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A Life Changing Experience
The Practice of Prayer in Intercession
It's been our joy to be around the world the last ten years, and to take the marvelous gospel of the Kingdom to Malaysia, and Asia. And I went to the bishop in the Anglican church there, and said, "Now Bishop, you've asked me to share on the power of God." And I said, "Tell me, are you aware that God is powerful?" "Well," he said, "when I was six in South India, my brother had died, and I was actually sick with the same disease, and was being buried, and my two parents got down and prayed in intercession besides my coffin. And when the relatives arrived for the funeral, I was sitting up in the coffin and thanking God." I said "Are you sure you want to hear about miracles from me? I think you should be talking!"
Very often, when we go from Europe, we think these people are just people that need to hear the wonderful things that we have to offer. But in reality, so many of them have prayed and found God is real.
I want to talk about the practice of prayer in intercession: How you can pray for your children or for other people and how God can move through that prayer in tremendous miracles, like the raising of the dead. I am talking about the prayer of faith and the way in which God can speak to us as we are listening to Him. This can really bring us to a place of positive praying.
God can do great things for you. He can also use your prayers as a vehicle through which He does great things for others. God can use you powerfully in prayer. But first, first there has to be a character of intercession.
An intercessor must be human, he must be sympathetic, he must be appointed by God, and he must live in holiness. But also, I believe an intercessor needs to be called of God. Certainly Israel was, and certainly the church is today. And then I am going to give you Christ's example and the changes which have been wrought over the years by prayer.
First an intercessor, in His special character, has to be human as well as divine. In Hebrew 2:17, Jesus was made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God. He had to be man and God together, that he might be able to make atonement for the sins of the people. He had to be human and divine. Therefore, as an intercessor He has sympathy. He has a sympathetic love for the people he is praying for. In Luke 7:13, when Jesus saw the funeral and the widow, with the boy being buried, his heart overflowed with sympathy. "Don't cry," he said and walked over to the coffin. Jesus said, "Come back to life." The boy sat up, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.
One of my friends was a Christian doctor. He married a Christian nurse and they worked in a hospital in Rwanda. He was there in the hospital when he saw one of his patients, (a woman) keel over, and die. Apparently a witch doctor had put poison in their medicine to discredit the missionaries. And he told me, "Keith, I didn't like what I saw." And the relatives came to bring home the corpse. In Africa the superstition is that the body and the spirit must be joined, and must die in their home country, otherwise their spirit will haunt that neighborhood. "But," he said, "as they were carrying the lady's body in a fishnet, my wife came out and together we felt so full of sadness. And we felt so full of love for the fact that Jesus loved this lady. Therefore, we stopped the funeral, went over to the fishnet and rebuked the spirit of death. And the corpse began to move! The lady got up out of the fishnet and walked back to the village." This didn't suit the witch doctor very well, because God got the glory.
In Hebrew 4:14-15, we find that we have a great high priest. He's gone through the heavens, he's alive, Jesus the Son of God. "Now," Paul says, "let us hold firmly to the faith. For we don't have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness. We have one who has been tempted in every way we are, yet without sin."
In a move of God in Limerick, the priest said to me. "oh," he said, "I don't like what's happening here. It's not in my church tradition." But later that afternoon, he said, "God has spoken to me in the interval. Please would you pray for me?" His face which had psoriasis, was suddenly healed. He had a real divine visitation. And as we prayed in sympathy and in love, all his past remarks were forgiven, and he was completely healed.
Hebrews 5:5 says that Christ did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest, but God said "You are my Son, today I have become your Father." In Romans 10:17, it says that faith starts with hearing, it is God that appoints the intercessor. In John 5:19, Jesus says that the Son can do nothing by himself, he only does what he sees the Father doing.
And so, in Perth, Australia, I was praying, "God, please heal these sick people." And I saw in a vision hands being healed. So, at the Assembly of God there, I said, "please will you come up, anybody with hand trouble." And five people came up with bad, difficult disease in their hands. And we prayed, "God, we rebuke this disease!" And according to the vision that I saw, every single person had their hands healed. In fact, in John 5:20-21, it says that the Father loves the Son, and tells him everything He is doing. And He will even raise the dead. When the Father shows the Son, the Son does the healing. The Son does not do any healing until the Father begins to do it...
And so, we need to be as an intercessor, in a place of holiness. In Psalm 66:18, God doesn't listen to sinners. There is a general call, however, not only to Christ, but to the nation of Israel. It says in Exodus 19:6, that "you are a Kingdom of Priests." And if you can get a whole church to pray together, it's marvelous what can happen. We had a whole church praying in Puget Sound, near Seattle. And a lady came in who was full of evil spirits. She lived in a black van, in a black room. But the whole church got up and interceded. And thank God, she had a tremendous deliverance within five minutes!
God has chosen us (1Peter 2:5), as living stones, built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices. Through the blood of Jesus, we Christians have become priests and kings unto God. (Revelation 1:6) This is your calling, intercede for your nation, move for your church. God wants to change it.
We see this a lot where we go to minister, particularly in Yakima, Washington. We have going there once a year and ministered and prayed there for the last 20 years. In that time, God brought together all the churches. Seventy-five pastors came together just this last summer in 1997. They said, "Let's pray together for our town. Let's take the big stadium. Let's have a team from YWAM." And as the churches moved in unity and prayed in unity. I personally had the joy to see 3,000 come to Jesus in four days in that little American town. In fact on Tuesday night, they had a thousand people give their hearts to Jesus, with only 400 counselors! Because as the brethren moved in intercession in unity, God commanded the blessing.
Jesus himself gives believers an example of how we are to intercede. He prayed for sinners. In Isaiah 53:12, because he bore the sins of many, he made intercession for the transgressors.
The Lord Jesus, has given us an example in praying for fallen believers. You remember Peter in Luke 22:32, Jesus said "you're going to deny me, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."
Then, thirdly, he prayed for his enemies. In Luke 23:34, Jesus said from the cross, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they are doing."
And so, I rented a hall in Uri. And in came people, and some came in who intended to make trouble. They weren't friends, they were enemies. I said, "Lord, pray.." And as I prayed a lady with a blind eye saw her eye opened. And one of these men that didn't like me said "would you pray for me?" And I prayed for his knee trouble and his knee got healed. And we never had any trouble, and we had a hundred and twenty come to the Lord.
You know, in Acts 7:6, when Stephen was dying, he fell to his knees and said, "Lord, lay not this sin against them." And the person that had taken the coats of those who were killing him, young Saul the murderer, he heard that prayer. I believe that prayer played a role in how he was gloriously converted on the way to Damascus. God used that man's prayer, that man Stephen, to raise up the greatest apostle in the new testament!
Jesus prayed in John 17, "I pray for the church, I pray for them, not for the world, but for those you've given me. They are yours. I pray that they may be one, that they may receive the glory that you gave to me." I prayed this in my home town of Holywood, near Belfast. All the churches prayed it. And Trevor Dearing came in. And out of that unity, we saw 43 come to Jesus at his meetings. One lady saw a permanent complete healing for her heart trouble.
Hebrews 7:25 teaches that Jesus is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because he's still alive, he's still interceding for them in heaven.
"Believe me," Samuel says in 1 Samuel 7:5, "I will intercede for you. Fear not," says Samuel, in 1 Samuel 12:20, "You've done this wickedness, but I will not sin against you." 1 Samuel 12:23, "I will not cease to pray for you." He never gave up.
And so, in my own experience, there are some prayers that are immediately answered. But there are others where you have to intercede, you pray, and then over a period of time, God answers. In fact, I feel that tremendous changes have been achieved by interceding. If you look at Abraham in Genesis 18:32, he sees that there will be only ten people saved in Lot's town of Sodom and Gomorrah. He prays, "Lord, save this town." He prayed. Okay, he couldn't save Sodom and Gomorrah, but he saved Lot.
In Exodus 32:32, when the people went wrong, Moses stood in the gap. He said, "forgive their sin, but if not, blot me out." That's the spirit of Jesus. He was prepared to go to hell. In Numbers 12:13, he even prayed for his sister Miriam, saying, "Lord heal her," when she'd been gossiping and coming against him!
I once had a similar experience. I had been warned that a certain number would come to me and they would begin to persecute me. So I prayed, and we had a wonderful meeting. And one of those who opposed me had a breakdown. And I went and prayed for this person after they had come against me. I believe in Jeroboam, when he persecuted the prophet, and was immediately hit by disease in 1 Kings 13:6, he said to the prophet, "entreat now the face of thy God." And the prophet sought God, and the man was restored.
A band came to help me in a teenage work at our seaside beach, and they said, "we're offended, we were only allowed to play one piece, and we wanted to play three." And they packed up and left me. "Oh," I said, "Lord, please help me!" And as they were going, the leader fell sick at the door. "Pray for me," he said. So I prayed for him and he got healed! And he still walked out! But God still glorified His name there. A little autistic child came, and that child heard and saw the signs the Lord was making. And three large drug addicts got delivered by the miracle power of God. So, when men persecute you, pray for them, love them.
David, when he even sinned in 1 Chronicles 21:8, by numbering the people, he confessed it. He put it right. And then he prayed and he saved a nation from destruction.
So in Ireland, where there has been so much trouble, we have prayed, and we have seen God move. There is a little country church mountain lodge, where they had machine gunned the elders. The widows got up and prayed, "Father forgive them." And in the catholic community, 18,000 came to the funeral! There's something bigger than hatred, it's the love of God expressed in intercession. In fact, Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles 20:18, and in 2 Chronicles 30:22-27, prayed, "bless the people." And God saved Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib, King of Assyria. He woke up, it says, and they all were dead corpses.
Job found healing when he prayed for his friends in Job 42:1. No matter how bad things are, it says God turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends. Stop being worried about what's happening to you, start praying for others and God will bring deliverance. In fact, Daniel, in Daniel 9:4-24, fasted and prayed, and brought deliverance to the Jews. "While I was speaking he said, confessing my sin, the sin of my people Israel, presenting my supplication, the angel came and told me that there would be an end to that problem."
God gives us a wonderful picture of intercession in the New Testament for Peter. In Acts 12, he was delivered from prison. But prayer was made without ceasing, there was intercession. And the same night, Herod would have been brought forth, Peter was sleeping. Peter, how can you be asleep? You're going to die! King Herod has already killed James! "Ah, but I've had a word from God," Peter would have replied. "I'll be an old man when I die." And he was sleeping, resting on the word of God. And in verse 7, the angel of the Lord came, a light shone in, and he said, "rise up quickly." And his chains fell off! He had more trouble getting into the prayer meeting than he had getting out of prison! There was only one person that was believing and that was little Rhoda at the door! She had heard from God, she said let's go to the door and open up the door! And so, as soon as Peter arrived, there was somebody not only interceding, but believing. And she let him into that prayer meeting to share the glorious fact that when you're under pressure, that God answers prayer!
May I say, very clearly please, that if you are a believing parent, your children can be blessed by your prayers. I love Genesis 17:18, where Abraham prays, "O God, let Ishmael reign before me!" In 1 Chronicles 29:19, David prayed, "Give my son Solomon, a perfect heart." In Mark 7:26, there was a woman, a Greek, a Syrophonecian. She besought Jesus that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter. Each parent had their prayer answered, not because they deserved it, but because we have a loving God. My son, Michael, very clearly walks with God. This is how it happened.. we prayed regularly for him. And at the age of 17, suddenly the Spirit fell upon the camp where he was. People began to confess their sins and they found forgiveness from Jesus. Michael has never looked back. He's grown up to love the Lord and to wonderfully trust Him. You and your household, says the word in Acts 16 can be saved, as you pray for your children.