busy executive chairman in a highflying company who gets his PA to sort out his employees’ affairs. He personally attends to each one of His children’s needs.

When we come before our Maker and Creator, our standpoint should be this; God knows what we need before we ask Him. Simple. This is not to say that we should not ask Him if He already knows our needs. This is simply to say, that there is no fear, shame, embarrassment in asking God for what we want. Don’t mince your words and don’t babble on. Get to the point. God wants to know that you trust Him enough with your needs that you are willing to ask Him.

Notice that Jesus doesn’t use a far off, impersonal name for God. He uses Father. Why? Because God is our Father and wants to provide personally for us, His children.

Intimate Moments With The Father

9th March

 “But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to you Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”

Matthew 6:6

Some of the most wonderful, intimate times in the presence of the Father are spent alone with Him. No distractions, no one to perform to, just you and God.

Isn’t such a privilege and honour that we can spend time alone with the creator of the universe? God is never too busy for us. God is never engaged. We all can have a personal, private audience with our Father at exactly the same time. A profound statement yet it is so true. Yet the exciting thing is, is that God want a personal audience with you too. Jesus, (who was and is God) encouraged His disciples to go away, shut out any distractions and have personal and private time with the Father.

This wasn’t a far-fetched ideology. Jesus Himself did this when He first started His ministry. He went away into the desert for 40 days and 40 nights, fasting and praying. Paul had 2 years of intimacy and study time with the Father before he started his ministry. Why? Because intimacy with God is essential for spiritual growth. If we are to be effective in our mission on earth, then we must first learn what it means to be intimate with the Father in private. Any relationship we have here on earth needs a measure of time invested into it. We can’t just expect to have an intimate relationship with someone we don’t spend time with. So it is with Jesus. Spend time with Him and your intimacy with Christ will grow.

Empty Words – A Hypocrite’s Language

7-8th March Weekend Edition

“When you pray don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.”

Matthew 6:5

Corporate prayer, when done in the right way, can be so edifying, encouraging and uplifting. Yet there is a stark difference to praying as a united body and praying so everyone can hear your eloquent long speeches to God. The key to an effective prayer, as we talked about yesterday, is asking in faith, believing that you will be answered and be thankful for the response you will receive. An ineffective prayer, is a prayer that is prayed so others can hear what you are saying to make yourself look good and sound clever. This is exactly what Jesus was addressing here in today’s passage. The Pharisees and Scribes, often named as the hypocrites, tended to pray loud, long and wordy prayers, not to enhance their relationship with God but to show off their superior spirituality to others around them. However Jesus directly challenged this attitude and corruption of what prayer really is. He even adds that the only reward for their prayer would be the response they received from the people listening. It may seem harsh but praying in this manner is completely missing what prayer is. There is no use in praying, if you are praying so other people can enjoy your churchy jargon. Prayer is a heart to heart communication with God. Period. Again, that is not to say that praying out loud or corporately is wrong. On the contrary; when in the right context and in purity, honesty and sincerity, corporate prayer can be so powerful and strategic. The issue Jesus challenges is that of an insincere and self-edifying prayer. When you pray, whether corporately or privately, imagine that you are sitting at the very feet of Jesus and having a real conversation with Him and that He is the only one listening.