Thursday, February 17, 2011

Petitions and Intercessions (How to pray)

"Praying Hands" (study for an Apostl...

I need to make sure that I clarify something. It is possible to take away from my last several posts that petitions before God are of not of use. Nothing can be further from the truth. God acts based on our asking. We ought to go to God in prayer, but when we go we also ought to know what we are praying for (or else praying in the Spirit) and we ought to expect that we (the one offering the petition) will be changed in our hearts or our action. If these expectations are not a part of prayer then we are passive in our prayer and it is more likely that our relationship with God is about as intimate as with a waiter that takes our order at a restaurant. I want more! "Jesus give me more. Pour out Your Holy Spirit!"

Sometimes ministry of intercession requires you to not just take prayer requests at face value. How often I have heard a request, "Please pray for (fill in the name here) they are really struggling." Now I respect if someone asks for privacy in the matter so I am not against that. However, I have no idea what I am to pray for. "God please help them." That seems a silly prayer. If they are a believer He already is doing this. "God please relieve his struggling." Perhaps struggling is part of God's plan. In this case I am praying against God's will. I know that will not be productive. I can only pray in the Spirit at this point because I do not have enough information to offer a petition to God.

Let me give you an example that happened in a prayer meeting just the other day. I am going to leave the names out to respect privacy, but I think it really illustrates what I am trying to get at.

"Please pray for Jane Doe. Her family is very mean to her."
"What is going on?"
"They write mean letters to her, it hurts her, and she does not no what to do?"
"She should stop reading the letters."
"She keeps the letters as evidence for no contact orders."
"Why is she reading the letters?"
"She does not know what to do and she has no support from her family."
Praying in the Spirit, "What does this woman need?"
Spirit to my spirit very clear "What about Spiritual Family?"
"Does she fellowship with other believers?"
"No, She is a Christian."
"Does she go to church?"
"No, but she is a Christian and attends some Bible Studies."

Now the conversation ended shortly after this point and we moved on to other requests, but now I know exactly what to pray for (Conviction to find a fellowship and discernment to choose the right one) and hopefully the friend of Jane Doe has something to recommend to her the next time she talks with her friend. Notice how different the focus would be than if I just took the request at face value. The ministry of intercession is much more active than traditionally conceived. We have to be engaged spiritually.

"Lord help me move from a prayer list mentality to a prayer life mentality. In Jesus Name AMEN"

~BJ


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