Intercessors have a hard time of it. They are the vanguard, pushing the edge, hanging out in unsubmitted territory. They live in the realm of faith and hope—among things unseen, things not yet in their hands. By definition, intercessors are always sojourning in enemy territory — like Joshua sent ahead to scout, to declare the truth, and to lead the people in to possess the kingdom. “Don’t be surprised, as though something strange were happening to you.”(IPt 4:12)The warriors go into conflict, the plow cuts into the rough.
The intercessor’s enemy has a very simple and logical strategy—discourage him by stating the obvious, pointing out what is as plain as the nose on his face. Things like how long he has prayed without seeing an answer, the high fatality rate of thus-and-such a disease, the enormity of the task ahead, or the size of the enemy’s army. The things the enemy shows us are easy to see, because they are natural, physical things.
But we are given the task of seeing the unseen, knowing the unrealized, just as Elisha saw and knew and prayed for his servant to see the Heavenly Army. We have been given authority to declare things that are, but they are not things that can yet be seen with the natural eye, because at best they have only been partially manifested in the natural realm.
Prophetic intercessors receive the authority to pull down from heaven things that God has opened heaven to pour out. On His behalf, they claim what is His and take it back from the one who stole it—because God has shown them that it’s time! They manifest what existed long before in the heavenly realm and is now legitimately breaking into the natural realm. They bring forth in this age the first fruits of the age to come, just as Peter did when he told the lame man at the Temple to get up and walk. They make rough places plain, and then they move on to the next rough, unclaimed place.
“Don’t be surprised, as though something strange were happening to you.”
Doing things first Because they are the vanguard, intercessors have to do things first. If they are moved to pray for conviction of sin, they should not be surprised when their own sins are the first to bear the light. When they pray for repentance to fall upon the church, they will find themselves stricken with sorrow for sin. As they pray for God’s heart to be manifest in the church, they can expect the very challenges in their own relationships that will call for supernatural love. As they pray for healing gifts they can expect to start tripping over the sick. As they pray for outpourings of faith, they should not be surprised by an onslaught from the discourager that challenges them to exercise that faith before they see it around them. As they pray for change, they will feel the pressure of the resistance. As they pray for prophetic words, they may find that they are the ones who hear them and must speak them. Intercessors are the vanguard; they go in first.
An experienced complainer When I first heard the call to intercede I only had experience in complaining to God about my own desires and needs. I didn’t have anybody but myself on my heart, and I knew it. When I tried to pray for others, it was like walking through mud up to my knees; the suction was almost more than I could break, and I was always in a sweat. But I knew that God is a God who supplies what he requires, so I said yes. I didn’t even want to pray for others, but I said yes.
That was the first lesson. The territory we take is not illumined by natural light or seen by the natural eye or taken by natural strength. It is taken—against natural instinct and inclination—by spiritual sight and supernatural means. We are not guessing. We are not wishing. We are not idealists in a state of optimistic denial. We are standing on the Word of God Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth. We are acting in obedience to the Master of the Universe, going with a flow that is inexorable. We know the One we believe; we trust the word of the Absolute; we stand on the sure Foundation.
When we move within the authority of His name, we are inexorable as well. Cancer. Depression. Addiction. Perversion. Nothing stands against God’s Word; no stronghold survives against Him. No matter what we see with the natural eye or recall throughout a lifetime of unrealized hopes, we know that any enemy stronghold is so much tissue paper against the sword of the Word of God.
Seeing with spiritual eyes An intercessor has to give up using his natural eyes in order to see the answer. He has to close his mind to the liar. He does this more and more easily as his prayer life increasingly manifests Paul’s exhortation to “pray constantly.”
“Do not be surprised, as though something strange were happening to you.” The enemy will lie to us, but the more time we spend in God’s presence, the less time and space his lies can take up in our heads and the less credence we can give his nonsense. This freedom is the logical outcome, because the more time we spend in God’s presence, the better we know who He is. And the better we know who He is — in all His glory and majesty and power — the less afraid we are of His enemy. When the enemy says, “This depression is too hard, too entrenched, too habitual, too deep,” we’ll laugh. Because in God’s presence we have seen sorrow and sighing flee away. We know the enemy is just hustling for time. He’s powerless. He just hopes we’ll believe him long enough to leave him alone during our lifetimes.
Intercessors become healers, teachers and encouragers. They manifest every spiritual gift—because they bring about what they pray for through their faith, and their faith is manifest in their works.
Rolling out the carpet of welcome Intercessors become prophets because they seek God’s heart and He reveals it to them. They become exhorters and leaders because they know what God is up to. And they know what He is up to, because they spend so much time in His presence that they SEE it. They see it unfolding like a red carpet before Him, and they put their hands behind it and PUSH! They push it on their hands and knees until it gets lighter, then they get up on their feet and push until it gets lighter still. Finally they give it a kick and watch it unroll away before them faster than they can keep up.