Why are some of our prayers unanswered?
Are there standards when praying or are there any principles when you come before the Lord?
What really is an intercessory prayer?
These are few among many questions that runs through my mind before I learned about intercessory praying…when I started to pray for others; eliminating those ‘selfish prayers’.
Thank God, He directed me to come across Sadhu Sundhar Selvaraj’s message to the Philippine Intercessors entitled “Art of Intercession.“
Here it goes since I also wanted to share it to you.
“Art of intercession (equipping)”
After you have been sanctified and prepared by the Lord, the third step after you have been prepared and commissioned in the royal priesthood is to know the duties of the priests. We learn that priests should offer sacrifices.
Intercession is not simply praying. It is an art that can be cultivated, that can be learned through practice and there are kinds of approach before God. The reason why I use the word art is because you cannot just simply learned it through any textbook, of course you can learn some principles from textbooks or from teachings like this but you take the principles and you need to tell-a-make it (?) to suit your personality and the Holy Spirit will come like a great friend and use your personality to teach you how to mold, find tune the art to walk with God.
Not all spirituality is the same. We have different levels. You may be greater than me. So when you approach God, you approach in a different level, and when I approach God in a different level. But when we apply the principles, it can be applied base on how we know God, how we walk with God. No two people’s lifestyles or character are the same. Since we’re not the same, you cannot copy my method. What works for me will not work for you. What works for one nation will not work for another nation because every people group has different culture, different lifestyle, and different way of thinking, what is black to me may not be black to you. You may have a different name for it. However biblical principles can be applied to all across the world.
An intercession is always a prayer that you do for others, very simple. It is a prayer, or a supplication or a pleading or a travailing that you do for others. It is not something that you do for yourself. When you do it for yourself, that’s not intercession. You can’t say, “I’m interceding for myself.” Some people do that you know, they call themselves intercessors, they go to intercessory prayer meeting and they end up praying for themselves.
Intercessory prayer is always for others. Why is it sometimes when you’re praying for others, it takes a long time for the answer to manifest? You may have found that you’re praying for your parents or your spouses or your children or for something and it seems that it’s not been answered at all. It takes a long time. The reason why it takes a long time because it involves another person’s will. God will not overrule a person’s will. Some people are quick to submit themselves; some are so stubborn like an ox that it requires them time to really bend and to become submissive to the work of the Holy Spirit. Once a person’s will become submissive to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit talk to them. So the prayers of intercession for another person will help that person to submit their will to God.
How do we engage in the attitude of intercession so that we can intercede correctly?
Intercession comes with 1 Hebrew and 3 Greek words:
1. ‘paga’ (Hebrew) means come and fall upon .
Numbers 16:20-23 tells us that when the people of Israel murmured against Moses and they were gossiping and backbiting and the anger of the Lord began to break out among the people and the judgment of God is about to be poured out. As soon as Moses and Aaron saw that, they fell on their faces. They frustrated themselves on the ground before the Lord interceding for Israel.
So the first definition here of intercession is “frustrating ourselves before God and crying out to Him.”
Physical acts are very important. You can stand and pray, you can walk and pray, you can jump up and pray, you can pray in your bathroom, you can pray while driving, you can pray anytime. However, there are certain principles, certain rules of prayer, of coming before God–protocol; this is the way to come before the Almighty God. You cannot do it any other way.
So the first is to fall upon your face before God and crying out to Him.
2. ‘Enteuxis’ (Greek) means meeting within conversation with a partition. To meet with someone, you communicate with them with a partition in your hand like you bring a partition before a person and you communicate with the person, pleading on the person base on your partition.
In Genesis 18:23-33 when the Lord God came to Abraham and told him He was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, look at the attitude and the way Abraham approach God, it was like a very friendly conversation between two friends. The bible says Abraham draw near to God and he talked with God like a bride would talk with the bridegroom. And as soon as God heard those words of loving-kindness, of compassion from his friend, He said, “All right Abraham, just for your sake I will not do that.” and that motivated Abraham, “…Lord what about 45, 40…35…?” He went on talking. In this particular incident, it is a conversation, a meeting between two friends.
Now this is the reason why I told you earlier it is an art because you must know the mood of God. And knowing the mood of God only then you can approach Him in the kind of a manner where you can approach. If He comes like a king, then you cannot talk to Him like a friend. That method won’t work. When He comes like a friend, don’t talk to Him like a beggar, like a citizen, it won’t work either.
That is why it is an art because it can only be cultivated through a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
3. ‘Entunchano’ (Greek) means to make intercession, to plead for a person.
The good example is the life and the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
Hebrews 7:25 tells us that He ever lives to make intercession for us. He pleads on behalf of a suffering person or a sinful person.
Early in my life, this has been my privilege to see the Lord Jesus Christ for the first time. When He walked into my room, that very circumstance was a circumstance that was of an intercessory prayer. It happened on the 3rd week of November 1983. I had gone into prayer closet to fast and pray for the whole day for the 300 people. So I take all the letters into my closet to pray. I waited on God for the whole day, fasting, praying, worshiping, and meditating the Word. And the last hour I spent was for intercessory prayer for all those needs. so I knelt down, “Holy Spirit I am going to pray for all these letters right now, please fill me with the spirit of intercession, help me to pray.” As I was about to finish that prayer, I heard the sound of the doorknob been turned. Normally nobody comes to disturb me or knock on my door when I am in prayer. I pull away the telephone cords and switch off my mobile phone. When the doorknob is opened I wonder who this person who come to disturb me is.
This was real; this is no more vision, as real as you see me standing before you. As the door opened, the Lord Jesus Christ stepped in. I was shocked. When I was small I was praying hoping to see the Lord but suddenly when He came, I was just too shocked because what I saw the Lord Jesus Christ was totally different from whatever I had imagined before. You know we have different imaginations on how Jesus Christ looks like. But to tell you, you will be greatly shocked. He is most beautiful beyond description. He was wearing a beautiful blue robe.
Then He closed the door. He walked straight towards me. I was still kneeling and shocked looking at Him. He’s very gentle having a very graceful walk; His face was shining with light with beautiful rosy red cheeks. His hair is resting on His shoulder, golden brown in color. He came and He stood. I just looked up at Him. I didn’t know what to say. Good morning or good evening, I didn’t know. Praise the Lord…or what to say, I didn’t know. I was also afraid to be very casual to say, “I’m so glad to meet you Lord.”
I did not speak anything mainly because I was shocked and awed by the beauty that was on Him. The Scripture says, he’s the fairest of ten thousands…but He’s more than that.
When He came, He said, “I have come to pray with you.” I was very surprised. I’ve never ever heard any teaching or doctrine or any theology like that before so before I could react to say anything, the Lord Jesus did something that greatly shocked me. He knelt down beside me and then He said, “Take your hands and put on the letters.” Only then I started speaking. I said, “I don’t even know what is on those letters shall I read to you one by one so that then we can pray together?” And the Lord Jesus gave a beautiful smile. Even that smile filled with love. I was so closed and I looked into His beautiful blue sea eyes. And it was so transparent as if you can see for miles deep into the eyes. He said, “Put your hands on these letters.” As I did, He laid His hands into my hands. He said, “Now let us pray.”
He lifted up His head and when He did, He begun to sigh and groan, that’s all for one entire hour–sighing and groaning, sighing and groaning and tears were rolling down His eyes like rivers.
I learned how to intercede by looking at the Lord Jesus. Every time we pray together whether on this earth or taken up to heaven, His method of prayer is always the same–groaning and sighing in prayer. Sometimes words come out from His mouth but all the words were filled with love and compassion. That is the ministry of Jesus prayer, interceding one by one. When He is through with the first prayer, He will turn and said, “Now this is the answer you shall write to that letter.” One by one we went through all 300 letters, not like what all the preachers including me do today, ‘Lord, we pray for all this requests.’ In the rushy-wishy world we live, we like to group them all together. I have been guilty of that. That is why I try to put a season of fasting and prayer so that I can individually pray for every one of them and not rush through.
I seldom give appointments to meet people because that robs my time. My call chiefly is to pray for people so I bend my knees to wait on Him. As according to my office as a prophet, I must wait at God’s feet to listen to what He says then come and speak to you. I must prepare myself as His mouthpiece so that every word that I speak does not come from my flesh but I’m just like a trumpet that blows His sound that will be crystal clear for all to hear, not mix with my flesh.
And we went through all the 300 letters and when we were through, He stood up, He laid His hand on me, and He prayed a wonderful prayer of blessing. From that day, my spiritual eyes were permanently opened. And when I close my eyes to pray, I always see the Lord Jesus. And when I see His face, I keep on pleading with Him until He says, “Yes that prayer is granted.” Until I hear Him say that, I never let go His feet. I kept holding His feet until He says, “Yes, I will do this because you ask.”
That is the Lord Jesus Christ’s ministry of intercession is.
4. ‘puperentunchano’ (Greek) means to intercede on behalf of another.
You will find that this particular word expresses a kind of intercessory prayer where it says to intercede on behalf of another. That is what the Holy Spirit does. Romans 8:26 says that the Holy Spirit helps our infirmity.
The word ‘help’ in Greek is very interesting. It is not like you understand that come to work together with you. It conveys a concept like this: the Holy Spirit comes and stands by your side, puts His arm around you and holds you close to His chest and upholds you, which means you are not praying in your strength. He holds you close and lifts you up. So together you will become one with Him and He then prays through you with groanings, utterings.
Have you seen some real intercessors? When they intercede, they are rolling on the floor, they just groan and utter. No words come out of their mouth. That is a deep level of intercession where the Holy Spirit comes upon them and takes hold of them. For lack of a better word let me use the word ‘possessed’. The Holy Spirit possesses them. You know if the evil spirit can possess a person, why can’t the Holy Spirit do that isn’t it? Why should we be afraid of the word ‘possessed’? The Holy Spirit takes hold of us and He uses us, our human organs to pray and intercede.
Intercession is the act of meeting with God by falling before Him, for pleading on behalf of another. This is intercession simply really means.
A true intercessor can never pray a 2-minutes prayer. Only professional prayer people will do that. Well I’m saying it very honestly. I’m not butter coating, I am telling you as it really is. A true intercessor cannot pray a professional 2-minutes prayer because they are different.
When you come and fall before God, you are so lost in crying and pleading for the person you are praying for. Time will just fly. You have to keep on praying until the burdens leave offs you. You cannot stop short of the burden lifting off you. If you fall short of the burden lifting off you, that prayer didn’t reach through. It didn’t reach the feet of the living God. It was not added to the incense in the bowls that the angels are carrying. You must keep on praying. How long will it takes? Sometimes several days!
In order to intercede, you need some ingredients. You need some spices to add some qualities that are necessary for an intercessor so that you can come before God. There are 5 main qualities or ingredients that are necessary for an intercessor.
Exodus 30:34 “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take fragrant spices–gum resin, onycha and galbanum–and pure frankincense, all in equal amounts.”
In this Scripture, Moses was commanded by God to make incense that is necessary to put on the altar of incense that should be burned and rise up continually 24 hours a day before the Lord God. Two furniture in the tabernacle were to be lit 24 hours a day–the candlestick and the incense. Look at how God carefully gives Moses instruction concerning the ingredients, not just any kind of incense.
Very specifically He told him of five things. Now what are they? Those five ingredients spiritually signify five different qualities that an intercessor must have in order to engage in an art of intercession.
Firstly, the Scripture says that they must be of the same weight.
The five ingredients must be of same weight means that if you’re praying alone, your spirit, your soul and your body must be one; if you’re praying in a group, everybody must be in one heart, one mind. You cannot pray like your mouth is praying something and your mind is wandering all over the Philippines. A lot of people are like that these days and they go to the pastor and say, “Pastor please pray for me, my mind always wanders whenever I pray or when I read the bible.” But when you’re gossiping your mind doesn’t wander. When you’re watching movies, your mind doesn’t wander. When you’re doing ungodly activities, your mind strangely does not wander. But when you are engage in a holy activity suddenly your mind takes off in a 747 Boeing and it goes around and around somewhere and it knows exactly when you say AMEN and it comes back. You cannot do that. You cannot be divided. If you are divided, your prayer will never be heard.
Matthew 18:19, “Where two or three are gathered in My Name, there I am in their midst.”
This Scripture simply means whenever two or three are gathered together in prayer or in a spiritual meeting, the presence of the Lord is in our midst. This Scripture also means: two and three– your spirit and your soul, that is two and the third person is the Holy spirit. Your spirit and soul becoming one with the Holy Spirit. When you become one with the Holy Spirit, there is stillness and quietness within your spirit and your mind, and when you become one with the Holy Spirit, you can see the Lord Jesus Christ standing in your midst.
I once demonstrated this in our family prayer meeting. It’s just a normal prayer meeting and the presence of the Lord came but because of some disunity among us or because they are not prepared to enter into the presence of God, it was rising up and going down, rising up and going down so I stopped the meeting. I read to them the Scripture, “The Scripture says that if two or three are gathered, the Lord Jesus will be in our midst, there are five of us here now, where is the Lord Jesus.” So everybody pointed a finger at one direction. “Oh He’s standing there.” “Really? Where? Show me,” I said, “But did your eyes see?” They all kept quiet so silently. I said, “So this is the way we’ll do, let’s be quiet for a moment now. Let’s bring our mind, our thoughts, our hearts, make them all still and quiet.” So for five minutes, everybody was still and quiet. “Ready? Let’s now worship the Lord.” Just barely 5 minutes into worship and every one of them saw the Lord standing in our midst.
When you come before God, you all must be one. If you’re praying in a group, everybody must be of one mind. You cannot think like “When will this preacher finish the preaching? There is another session after this and we need to go and eat.” You cannot think like that.
Now let me share with you an example that pains me till today even after 22 years. I was invited to speak at a Lutheran church convention. For three days, we had a wonderful meeting. On the last day, the church committee gathered together to give me their offering and they said, “Will you pray and bless us?” I said, “All right.” There were about 15 of them. They all knelt together in one of the elders’ house and I began to pray. As I was praying, the Lord Jesus appeared and said, “I am now going to lay my hands and bless every one of these elders, whatever words I give to you, tell them exactly like I show you.” So the Lord Jesus stood beside one elder and He turned and looked at me and He said, “This is the word you will tell Him.” So He gave blessings after blessings one by one by one after the five elders. When He came to the sixth elder, He stopped putting His hand on his head and turned unto me and said, “I am no longer wanted here. I am leaving now.” I said, “Lord, how can you leave? It’s not over yet, there are still 10 more elders Lord, what about the rest?” Again He repeated, “I am no longer wanted here. This man (the Lord pointed His finger to the 6th elder.), his heart is not here, he’s thinking in his heart right now ‘When will this man finish his prayer? My poor wife is waiting at home with dinner.”
Unfortunately I am staying at that elder’s house. While the prayer is going on, he’s thinking like this in his mind. “…and my wife had cooked such a delicious food for this pastor, how come he’s going on praying and praying when it’s already 10 o’clock right now…when is he going to finish…my poor wife is…”
I was so upset and then the Lord said, “I am leaving.” and the Lord disappeared. I didn’t know what to answer to the rest of the elders who asked me, “How is it that you are not praying a blessing over us?” I didn’t want to insult or expose that elder in front of everybody else. I just kept quiet. I was very upset.
And this elder took me to his house because unfortunately I was staying in his house. So I changed my clothes and the wife came and warmly welcomes me and said, “Brother, we have been waiting for you, I cooked all great dishes for you on your last night with us.” I came and sat at the dining table and the wife showed me all the delicious food she has prepared. And before we said grace for the food, I looked at the elder and asked him, “Tell me, did you thought like this in your heart when you’re praying?” His eyes grew wide. His wife didn’t know what was happening. I said, “Did you thought like that?” He hung down his head and said, “Yes, I thought like that.” I said, “How in the world could you think about eating fruit that will perish when so many people have missed blessings because of you?! Their blood will be upon your head.”
I got up from the table and I walked away. I said, “I will not touched any single food from your house till the day I leave here and I’ll leave because this food in your household shall be cursed.”
And I left. I locked the door and then he told his wife all that happened and she got so mad with her husband, she scolded him, “How can you do like this?!”
Both of them came and pleaded with me asking for forgiveness, “Please come and eat.” I said, “I would never touch even a cup of tea in your house till I leave. If you can give so much importance to that which will come out of the body that you don’t care for the presence of the living God…” because that elder knows so well that the Lord Jesus was standing there blessing everyone of them, how dare then he think otherwise?!
The following morning, the wife brought me a cup of tea. I said, “No, I don’t want any tea, take it away.” And immediately I changed my clothes and I left their house.
Now, what happened that day was there was a chain of unity around the elders but when that one particular elder thought otherwise, the chain of unity was broken. See that is why when you come together to pray, it is so important that everybody must be of like mind.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY!
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