I TERCESSARY PRAYER CHA GES HISTORY By Glenn Pease

Prayer by its very nature implies that we live in an open universe where natural law does govern the vast majority of what happens, but there is openness where man's choices make a difference. If I drop this pen, the law of gravity will take it down, but I still choose to drop it or not. It is not just law that is in operation here, but freedom of choice. We are free to ask God to providentially enter into the whole law of life reality and bring about things that would not be if we had not asked. James says you have not because you ask not. There are things that do not happen because we do not ask them to happen. On the other hand things happen that would not happen because we do ask. Prayer is a demonstration of the reality of freedom in a universe of law.

The Difference I got up early one morning and rushed right into the day; I had so much to accomplish that I didn't have time to pray. Problems just tumbled about me, and heavier came each task. "Why doesn't God help me?" I wondered. He answered, "You didn't ask." I wanted to see joy and beauty, but the day toiled on, gray and bleak; I wondered why God didn't show me. He said, "But you didn't seek." I tried to come into God's presence; I used all my keys at the lock, God gently and lovingly chided, "My child, you didn't knock." I woke up early this morning, and paused before entereing the day; I had so much to accomplish that I had to take time to pray. -- Alan Grant Shout and your voice goes the length of a football field, but pray and your voice goes all the way to heaven. The most powerful example of this, and the greatest reason we need to pray for our nation is found in Ezek. 22:30-31, "I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. 31 So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing

down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign LORD." God wanted to spare his own people. They deserved judgment, but he would have let his grace be a greater force if only there had been someone to intercede on behalf of his people. o one came forward to do so, probably thinking that it was too late, and their flimsy defense would be worthless. The result was, because man did not pray and give God a reason for mercy, that he had to go through with the judgment and pour out his wrath on his own people. God's will in this situation was dependent upon human choices. He would be merciful or wrathful depending, not just on his own will, but on the will of a human intercessor. Everyone who did not pray for God to be merciful brought the fiery wrath of God on his people, and they would be a part of that people who suffered his wrath. They could have been a part of his people who experienced his merciful grace, but they blew it. They had the power through prayer to change history for the better, but they said, " o thanks. I have other things to do."

The end of Job gives us a real look into the importance that God places on intercession. "After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: "My wrath is kindled against you and your two friends; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. ow therefore take seven bulls and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has done." So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the aamathite went and did what the Lord had told them; and the Lord accepted Job's prayer. And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he had prayed for his friends; and the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before." (Job 42:7-10) We know that God sometimes answers a prayer while it is being prayed, but here is a case where he answered it long before it was prayed. His forgiveness of these friends of Job he made dependent upon Job's prayer for them. They deserved judgment, for they were wrong and had really bad theology about suffering, but God was willing to forgive them because Job was willing to pray for their forgiveness. Had Job not been willing, they would also have to come under the wrath of God. Prayer does change God's attitude and response to people. What about the prayer of Jesus from the cross, "Father for give them for they know not what they do." That was an intercession that saved the lives of all the evil men who plotted to kill Jesus. They were spared for nearly 40 years because of that intercession. Most all of the adults who had anything to do with the death of Jesus would have been dead by the time of the great destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A. D. The prayer of Jesus postponed that judgment that the ones responsible for the cross deserved. They escaped by his grace and intercessory prayer. Heb. 7:25, "Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them." Jesus specializes in intercession, and there is no way to know how much judgment is escaped because of this ministry of Jesus on behalf of men. Rom. 8:26, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." The Holy Spirit also specializes in intercession. We should learn from this fact that two of the three Persons of the Godhead are involved in intercession, that it should play a major role in our lives as believers.

Someone wrote, "There is an erroneous idea in contemporary Christianity that those who offer up intercessory prayers are a special class of “super-Christians,” called by God to a specific ministry of intercession. The Bible is clear that all Christians are called to be intercessors. All Christians have the Holy Spirit in their hearts and, just as He intercedes for us in accordance with God’s will (Romans 8:26-27), we are to intercede for one another. This is not a privilege limited to an exclusive Christian elite; this is the command to all. In fact, not to intercede for others is sin. “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you” (1 Samuel 12:23). James Hastings, "With such examples before us, we cannot afford to neglect intercession. Indeed, we may well ask whether we have given anything like an adequate place to this most blessed and wonderful gift from God. The Rev. J. R. Miller has in one of his books a chapter entitled " The Sin of ot Praying for Others," and he writes : " Perhaps we are not accustomed to think of praying for others in just this way as a duty, the omission of which is a sin against God. We think of it as a privilege, but scarcely as a part of love's solemn duty. We are in danger of narrowing our prayers to ourselves and our own wants. We think of our own sorrows and trials, our own duties, our own work, our own spiritual growth, and too often do not look out of the window upon our friend's rough path or sore struggle. But selfishness in praying is one of the worst forms of selfishness. If ever love reaches its best and purest, it ought to be when we are standing before God." ot praying for others is a sin of omission which should be sincerely repented of, and of which no Christian should be guilty again. Prayer assumes that God does not always work by a rigid pattern of law, but he is a person and not a machine, and can act spontaneously and do things because of request. I have a pattern also but if my grand kids came to the door asking for me to do something unusual, I would respond to that request and break my pattern. God is confessing that he is changed by the intercession of man. It is not true that whatever will be will be, for what is going to be, namely wrath, did not have to be. It could have been different had there been prayer. Prayer changes God's plans. God gives man a role in determining history. It is not all predetermined as many Christians teach. There is freedom for man to make a difference. In Matt. 10:1-28 Jesus says, "Pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers." This would be a meaningless exercise if God had already determined who would go, but it was not determined. Man could by prayer make sure that more would go than would if no one prayed. Prayer is a force in the world because God ordained that man would be his partner in determining some of what happens in history.

S.D. Gordon says prayer is war communication. We are soldiers behind enemy lines communicating to our general. This means we each have a role to play in history. God has determined that there are things that will not happen unless men desire them to happen enough to pray for them to happen. If men do not recognize the importance of certain things, they will not receive those things. Jesus said the Father knows what you need before you ask. So He does not need to be informed, but He does need you to know you need it before He will grant it. This does not cover all things, for God in His providence gives us much that we never pray for. Parents will buy their children food and clothing without any request, but a bicycle will probably only be purchases when they desire it enough to ask for it. Here is another example of how

intercessory prayer saved IsraelPsalm 106:19-23At Horeb they made a calf and worshiped an idol cast from metal. 20 They exchanged their Glory for an image of a bull, which eats grass. 21 They forgot the God who saved them, who had done great things in Egypt, 22 miracles in the land of Ham and awesome deeds by the Red Sea. 23 So he said he would destroy them— had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him to keep his wrath from destroying them. Moses became the savior of his people by being an intercessor at the right time. Had he been like those in Ezekiel's time, he would have said, "Let God make the decision to destroy or spare. It is not my job." But he instead made it his job, and he by prayer persuaded God to spare his people who deserved his wrath. One person coming to God to intercede can change the course of history for a whole people. Henry wrote, " When God is coming forth against a sinful people to destroy them he expects some to intercede for them, and inquires if there be but one that does; so much is it his desire and delight to show mercy. If there be but a man that stands in the gap, as Abraham for Sodom, he will discover him and be well pleased with him."

Moses by intercession saves the people of Israel in Ex. 32:9-14, ""I have seen these people," the LORD said to Moses, "and they are a stiff-necked people. 10 ow leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation. 11 But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God. "O LORD," he said, "why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, 'It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth'? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: 'I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.' " 14 Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened." If you believe the Bible, you will see clearly that the intercession of Moses did change God's judgment to mercy. He saved his people by means of intercession. Where can you find a power to match that? Give me a man of God, one man

Whose faith is master of his mind And I will right ten thousand wrongs And bless the name of all mankind. Give me a man of God, one man, Whose tongue is touched with heavens fire And I will flame the darkest hearts With high resolve and pure desire. Give me a man of God, one man, One mighty prophet of the Lord, And I will give you peace on earth Bought with prayer and not a sword. Give me a man of God, one man, True to the vision that he sees And I will build your broken shrines And bring the nations to their knees. One man.

You cannot study these texts and not realize that every believer has a duty to be an intercessor on behalf of others. It is God's will for all of us to lift up those especially who are in danger of judgment, for God loves to back away from judgment and show mercy whenever he finds people who intercede for that end. You have an amazing power with God, so be that one man, or one woman who practices intercessory prayer.

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