This is Part 4 in a 5 part series. To see all the posts in the Who Rules the World? series, contagion CLICK HERE.
This is the continuation of the last post I wrote on intercessory prayer. I would recommend that you read that before reading this! Click Here to read the first part of this post.
In my last post, symptoms I spoke about the power and need for intercessory prayer and that when we pray, we need to pray according to God’s will. And if we are to pray according to God’s will, it seems as though we would need to know what that will is, which brings us to the important question, what does God will? What is it that He wants to do on this earth, in the lives of His precious children? First of all, I want to acknowledge that I cannot even begin to fathom and understand the will of the Lord God, an issue I’ve addressed in this post.
With that being said, John writes:
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. -1 John 5:14
And I don’t think that God would tell us to pray according to His will without giving us an understanding of what it is that He wills.
Sometimes, like with Elijah, we will receive words from the Lord on what to pray for, what His will is in a certain situation. But I also believe that there are three situations in which we can always know God’s will. This doesn’t mean that we will understand His timing or process, but it does mean we can pray with confidence, knowing that we are praying God’s will and that He desires to work through us to see what we are praying for accomplished.
Those three things are salvation, freedom, and healing.
1. Salvation- in 1 Timothy 2:1-6a, Paul writes:
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. -1 Timothy 2:1-6a
In 2 Peter 3:9, Peter writes:
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. -2 Peter 3:9
We can be absolutely confident that when we pray intercessory prayers for people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the Lord, we are absolutely praying the will of God.
2. Freedom– Our God desires us to be free from sin, free from the chains that burden us, free from depression, eating disorders, anxiety, all other mental disorders, and demonic attacks and strongholds.
We see that time and time again, our Lord Jesus sets people who are in bondage free. Just one example of this is found Mark 9 when a father brings his son, who is being tormented by a demon, to Jesus.
When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit.
“You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up. -Mark 9:25-27
He frees this boy from demonic attack.
When the teachers of the law and the Pharisees throw down a woman caught in the act of adultery before Jesus, he says:
“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. -John 8:7-11a
He frees this woman from shame.
In Psalm 107, the psalmist writes these words:
Some of you were sick because you’d lived a bad life, your bodies feeling the effects of your sin;
You couldn’t stand the sight of food, so miserable you thought you’d be better off dead.
Then you called out to God in your desperate condition; he got you out in the nick of time.
He spoke the word that healed you, that pulled you back from the brink of death.
So thank God for his marvelous love, for his miracle mercy to the children he loves;
Offer thanksgiving sacrifices, tell the world what he’s done—sing it out! -Psalm 107:17-22, The Message
He frees us from eating disorders. From depression. From bondage.
In Galatians 5:1, Paul writes:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Christ has set us free. He sets us free. He will set us free.
When we pray for people to be set free, we are praying the will of our loving Father.
3. Healing– We never see Jesus turn away a sick person who asks for healing.
When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases. -Matthew 8:16-17
“Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed from that moment. -Matthew 9:22
Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith will it be done to you,” and their sight was restored. -Matthew 9:29
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. -Matthew 9:35
And these are just some examples from Matthew 8 and 9!
In Mark 8:22-25, we see another instances where Jesus heals:
They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”
He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.
(Remember this passage…I’m going to be talking about it in the next post as well).
When it comes to healing, we often may not understand the process. In this case, Jesus spit in the man’s eyes to heal his blindness. Umm? But although we may not understand the how, I believe that when we pray for someone to be healed of a disease or injury, we are always praying God’s will to earth.
One last point I want to bring up that I think is important when talking about intercessory prayer is the idea that Jesus is the only intercessor for Paul writes:
For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men- the testimony given in its proper time. -1 Timothy 2:5
So if there is only one intercessor, one mediator, how is it that we intercede for people? How can we pray these prayers of intercession?
Dutch Sheets explains this really well in his book Intercessory Prayer. He points out that our prayers of intercession are always and only an extension of Christ’s work of intercession. When Jesus came to earth, He bridged the gap between the Lord’s Kingdom and this earth- Jesus has interceded for all people. We don’t deliver anyone, we don’t reconcile anyone to God, we don’t defeat the enemy. The work is already done. And yet me must ask for the release and application of these things.
Our prayers of intercession release Christ’s finished work of intercession. His work empowers my prayers- our prayers release his work. -Dutch Sheets
To read the next post, Part 5, click HERE.
To learn more about intercessory prayer, here are some fantastic resources I would recommend:
–Intercessory Prayer: How God Can Use Your Prayers to Move Heaven and Earth by Dutch Sheets – I cannot recommend this book enough. It is Biblically based, informative, and powerful.
-Sermon “God Needs Prayer” by Greg Boyd (Woodland Hills Church).