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Thought on intercession

July 2, 2009

intercessionHave you ever worked on the details of a problem or project or idea for too long, and then found the answer in the big picture? I love it. The details are necessary. The details are where you go from Good to Excellent. But sometimes the revelation is the big picture, and you need to back up a bit to see it.

I did that in a very literal sense last week with my home-grown Bible study on intercession. I’ve been creating this wonderfully OCD Word document over the past week-and-a-half to catalog instances and examples of intercession in scripture. It’s specific, it’s well-organized, and – darn it – it’s color-coded. Seriously. (Don’t believe me? Screen shot.)

Last Friday ended our teaching series with the students on prayer, and I really wanted to talk about intercession. It was – almost accidentally, which probably means “providentially” – one of the most researched messages I’ve delivered on a Friday in a long time.

So I opened up my wonderful little project and stared at it. And stared at it some more. There’s a lot of info and a lot of ideas and a lot of good stuff in those little colored boxes. Finally I shrank it to a 50% view so I could see all of the pages at once and there was my epiphany.

As I went through all of this scripture and made notes on each piece, certain trends started to emerge (which I quickly color-coded). They didn’t seem to have much to do with one another until I took a big step back and found one more.

Most instances of intercession in scripture are in the Old Testament.

That’s not a striking statement, but stick with me. Why? Why are most of them OT? There are probably a few reasons: the Old Testament is much longer than the New, for one.

The big reason is because the Holy Spirit wasn’t available to believers in the Old Testament. Joe The Plumber, in the OT, couldn’t just strike up a conversation with the Alpha And Omega. If you wanted to get anything done, anyone protected, anyone healed, any army advanced, etc. you had to go through a prophet, priest, or king. So naturally there was a lot of intercession (which means “go between” in the Latin).

Today, though, any believer can pray in confidence that God hears him. Anyone can intercede on behalf of another. So is “intercession” really a big deal? Does God still call certain people as intercessors?

I think He does. The Holy Spirit, and the presence of God, is available to anyone who chooses Him, but many people don’t. God’s heart is still for them, and they still need prayer. I think intercessors in the New Testament have a calling – and a grace – to stand before God on behalf of people who don’t know they can talk to Him, or choose not to.

I don’t think that’s the only office of an intercessor, but I think it’s a big one. And it’s one I didn’t see until recently. The color-coded connection was cool for me. It also sheds some light on those other trends I mentioned, but we’ll talk about those tomorrow.

What do you think? Are we all called to be intercessors? Are there people especially chosen to go deeper in that capacity? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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