Much as I love Joshua 1:3, time was I was overawed by the promise it contains. It’s pretty much a blank check — especially when taken out of context. I may talk about taking verses out of context some other time, but for now let me just say that even when I was saying this verse in prayer, I knew I didn’t have the kind of faith it takes. And then some years ago the Holy Spirit said something that was both liberating and motivating.
One day as I was meditating on Joshua 1, the Holy Spirit said: “Every place you tread IN INTERCESSION I will give you.”
That was the key! It was liberating because I already knew that in intercession, the onus is on God’s desire to fulfill His will. Our faith is always important, of course, but God’s desire to fulfill His will is far more important.
And what the Holy Spirit said was motivating because God was promising to answer intercession. That meant I could intercede with full confidence!
WHAT IS INTERCESSION?
Not all prayer is based on a knowledge of God’s will. Some prayer is simply telling God what we want and asking Him to give it to us if it is His will. We might say, “Lord, I’d like a new car. Is this Your will for me?” And He will respond in in one of three ways: Yes, No, or Wait.
As an important aside, God’s silence usually means “Wait.” Don’t take it as a yes or a no until He makes that clear, but do wait in faith.
Sometimes we don’t even have to add “if it is Your will.” For instance, Jesus taught us to ask to our daily bread, for the forgiveness of sins, and for deliverance from evil without qualifying it with “if it is Your will” (Matthew 6:11-13).
Similar to this is the prayer of inquiry, the prayer that is the precursor to intercession. The inquiry goes something like this: “Lord, what is Your will in this situation?”
When we find out God’s will — bingo! We’ve found what God will say yes to, and that becomes the subject of our intercession.
Many times we stop once we find out God’s will. We tend to think our task is over, but only step one is over. Step two is to then pray God’s will to be done.
Yes, we are to pray for God’s will to be done. Jesus Himself taught us to pray saying “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10 NKJV). We are to pray this even when we don’t know what God’s will is. But when we do know what God’s will is, we are required to pray that it is done.
That, in a nutshell, is intercession: praying into the earth realm what God has always said yes to in the heaven realm. After that will is done, we thank God and move the next item.
And don’t worry, your list will never run out. If you want to intercede, God will always have an intercession assignment for you.
I believe there are three primary reasons to engage in intercession:
1. There is a need. People have needs and God is looking for those who will step in and pray. Apart from Jesus’ teaching and modeling while He walked this earth, on numerous occasions the apostle Paul also urges us to pray. For instance, in 1 Timothy 2:1 he says, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people” (NIV).
3. Intercession enables us to hear and know God better. We can only truly intercede for a situation once we have already found out God’s will concerning it. Finding out God’s will is all about hearing Him, and hearing Him is all about knowing Him. And knowing Him is what it’s all about.