The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
—James 5:16b (NIV)
Prayer is a normal part of a believer’s routine. We pray during worship services, for our food, before we fall asleep at night or when we wake up in the morning. We pray at Bible studies, in Sunday school and at prayer meetings. Yet when you look at these times spent “in prayer,” they are brief and short on content. Our busy lives make it easy to fall into the habit of grabbing a quick prayer time much like we grab a quick meal at a drive through. And those prayers can become like the dollar we put in a machine to buy a soft drink. Fast, easy and especially all about us. So what else is there?
The Bible is replete with verses instructing us to pray, how to pray and what to pray for. A Google search will bring lots of formulas and quick instructions for framing the words to say. Yet for many the practice of prayer never goes beyond a few minutes. In Isaiah 59:16 however, we find that God is looking for someone to go deeper. He is looking for someone to stand in the gap, someone to fight for another through intercessory prayer.
Profound intercession is not just a quick request. It consists of time spent staying before God when everyone else is in bed or up going about their daily routine. It is engaging with and experiencing oneness with the Father, entering into spiritual warfare to fight against the dark forces that battle for our lives, the lives of our families and our friends. It isn’t superficial and it isn’t quick. And it is not something reserved only for super-spiritual believers. Each of us has what it takes—the willingness to give our time and commitment. Offering ourselves to the Holy Spirit and then casting our weakness before God’s strength as we plead for His consuming power can bring change. Change to the situation, change to another, but also change in us as we experience the intimacy resulting from complete submission to Him.
We have the freedom to come before the throne of God boldly but most of the time we do not take full advantage of that open door. Not knowing details about a situation is not a good excuse. All we have to do is go straight to God and be ready to stand in the gap for another. The Holy Spirit will prompt our hearts and guide us as we dive into deep waters to intercede.
We may never know the difference our interceding prayer makes for someone or a situation, yet we will have the knowledge of time spent following His lead.
Discernment is God’s call to intercession, never to faultfinding.
—Corrie Ten Boom