I know that this is the first post in a few days, but I kind of planned it this way. Tonight in the spiritual gifts series, we will continue with the next part on intercession. We’ll talk more about this in a moment.
However, I also want to tell you that I’ll be working on the spiritual gifts series, but over the next three weeks, I am also going to do a series on prayer and 15 of the prayer disciplines. This goes in line with my church’s teaching on 2010 being a call to prayer.
If you are wanting to learn more about being a prayer warrior, this 15-part series, featured Monday through Friday over the these next three weeks is for you. I may not move very far over this time with the spiritual gifts series, but I want you to know that we are finishing it before moving on to something else that will be pretty cool.
Also, we are now 90 days away from Agapefest 2010. I am going to the event and hopefully won’t have the rain and mud that we did a year ago. It was a great event, but not somewhere I was pulling out my camera often. I hope this year will be different in that aspect. It will be April 30-May 1 for those of you looking for calendar dates. I do know that ticket prices are at a reduced rate until February 14th. So now would be a great time to get them. I’ll talk more about this as the date approaches and I hope to see a lot of you there.
So, as I’ve said earlier, we’ll be talking about prayer and its disciplines. Tonight though, we move toward that series talking about a spiritual gift that can come out of following these practices, the gift of intercession. Intercession is defined as the unique, God-given ability to perceive the heart of God for nations, individuals, or specific situations and to pray fervently and strategically until God’s will comes to pass.
The first part of the definition talks about perceiving the heart of God. How do we do that? Do we do that by attending church every Sunday, working in multiple ministries, giving all our money to the poor? The list could go on. This is an emphatic NO! We perceive the heart of God the same way we perceive the hearts of our children, spouses and friends. We spend time with Him. We read His Word, but it is more than that. When we pray, we don’t just give Him the laundry list and say “Chop chop, genie.” We spend the same type of quality time getting to know Him like we did with our future husband or wife when we were dating. We talk, we let Him talk and tell us His deep desires as well. If we don’t care enough to give God the floor once in a while, we will have shallow, meaningless existences trying to get out of God all we can while doing little to express our love to Him.
Then once we perceive, then we pray fervently and strategically until God’s will comes to pass. What that means is that once we understand what God wants us to pray about, then we pray often. We don’t hand up a two-minute prayer and call it a day. One of the qualities of intercessors is that people with this gift spend hours daily praying. Bryan Carraway tells us in Spiritual Gifts, Their Purpose and Power, that this is the first quality of an intercessor. They feel the burden to pray and they do so. Prayer isn’t a burden to them. They are burdened if they feel they didn’t pray long enough.
People that are intercessors also pray strategically. They have a plan on how to pray. I don’t even consider myself even average when it comes to prayer. I pray most of the time when I think about it. For these with the gift of intercession, they plan their day around prayer. They know when they are getting up to pray, when they are praying throughout the day and how they’ll close the day in prayer. This may or may not mean that their day is systematic, but they know that they will take the time to pray.
The second trait of an intercessor is that when intercessors get a particular burden, they will not stop praying until God removes the burden from them. One of my pastor friends feels burdened to pray for areas of New England. When he does, there are times that he’ll leaf through travel brochures and other materials about the area while praying. He’s prayed for this area of the country for many years.
The third trait is that these with the gift get great clarity from God about what He wants accomplished. God tells the intercessor what He wants them to petition Him about. Televangelist Zola Levitt ends his program weekly reminding us to pray for the peace in Jerusalem. He shared a story many years ago from God telling him specifically that this was important to pray for. Zola centers a lot of his prayer life on praying for that peace. Some people with the gift of intercession won’t even pray for other things unless clearly led by or given permission to by God. Carraway even states in his book that intercessors “are held very accountable by God for what they do pray and are very sensitive to pray as they are led by the Spirit, not necessarily by the needs they see in front of them.”
Carraway ends his section on intercession suggesting that churches need to identify these people and place them as praying watchmen over the church. Intercessors will help church leaders break down strongholds of enemy territory and open your church to go full throttle for the lost and weary in your community and beyond.
One of the other interesting discussions in the book is that there have been findings that intercession is predominantly a female trait overall. C. Peter Wagner, who has also done work on spiritual gifts places the edge as high as 80-20% in favor of females as intercessors. Carraway states that he hasn’t done enough research to refute or confirm those findings, but I would guess that it might be because praying has more recently been shown in art and other parts of society as a female characteristic. Grandmas at the feet of their rockers, women in circles and more girls than boys in pictures praying at the feet of their bed are some of these things. Is that the reason? I don’t know for sure either, but as Carraway says, I am very thankful that God gives us this gift at all.
In the spiritual gift series, the next gift we will look at is the gift of hospitality. Keep in mind that we will be beginning the prayer disciplines on Monday as well.
A final reminder that the contest for NewSong’s Give Yourself Away CD ends on the Winter Jam thread on Sunday night at midnight CST. Go there to enter the contest for the CD.
I love you guys!