The Ministry of Intercession

“First of all (a priority, not of time, but of importance), then, I urge (see Rom 12:1) that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.” (1Tim 2:1 ESV) Comparing some words (combining various elements of prayer in general)…The ESV Study Bible note is: “Paul's point is not to list all the ways to pray but to pile up various terms in reference to prayer for their cumulative impact. This is a call for all sorts of prayer for all sorts of people.” • Supplications These are urgent requests/petitions to meet a need. The Greek noun is δέησις. The verb δέομαι from which the noun is derived means “to need” or “to lack,” but appears in the NT with the sense of entreaty, or “please” (Acts 8:34 and 21:39). With the exception of Matt 9:38 (Jesus re: the harvest), the term is exclusive to Luke and Paul (Luke 5:12; 9:38; 8:28; 2 Cor 5:20; 10:2; and Gal 4:12). This word refers a type of prayer that asks something of God: e.g. Jesus praying for Peter –Intercession (Luke 22:32; see Heb 5:7), or Paul praying about his plans (Rom 1:10; 1 Thess 3:10). The verb appears in Acts 4:31 (“prayed”) with the action (manner of prayer; urgency about a matter) described in 4:24-30. It is used of earnest intercession performed by Paul in Rom 10:1. • Prayers

This is similar to the above; petitionary prayer to God (both nouns appear in Eph 6:18; 1 Tim 5:5 and Phil 4:6; the present noun and the former verb appear in Rom 1:10). However, the Greek noun προσευχή derived from the verb προσεύχομαι is more restricted in meaning (both noun and verb appear in Jas 5:15-16). That is, where the above “requests” can refer at times to exchanges between people, this action is more sacred and exclusively refers to petitioning God. It is a compound which combines the act of “wish” or “pray” with the preposition “toward.” This term (noun and verb) is a general reference to prayer (e.g. the customary practice of temple-going Jews, Acts 3:1; Matt 21:13), but emphases its nature as communication with God. It may include “requests” (as noted) and also “thanks” (see Eph 1:16; Col 4:2) and other spiritual qualities (e.g. “rejoicing” and “persevering,” see Rom 12:12). The manner of prayer is indicated by the action of being devoted to its exercise (see Col 4:2 and Acts 2:42; 6:4). Within the context of the end times as dominating the spiritual tenor of the age, we are admonished to the chief enterprise of prayer (1 Pet 4:7). We are to pray “believing” (Matt 21:22) and “earnestly” (Jas 5:17). Prayer is also an intercessory enterprise (Rom 15:30). • Thanks The Greek noun is εὐχαριστία derived from the verb εὐχαριστέω meaning “to express gratitude for benefits and blessing –to give thanks; thanksgiving. In English, the Eucharist is a term used with reference to the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:24). Concerning the practice of prayer, these expressions of gratitude are offered in worship to God. Paul describes the one returning thanks as doing so citing its basis (“because,” 1 Cor 1:4; Rom 1:8; 2 Thess 1:3; 2:13). When used as a participle, the term identifies the occasion for which thanks is rendered to God (1 Thess 1:2f; Phil 1:3f; Phlm 4f; Col 1:3f; Eph 1:15f). Those outside the faith (“Gentiles”) are not thankful to God (Rom 1:21). By contrast, believers are obligated to give thanks at all times and occasions for prayer (1 Thess 5:18; Col 3:17).

© Dr. Douglas A. Blanc, Sr. 2013

Intercessions

The Greek noun is ἔντευξις derived from the verb ἐντυγχάνω meaning, “an interview, a coming together, to visit, converse, or for any other cause; that for which an interview is held, a conference or, a petition, supplication. This also is a type of prayer that incorporates requests to God on behalf of a third party; a pleading that is either for or against others. Paul uses the expression also in 1 Tim 4:5. In the extra-biblical literature, the concept of the term refers to any writing addressed to the king to resolve matters with other parties (land disputes, etc.). What can we make of the ministry of intercession from Paul’s comprehensive description of the motivation, manner, and mandate of prayer (he mentions the means/medium as well, Eph 6:18)? The ministry of intercession… 1. As noted above (“First of all…” or “Firstly”), intercession is part of the ministry of prayer; a ministry that is THE priority of the believer’s individual and corporate life. 2. Prayer is a “ministry” because it is to be done “on behalf of all people.” 3. The idea is that by praying we engage God in THE dynamic enterprise that is designed to impact the lives of others for His kingdom. All other activities are secondary to prayer and meaningless without prayer (see John 15:5). 4. Hudson Taylor, pioneer missionary to inland China, referred to his “spiritual secret” as the ability to “move men by God through prayer.” Through intercessory prayer there is a union between ourselves, others, and God. 5. As a particular type of prayer ministry, intercession refers to the privilege of gaining entrance into the presence of a sovereign (see of Esther, Esth 4:16-17). Considered a rare privilege, such an audience would permit one to share a request with either the expectation that an enemy could be defeated or a friend helped. 6. Of all the ministries for the believer to be engaged, intercession shares the unique quality of being performed by the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:26-27 and the Lord Jesus (Heb 7:25; Rom 8:34). 7. Following a lengthy description of spiritual warfare, the apostle Paul noted the primacy of prayer in Ephesians 6:18. The tasks of “praying” and “being alert” with regard to the needs of “all the saints” are linked with what the Spirit of God provides (“in the Spirit”). 8. Prayer issues from a life lived in the atmosphere of the Spirit. To disrupt the fellowship of such a life is to disrupt the effect of prayer (see Jas 5:13-20, where sin is regarded as THE obstruction to faith and confession as the means for living righteously and praying effectively). 9. For the above reasons, the apostle Paul “urges” us to get our priorities in order where ministry is concerned: “Lord, I want to serve you. I will give you my life for this supreme call to service. What would you have me to do?” His answer: “Pray.” It is amazing that the apostle Paul asked similarly. His first act of obedience to God was to pray (Acts 9:11). Why is it so important –for us as well as for those for whom we pray –that we continue to intercede for people even when we don’t feel like it (Did God need to bring Job to this point of spiritual maturity? See Job 42:10) or when their situations seem to get worse the more we pray? What more can we do, but pray? This means that prayer which is born from a life lived in the atmosphere of the Spirit and which determines to lay hold of God until an answer is given, cannot be exceeded by any other means of support. Of course, we can render practical help, but we must never abort the process of prayer until God has revealed the course and we have obeyed. Diligence in the matter of prayer concerns its character/quality and not its exercise. Merely praying more is not helpful if one is praying ineffectively. We ought to concern ourselves with the quality of our intercessions, rather than the quantity. What is impeding this ministry that the Lord has deemed to be my supreme calling?

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