The Heart of an Intercessor

 
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When I think about intercessory prayer, two images always comes to mind. First, I envision a room full of believers praying with a specific intent; most of the time for a miracle, breakthrough or revival. Voices are lifted with unceasing passion. There is almost a war-like atmosphere where strongholds are being broken, petitions are being lifted and people are bent over on their knees crying out to God. Then, I imagine a lone individual in a quiet room on his or her knees, silently uttering sincere words. Lips moving, but no audible sounds. A deep urgency is communicated in the individual’s prayers as he or she rocks back and forth with both eyes shut.

Both images are what I have associated with intercessory prayer for many years. With an eagerness to live out my convictions to intercessory prayer, I desperately wanted to see these images transpire in my life. On the contrary, there were many times I would be disappointed by my prayer life. There were occasions where I gathered people to pray but only a few people would show up. Even among these few,  most would not lift their voices at all or would fall asleep a few minutes into our meeting. Privately, I would sit in my room on my knees and try to pray for specific people and even the nations, only to feel like I am running out of words a few minutes into my prayer time. I would doze off and later feel guilty for not being able to engage in intercessory prayer for even thirty minutes!

Despite my ups and downs, I could not shake off the desire to go deeper in my prayer life, specifically intercessory prayer. More recently, I have realized God is not concerned with the form of intercessory prayer as much as He is looking at the heart of an intercessor. He is not looking at the number of people in a prayer room or how loud our voices are. He is not concerned with the minutes of prayer we clock in. He actually doesn’t care what we look like when we pray, whether we are on our knees or standing up. Rather, He is looking for hearts that are closely aligned to His. He loves to answer our prayers, but He is looking for those who pray in accordance with His will, desires and pleasure.

Having the heart of a Christ-centered intercessor requires two things:

1.      Knowing the heart of God: At first, this can sound so vague! What does “knowing” the heart of God mean? However, Scripture makes it clear that it is possible to know the heart of God by knowing what pleases Him (Rom. 12:2, 1 Jn. 3:22, Eph. 5:10). In reality, we can only know what pleases God if we know His word and let it shape and transform our hearts so our very desires and thoughts are in accordance with His. This is the beginning of true intercessory prayer – As we begin to understand what pleases God, our prayers change to be directed towards His glory and aligned to His will.

2.      Love for His people: Throughout the Bible, there are countless prayers lifted by intercessors compelled to lift up their voices due to their love for God’s people. Specifically, in the life of Nehemiah, he wept, prayed and fasted when he saw the ruined walls of Jerusalem and the suffering of the exiled Israelites (Neh. 1:3-4). He then lifted up a prayer on behalf of the Israelites. In time, God miraculously answered His prayers! True intercessory prayer is always motivated by love for God’s people, whether it is for the poor in spirit, persecuted, lost and broken. God desires to answer prayers for His glory, which He desires to demonstrate through our lives.

As believers, we are called to intercessory prayer because God desires to works through our prayers. True intercessory prayer requires persistence as we begin to understand the truth: intercession is not about the amount of minutes we pray or how many people are gathered in a room. When we arrive at the understanding that intercessory prayer is about knowing the heart of God and loving others, our attitudes and expectations towards our prayer lives change. We understand that God looks at the internal and not the external; the heart and not the form of our prayers.

Andrea Chung is a wife, mother, and on staff with The Meeting Place TMP. She attended University of California, Davis where she studied Sociology. She furthered her education at UCLA where she received a M.A. and Ph.D. in Comparative Education. 

 
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