It’s Thursday, March 26. Welcome back to our daily Lent Journey podcast. My name is Gina. Let’s spend some time focused on God and His word, and pray together.
Theme: We can intercede for God’s grace to others
Scripture: Exodus 32:7–14 (Living Bible)
Intercede is defined by dictionary.com as: to act in behalf of someone in difficulty or trouble, as by pleading or petition; to attempt to reconcile differences between two people or groups; mediate.
In this story, Moses interceded for the Hebrew people. He stood between them and God’s anger, begging God not to punish the people for their astonishing rebellion against Him—almost immediately after He had rescued them from centuries of Egypt’s harsh slavery.
Moses could have just thrown up his hands and said, “Do what You want to them, Lord. They deserve whatever punishment You give them.”
And they did deserve it. But Moses was filled with compassion and he desperately begged God to spare them.
There are other stories like this. Abraham interceded on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah, when similarly God wanted to destroy them because they were full of injustice, violence and evil.
In the book of Job, God instructs Job’s friends to make sacrifices to God in front of Job, and ask Job to pray to God for them, so God would not punish them for speaking wrongly of God.
Jesus, as He died on the cross, interceded with God for those who were murdering Him, saying, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.”
Stephen, in the book of Acts, repeated these words as he was being stoned to death for testifying that Jesus had been raised from the dead and was the Son of God.
In 1 Timothy 2, the writer instructs the young Christian Timothy, “Here are my directions: Pray much for others; plead for God’s mercy upon them; give thanks for all he is going to do for them. Pray in this way for kings and all others who are in authority over us, or are in places of high responsibility, so that we can live in peace and quietness, spending our time in godly living and thinking much about the Lord.This is good and pleases God our Savior, for he longs for all to be saved…”
The language of these examples implies that intercession is done with a determined commitment, and an attitude of great passion and longing. The situation may be desperate. People are in danger of going into eternity separated from God forever. Nations or people groups are in danger of a long delayed, but justice-restoring, judgment after years of injustice, exploiting or oppressing the weak and vulnerable, and worshiping other gods, including their own power and prosperity. Believers are severely oppressed and weakened spiritually, physically, or mentally and emotionally, and need others who are stronger and more refreshed to take up the battle on their behalf through intercessory prayer.
What does it mean for us to intercede for others, and for whom should we intercede?
- We can intercede, as in Timothy, for God’s mercy and grace on our government leaders and all those in authority over us, such as teachers, law enforcement, business and community leaders. They need wisdom and expertise, boldness and compassion. Pray that they would not be tempted by the additional possibility of taking more power or engaging in corruption.
- We can intercede for those who don’t yet know Jesus, that their hearts would soften and open to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and that they would give their lives to Him.
- We can intercede for whole neighborhoods, cities, nations and peoples. Like Moses, Jonah, and others in scripture demonstrate, a city, a nation or a people group are not too large for our intercession. We can pray that God would liberally shower His grace over nations and peoples. We can pray that He would defeat human and spiritual principalities and powers that have enslaved people in a region, or people from a specific ethnic group. Geographic areas or people groups may seem to suffer from a specific sin, such as alcoholism, gang violence, or worship of evil spirits. Or they may be suffering from systemic evils, such as poverty or corruption. We can pray for a movement of the Holy Spirit that would heal nations and peoples from their sin and rebellion and turn them to Jesus Christ. We can pray for the principalities and powers of systemic evil to be broken so that people are set free to live fully into who God created them to be.
- We can intercede for fellow believers who are struggling and oppressed in various ways. We can ask that God set them free from anything that is blocking the full release of His work and power to transform them in Christ.
- We can intercede for our enemies. In Matthew 5, Jesus instructs his followers to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” We can pray for God to bless them, and that they would realize God’s love and be changed by Him.
Every weekend, we have been interceding for nations in a different part of Eurasia. Would you join us on Saturday and Sunday as we intercede for the peoples and the body of Christ in Central Europe? You can also go back to our podcasts and transcripts from earlier weekends to intercede with us for the peoples and nations of other parts of Eurasia, such as the CIS Field or the Middle East.
- Is there something that seems to be blocking God’s full transformative power in your life? Find a trusted, mature Christian friend to intercede with you for a specific period of time, asking for God to give you victory over this obstacle.
- Is there a person, an authority or public figure, a city or a neighborhood, a nation or a people group for whom God may be calling you to commit your prayer for a period of time? Write down a short plan concerning who you will intercede for, what you will intercede about, when each day or week you will pray, and for how long. Will you ask anyone to join you?
Thank You that when we pray for each other, You hear us. Thank You that sometimes You even change Your planned course of action in response to our urgent requests on behalf of others. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for working to bring freedom, new life and transformation in people and people groups when Your Church intercedes for them.
Lord, sometimes we wish we could do more to help people who are suffering and enslaved in sin and don’t know You, or for our brothers and sisters who may be experiencing a time of trial or oppression. And yet, intercession is one of the most powerful things we can do. We thank You that You invite us to go to take up the battle on behalf of other people and that You’ve made this an effective way we can help.
Lord, if there is a person or a group of people who is gripped by an evil or something that is causing suffering, and You want us to intercede for them, please bring them to our mind. Fill us with a deep, desperate compassion for them that will fuel us over a period of time to pray for them consistently with longing and urgency.
And if we need someone to intercede for us, please send us brothers and sisters who will take up the battle for us, mediating with You on our behalf.
Thank You that You listen to our prayers and answer them in the wisest ways that are ultimately only for our good.
We pray all this in the name of Jesus. Amen.