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Contributing Authors:
Alison Bowling A.Bowling@utas.edu.au, Lucy Deliganis deliganis@worldnet.att.net, Paul Gaskin paul.gaskin@bbsrc.ac.uk, Teresa Seputis ts@godspeak.net
EDITOR:Alison Bowling

Prayer Resources

Lesson 4

By Alison Bowling

Book Review

Intercessory Prayer

by Dutch Sheets

This book is a very thorough and comprehensive discussion of intercessory prayer. Many different facets of intercessory prayer are covered in chapters with titles such as "Pro Wrestlers" (dealing with spiritual warfare) and "Butterflies, mice, elephants and bull's-eyes" (dealing with the leading of the Holy Spirit in prayer). Each chapter commences with an illustration from the author's own experience, often humorous, such as the occasion when he tried parachuting behind a boat, only to end up in the water in his street clothes when the engine failed. The chapters then continue with solid Biblical teaching about the specific facet of intercession under consideration, and conclude with questions for reflection to enable the reader to come to a clear understanding of the material. It is a valuable resource book, which contains useful insights into many of the questions that most of us have about prayer at some time or another. Concepts are clearly explained with the use of examples and illustrations.

After answering questions about the necessity of prayer, Dutch Sheets lays a foundational understanding about Jesus as the Ultimate Intercessor. Intercession, according to Webster's Dictionary, means, "to go or pass between; to act between parties with a view to reconcile those who differ or contend....". Essentially, the concept of intercession involves mediation, or going between two parties. This occurs daily in legal situations. Jesus was the ultimate Mediator between God and man - the "ultimate, final and only go-between". "Christ's intercession, in keeping with its literal meaning, was not a prayer He prayed, but a work of mediation He did".

Dutch continues to lay the foundation of Jesus as the Ultimate Intercessor by explaining that he believes that the intercession that Jesus is currently performing for us refers to His work of mediation. He is being our Advocate with the Father - He isn't praying for us; He is interceding for us so that we can pray. The author emphasises that this understanding is critical - Jesus has completed His work of intercession, and our prayers of intercession are always and only an extension of His work of intercession. Dutch then goes on to offer this definition of intercessory prayer: "Intercessory prayer is an extension of the ministry of Jesus through His Body, the Church, whereby we mediate between God and humanity for the purpose of reconciling the world to Him, or between Satan and humanity for the purpose of enforcing the victory of Calvary" (page 42).

The remainder of the book deals with different facets of intercession by focussing on the Hebrew word for intercession, "paga", which means, "to meet". The word does not necessarily mean prayer at all, but each of its shades of meaning can be accomplished through prayer. "Intercession creates a meeting. Intercessors meet with God; they also meet the powers of darkness". We meet with God to bring about reconciliation between Him and the person we are praying for. We meet the enemy to undo, or break a hold that the enemy has on someone's life, to enforce the victory of Calvary.

After considering Jesus' work of intercession, the book then goes on to consider our part. This is to re-present what Jesus did - to apply, administer and enforce all that Jesus did for us in His work of intercession. Our iniquity was laid upon (paga) Jesus and He bore our sins away. Likewise, our part in intercession is to carry away or remove burdens from others. We "stake" ourselves to the person in need to support them, and carry that burden away. "That's what intercession is all about. Paga: He 'lays on' us someone else's need. Anechomai: We 'stake' ourselves to that person. Bastazo: We 'carry away' the weakness or burden."

Another aspect of intercession involves establishing boundaries (paga) of protection through prayer for ourselves and our loved ones. This should be a consistent part of our prayer-life as we abide or dwell in the secret place. Psalm 91 tells us that when we dwell in the secret place, we live under God's protection. However, in addition to general, persistent abiding prayer, there will be specific times when the Holy Spirit alerts us to pray protective prayers for someone. These are kairos times - the strategic or "right time". This took place when Jesus interceded for Peter that his faith would not fail after he denied Him.

Another chapter deals with the Holy Spirit and His role in intercession, referring specifically to Romans 8:26-28. "When we allow Him to intercede through us.... He will cause our prayers to light upon (paga) the right person or place, in the right way, at the right time, bringing forth the will of God in situations". Dutch Sheets calls this the "butterfly anointing" because when he begins to pray in the Spirit, he does not know where he is going, but as He allows the Holy Spirit to direct his prayers, He will "light upon correctly".

Travailing prayer is the subject of another chapter, entitled, "Supernatural childbirth". "We are the womb of God upon the earth.... We do not generate life, but we release, through prayer, Him who does". The Holy Spirit is the birthing agent, and as He hovered over the earth in Genesis 1:2, so He wants to hover over individuals to cause a new birth in them. Our prayers of travailing intercession release the Holy Spirit to hover over a situation. Dutch Sheets defined travailing intercession as follows: " A form of intercession that releases the creative power or energy of the Holy Spirit into a situation to produce, create, or give birth to something".

Paga involves warfare! It is translated as "attack", "strike down" or other warfare related words fifteen times in the Old Testament. We cannot separate intercession from warfare, and we need to have an understanding of Satan's schemes. We are to be "pro wrestlers", aggressively and offensively dealing with the forces of darkness whenever the opportunity arises. In our spiritual warfare, we continue to re-present the victory of the Cross. "Jesus paga'ed the devil. He attacked him and crushed his headship over the earth".

The chapter following the one on spiritual warfare deals with intercession for the lost. A veil is over the minds of unbelievers so that they are unable to see the truth of the gospel. There are strongholds, which are places of strength that Satan has within the minds of unbelievers to keep them enslaved. These mindsets, pride, and thoughts and temptations of the enemy can only be overcome by means of the spiritual weapons that God has given us to destroy strongholds (2 Cor. 10:3-5). Through intercession, these spiritual weapons act like dynamite to eventually explode the fortresses in the mind, lifting the veil, and allowing the person to have a revelation of God.

In another chapter, Dutch Sheets deals with the lightning of God. There are many Scriptures that associate God with light and Satan with darkness. At the Cross, the light of Jesus prevailed over the darkness of Satan. He writes ".... then I think it safe to say that our intercession releases the lightning of God to flash forth into situations, bringing devastation to the powers of darkness".

The necessity for persistence in prayer is also covered. Revelation 8:3-5 describes how the bowl of incense with the prayers of the saints is mixed with the fire from the altar and thrown upon the earth. When this happens, power is released to answer the need. However, sometimes there is not enough in the bowl to meet the need, and prolonger, fervent and persistent prayer is required to fill the bowl.

A further aspect of intercession involves prophetic action and declaration. Moses performed a prophetic action when he stretched his rod over the Red Sea, and Ezekial made a prophetic declaration when he prophesied to the dry bones. Prophetic declaration is speaking for God - it involves saying what God is saying. God may call us to make declarations over our towns and cities, or to perform other apparently foolish acts, but it is important that "whatever He says, do it!".

The final chapter describes the "watchman anointing" - our calling and equipping as intercessors to be forewarned and to pray against the enemy's schemes and plans. We must be on the alert. In Old Testament times, watchman stood on the walls watching for messengers and to alert the city when a friendly messenger was coming. They also watched for the enemy, and sounded the alarm when they saw danger approaching. Watchmen have both a defensive and an offensive role. In the offensive role, the watchmen lay siege to a city, systematically pulling down the strongholds of the enemy using the prayer strategies that God reveals. Cities can be transformed by the power of God through intercession.

At the end of the book, Dutch challenges us to walk in our calling as an intercessor, "Are you ready"?

-- © GodSpeak International 2000 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

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