“No person can pray for the world unless the Spirit interprets to them the world’s agony, and the Spirit cannot interpret the world’s agony to any person unless that person lives in the midst of the world’s agony.”
— G. Campbell Morgan (1863–1945)
The gift of discernment in the prayer of intercession, as far as the Spirit is concerned, is dependent on spiritual participation: in the struggles, spiritually, of those we’re interceding for. This is why the best intercessors I’ve seen are those who actively feel, in a very visceral sense, the burdens of others, and, in that way, have felt compelled into prayer — that being the only form of reconciling the pain they cannot help but feel and enter into, for they cannot avoid it.
Intercessory prayer, therefore, is not for the faint-of-heart. It’s not a spiritual gift we seek or accept lightly. It is a gift however of discerning the fear and favour of God, in the mode of a presentation of the Lord, in our mortal flesh. Intercession is not as much about situating ourselves in the other person’s shoes as it is about embodying the mind of Christ and the heart of the Spirit in another person’s life.
So, if we acknowledge that intercession, as a gift of prayer for others, is first and foremost about seeking and exemplifying the mind of Christ and the heart of the Spirit, and we’re ready to suffer the other person’s burden as God presently is, then we’re ready to walk into their spiritual battle with them. This is never done physically with them; only spiritually.
Enduring God-Willed Agony: Prerequisite for Intercession
Prayer, such forth, can be a mighty lonely road where only the Spirit might know the torment within, in bearing the concerns that only God might otherwise know.
Who would embark on such terrible loneliness unless they were indelibly called? Nobody. And the grandest test of the call to pray is the accompanying call to suffer.
The accompanying call to suffer is not something just anyone is satisfied to accept. But it’s the prerequisite for being an intercessor.
The intercessor is happy to quietly endure sufferings that nobody else has any idea about. Like the attitude we have when we fast and pray (Matthew 6:1-8), we don’t draw attention to the states of endurance we’re privileged to bear. It’s an honour to do such spiritual work; a work for the Kingdom.
Intercessory prayer implicates a spiritual cost that manifests many ways, including physically. If such a cost is not required of us — i.e. we don’t feel the agony — then we may not be called to intercede within the depths of God’s Spiritual ministry into lives around us. This doesn’t mean we don’t pray. We must pray as we’re led. And we should very well intercede wherever God’s Spirit leads — we’re just perhaps not called into the depths of spiritual intercession ministry.
A spiritually gifted intercessor bears the marks of suffering, enduring them with acceptance. They know that their ministry is essentially a spiritual one.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.