God’s Power Through Our Intercession
By Rich Carmicheal
One of the privileges of working with the ministry of Herald of His Coming is the opportunity as staff members to read through the articles a number of times as we seek to discern the Lord’s choice of messages and as we proofread the selected material. During this process, the Lord encourages, stirs and challenges our own hearts and, in turn, makes us all the more eager to share the messages with you.
There are times when one particular statement in the paper makes such an impression, I believe that if that one truth was all the paper contained, it would be worth all of the time, effort and money involved in sending it. I believe there is such a statement in this issue. Consider with me the closing line on page one: "Between our impotence and God’s omnipotence intercession is the blessed link."
The statement assumes man’s weakness and powerlessness. This may be more noticeable in our day than ever before. There are greater needs around us than we can even begin to meet. Nations are in crisis, evil and sin are advancing, families are breaking down, individuals are in turmoil, and many in the church are losing their way. No matter how much we may care, we simply do not have the resources in and of ourselves to address the great needs that are all around us, whether in the lives of people near and dear to us, or in the lives of those in far off places.
God’s Unlimited Power
But then we come to the other aspect of the statement – God’s omnipotence. He is all-powerful. "…Power belongs to God" (Psa. 62:11) and His power is without any limit. As A.W. Tozer writes, "Since He has at His command all the power in the universe, the Lord God omnipotent can do anything as easily as anything else. …All the power required to do all that He wills to do lies in undiminished fullness of His own infinite being."
So no matter what the situation, God is able to deal with it. In Him there is always hope! "Ah Lord God! Behold, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by Thy great power and by Thine outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for Thee" (Jer. 32:17). "…All things are possible with God" (Mark 10:27).
Consider national matters, for example. Can God bring spiritual awakening to a country like the U.S.? Absolutely. Can He pour out judgment on a country like this and bring her to her knees? Without any doubt, even in a moment. Nations "are like a drop from a bucket" to Him (Isa. 40:15). He can make a nation great, and He can bring a nation down (Job 12:23). Nothing is too difficult for Him.
And consider the lives of the individuals around you, people who may be unsaved, or backslidden, or in some sort of personal crisis or need. Can God break into their lives and grant whatever is needed? Can He meet their physical, emotional and spiritual needs? Can He fill their lives with encouragement and hope? Can He open the eyes and hearts of the lost and restore the wayward? Can He bind up the brokenhearted and set captives free? Is there any case too difficult for Him? Of course, the answer again is that nothing is too difficult for Him.
So we come to the blessed link between our powerlessness and God’s almighty power. His Word makes it very clear that our God intervenes with His mighty power in response to intercession. He even searches for intercessors in order to work through them (Isa. 59:16; Ezek. 22:30).
A reason why God is so deeply moved by intercession is because at the heart of such prayer is love and concern for the well-being of others. As someone has stated, intercession is "holy, believing, persevering prayer whereby someone pleads with God on behalf of another or others who desperately need God’s intervention."
Christ Jesus Himself is the ultimate Intercessor, and because of His great love, He provides intercession for mankind through the Cross and through His intercessory prayer. On the Cross He "poured out Himself to death, …bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors" (Isa. 53:12). In laying down His life for us, He shows us the very definition of love and intercession, and such love and intercession are to be marks of our lives as well (1 John 3:16-17).
Jesus is also our perfect model for intercessory prayer. His life was, and is, a life of intercession through prayer. A primary example of this is His prayer in John 17 in which He pours out His heart to His Father for the well-being of His disciples and for those who would believe after them, including us! (John 17:9-26). Consider also His intercessor’s heart in His prayer for Peter: "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers" (Luke 22:31-32). And this prayer from the Cross also reveals His intercessor’s heart: "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). Even now Christ is at the right hand of God, interceding for us (Rom. 8:34). He always lives to make intercession (Heb. 7:25).
Other Examples of Intercessors
Although Christ is the ultimate Intercessor, the Bible is filled with examples of people who interceded for others. And in case after case, the Lord was moved by the intercession and answered in powerful ways. Moses, for example, interceded on numerous occasions for judgment against God’s people to be averted (e.g., Num. 21:7). He also held up his hands (with the help of Aaron and Hur) in intercession for Joshua and the men fighting the Amalekites (Ex. 17:9-12).
Other examples of intercessors include Abraham for Abimelech (Gen. 20:7, 17); Isaac for his wife (Gen. 25:21); Samuel for the people of Israel (1 Sam. 7:5, 8); Elisha for his servant (2 Kgs. 6:17); Job for his friends (Job 42:8-10); Ezra for those traveling with him (Ezra 8:21) and for those who had fallen into sin (9:3ff.); Nehemiah for Jerusalem and for the remnant of God’s people in distress (Neh. 1:5-6); Daniel for the city of Jerusalem and for the restoration of God’s people from captivity (Dan. 9:1ff.); the church for Peter (Acts 12:5); Epaphras for the believers in Colossae (Col. 4:12); and Paul for the Jewish people (Rom. 10:1) and for all of the churches.
Some Notable Prayers
Some of the actual prayers recorded in the Bible reveal how intercessors understood the omnipotence of God and the difference He could make through their prayers, even in seemingly impossible situations. For example, King Asa, when Judah faced an army of one million men, prayed: "Lord, there is no one besides Thee to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in Thee, and in Thy name have come against this multitude. O Lord, Thou art our God; let not man prevail against Thee" (2 Chr. 14:11).
Jehoshaphat, when facing overwhelming odds, prayed: "O Lord, the God of our fathers, art Thou not God in the heavens? And art Thou not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Thy hand so that no one can stand against Thee. …We are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on Thee" (2 Chr. 20:6-12; cf. Hezekiah’s prayer in 2 Kings 19:14-19).
The psalmist interceded for corporate revival: "Restore us, O God of our salvation, and cause Thine indignation toward us to cease. …Wilt Thou not Thyself revive us again, that Thy people may rejoice in Thee? Show us Thy lovingkindness, O Lord, and grant us Thy salvation" (Psa. 85:4-7).
And consider Paul’s prayer for believers: "…I bow my knees before the Father, …that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:14-19).
All of these prayers reveal a deep confidence in God’s power available through prayer. And in Paul’s case, not only did he believe that God could answer such a prayer, he went on to declare that God "is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think…" (vv. 20-21). This helps explain why Paul not only prayed for others, but sought intercession on his behalf (e.g., Rom. 15:30; Eph. 6:19; Col. 4:2-4).
We Are Called to be Intercessors
Not only does the Lord provide us with many examples of intercession, He calls us to be intercessors. We are to make "entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings…on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority" (1 Tim. 2:1-2). With all prayer and petition we are to "pray at all times in the Spirit…with all perseverance and petition for all the saints" (Eph. 6:18). We are to "pray for one another," knowing that "the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much" (Jas. 5:16). As Samuel points out, it is a serious thing to not faithfully intercede for others: "As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you…" (1 Sam. 12:23).
Intercession requires time and effort, heart and soul, and at times anguish and tears. As such, we definitely need the encouragement, guidance and empowering of the Holy Spirit. As Paul reminds us, "…The Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words" (Rom. 8:26). Through His leadership and mighty power, may we devote ourselves to greater levels of intercession for nations, churches, and for the dear souls all around us who are in desperate need of God’s intervention. And may we also pray for one another.