When you are called to serve God as an intercessor, and you say “Yes” to Him, don’t be surprised where He will place you for the purposes of intercession.
I did an inductive Bible study of Exodus 32-34, looking especially at the role of Moses as intercessor between God and His people. Being an intercessor myself, I was curious what Moses could teach us today about intercession. Following are just a few of the takeaways I learned from studying this passage:
If you have made yourself available to God as an intercessor, don’t be surprised if He prompts you to pray in your dreams. I can remember several instances of prayer during sleep. When I awoke, I knew I had been praying for someone. I’ve heard similar situations from intercessor friends.
Have you ever gone through an intense time of intercession? How did you feel when it was over? Intercessors often tell me they feel “black and blue,” as if they have been in a battle. Or they feel heavy or drained after praying for someone. Intercessors often take people home with them spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. They wrestle all night over what the person is going through.
If this is what intercession is like for you, you may be relieved to know it doesn’t have to be that way. Spiritual cleansing prayers can help you be restored to yourself after a time of intercession. You will find it easier to breathe and go about your life, trusting the person or situation to God’s care.
I am blessed with great friends who are intercessors. Each one is planted in a different environment for the purpose of changing the environment. I am always amazed when I hear their stories of how God moves them in prayer during their workday.
Several of my intercessor friends work in corporate environments. The situations, pressures, personality clashes, different religions represented in those environments are fertile ground for intercession. Their daily prayers at work truly change the atmosphere.
How do they know what to pray, and when? God prompts them. As intercessors, they are available to the Lord throughout their work day, in whatever ways He leads.
I remember my own experience working in corporate America, and I wish I had realized back then that God wanted me to pray. I remember flare-ups, crises, family dynamics, wounded hearts, and just plain daily challenges. At any of those moments, I might have been a vessel for God to change the atmosphere, had I known and been ready.
Are you called as an intercessor and placed in a secular environment? Ask God how He wants to use you to pray and change your atmosphere. Ask Him to tell you the reasons He has appointed you in that place, and what He desires to do through your prayers.
Then go to work every day, alert to your environment and attuned to God’s Spirit. Realize you are not just there to do a job, although your work is important. You are also there as a praying vessel, through whom God can affect the environment for His purposes. Set your heart in tune to His, the same way you would tune your transistor radio into a broadcast channel. Then listen; and be. He will prompt you.
Sometimes His promptings will not be obvious to you. You will simply find yourself praying in the spirit, and not knowing why. Just obey, and do as He leads. At other times, the circumstances will be obvious, and you will know to pray. Again, pray in the spirit, and let the Holy Spirit lead your prayers. He knows what He desires to do in that atmosphere, and He needs a willing intercessor – you! – to say, “Yes, Lord. Please do that. Have Your way here today.”
How amazing to go home at the end of the workday and realize you have lived, actively, in the kingdom of God today.
The corporate environment is just one example. I have another intercessor friend who works at a public school, where as we know, prayers are not allowed by staff. However, because she is attuned to God each day, she knows when and how to pray silently on behalf of the students. As she learns more about prayer, and the ways God works in people’s lives, she is able to pray more specifically. I know other teachers who pray for their students. They may not feel called specifically as intercessors, but there is a wealth of prayer happening at the public schools on any given day, which means God is moving in that atmosphere and changing students’ lives.
Another precious intercessor friend was led on a different path of prayer. She went through a difficult surgical procedure followed by a challenging recovery time. Before her surgery, a group of us prayed with her, and she told us, “I can’t wait for the surgery to be over, so God can start using me.”
What she didn’t realize was how much she had just ministered to us, by sharing how closely she felt to the Lord during this time. What a scary proposition she was facing medically, knowing the difficulties and the risks. She didn’t feel well to begin with, and now she had to accept a really hard road to walk with the Lord. But she focused on Him and felt His presence. She made a point to stay in His presence, and she let God bring her His strength and comfort. Whenever she felt afraid, or weak, she turned to the Lord and was encouraged. What struck me the most was her surrender, her willingness to just “be” with Him, no matter what she had to face.
Because of her peace and her surrender, she was ministering strength and encouragement to us, as we listened and prayed with her. She said she couldn’t wait for God to use her, once this was over. Yet here He was, using her right now.
I told her, “Your ministry has already begun.”
The next week, she went into the hospital for her surgery. Imagine all the ways God used her, as an intercessor, during the prep time at the hospital, with people all around her, and with her allowing the Holy Spirit to flow through her and to affect the atmosphere. Even during the difficult weeks of recovery, imagine how God used her as an intercessor to the hospital staff, to her visitors, and to those who were praying for her. So many people told her during that recovery time, “You have blessed me today.” She gave all the glory to God and told them of His constant presence and love. What a witness. All because she bloomed as an intercessor where she was planted.
When you are called as an intercessor, God intends to use you right where you are. He has placed intercessors all over the world, in every city, in every neighborhood. Some may not be aware of their calling; others may be aware, but unsure of how to step into their calling. But He has placed a network of intercessors worldwide, so that He can change our world.
This doesn’t mean God doesn’t move us around or call us into new environments and seasons. But for this moment, today, ask God how He desires to use you, right where you are.
Are you one of His intercessors? Whether you know you are, and have actively been praying, or whether you think you might be, and don’t know where to start – take this moment to talk with God. Ask Him for His vision for you as an intercessor. Realize that it starts right here, right now. Be ready to listen to Him, and keep your heart attuned to Him. And bloom, right where you’re planted. If every intercessor blooms in our own flower bed, God can truly change the world, and we will see the kingdom of God more and more, around us every day.
Years ago, a little girl took one of my prayer classes. She heard from God easily and had a great relationship with Him. But she didn’t realize at first that not every voice in her mind was God’s.
She had a big decision to make, and she told her mother God told her what to do. Her mother asked, “Are you sure it was God?”
The little girl seemed puzzled. How could the voice she heard not be God?
Her mother explained that not every voice we hear is God. Sometimes we hear the enemy’s voice, and often we hear the voice of our own mind.
After a moment of shock, the little girl expressed her frustration, as she realized not every internal voice she heard was God’s.
Can’t we all relate with that frustration? How much easier life would be if all we heard was God’s voice, telling us clearly and exactly what to do.
If Not God’s Voice, Then Whose?
But we live in a fallen world. The enemy speaks to us, loudly and clearly. His voice often drowns out the still, small voice of God.
The enemy is not the only one talking. Often, we hear a voice louder and more damaging than the enemy’s. It’s the voice of our own mind. The things we say to ourselves, and have taught ourselves to say, can derail us. Our own voice, ringing through our mind, can block what God is trying to say.
Early in life, as we encounter hardships which, as children, we are not equipped to deal with, the enemy begins to tell us lies: “You are no good.” “You are stupid.” “You will never amount to anything.” “You don’t need God’s help, or anyone else’s, for that matter.” This happens as early as in the womb! The enemy starts the process, but we take it over. It’s as if he pushes the button on a tape player, and the tape repeats in our minds, over and over. We are the ones who keep it going, as we continue to block the voice of Father God.
Discerning God’s Voice from the Clutter
When you talk to God and listen for His response, it’s important to quiet your mind and let yourself hear Him. When you receive interference – from the enemy or from your own mind – be still. Turn once again toward God, and submit your mind to Him. Let Him speak in whatever way He desires.
How can you tell whose voice you are hearing? The more you talk with God, and listen, and be still in His presence, the more you will know the sound of His voice. Jesus says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27).
But there are also some checks you can make, to see whose voice you are hearing:
Do the words line up with God’s Word? Then you are probably hearing God. Do the words line up with God’s nature? It’s probably Him.
Do the words sound condemning or unloving? Do the words tear down the value of who you are as a person? That is not God.
Romans 8:1 tells us, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:31 goes on to say, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” God also tells us in John 3:16 that He “did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
God convicts us. But He doesn’t condemn us. When you hear a voice of condemnation, you are either hearing the enemy, or more likely the voice of your own mind. We often choose to beat ourselves up, where God has already forgiven us. We often tell ourselves harsh lies that are opposed to God’s Word.
Whenever you are listening for God’s words to you, check what you hear. Be sure it lines up with Scripture and the nature of God. If you do this check regularly, you will become more finely attuned to God’s presence and His voice.
My article, “Hearing God’s Voice” will help you to practice hearing and discerning through journaling.
“Do you have cotton in your ears?” I remember my grandmother saying this whenever she thought we kids weren’t listening.
Sometimes I feel that way with God – that He knows I’m missing most of what He says. Why?
What Blocked Our Listening When We Were Kids?
Think about what it was like as a kid, when you didn’t listen. What were the reasons?
My list looked something like this:
- Too busy, preoccupied.
- Rebellious – didn’t want to hear, let alone respond.
- Not really sure what the grownups were saying, so I tuned it out, or the words became distorted (like the teacher on Peanuts).
- Didn’t like what I heard, or didn’t want to hear anything a grownup had to say on the matter.
- Believed lies about myself, so whatever was really said became muted, muffled, or lost in translation.
- Too many other voices in my head – mostly different parts of my own mind chastising or ridiculing myself.
- Or just plain overwhelmed and checked out.
Those, and more, are the reasons we as kids often missed what grownups were trying to say to us. We missed helpful advice and direction. We missed expressions of love and concern. We missed fellowship.
The same can happen today in our communication with God. When our spiritual hearing becomes dull, we miss things.
How Can We Tune in to God’s Voice?
As an intercessor, you are no doubt interested in hearing from God clearly and frequently. How can you better attune your spiritual ears to hear Him?
One way is to identify what blocks your hearing.
This requires some heart introspection. What are the things in your heart that stand between you and God?
I went through many years of inner healing ministry to identify and allow God to remove many obstacles that blocked my hearing and my relationship with Him. I strongly recommend inner healing for everyone. We have all “stuff,” and it affects our relationship with God in more ways than just “hearing.”
Praying to Uncover What Blocks Us
Here is a starting point:
Ask God to search your heart and to reveal the things that block you from Him. That is one prayer He is very glad to answer. He began to answer me when I first prayed like this more than 12 years ago. He is still answering me to this day, showing me things in my heart that stand between me and Him.
Ask God to show you:
- What lies you believe that are contrary to what His Word says.
- Where you might hold unforgiveness or bitterness in your heart, or areas of your life where you might need to repent.
- What lies you believe about Him, based on your relationship with primary caregivers in your young life. We often see God based on how we saw those first adults we encountered.
- Where you have become consumed by religion, instead of relationship.
- Any ways that fear or pride might block you from hearing Him.
- Anything and everything in your heart that stands in the way of hearing and responding to Him.
Then realize that Jesus is here to help you pray through these blockages, to be healed, and to be free. Freedom means hearing your heavenly Father’s promptings, and responding to Him in love and prayer.
God Often Speaks in Silence
As an intercessor, it’s important to realize that you might not hear or sense God in ways that you would hear a person who walks into the room and speaks. God will have His own ways of communicating with you, and often His first language is silence. As an intercessor, your heart may simply beat strongly in tune with His, without you hearing a word.
So don’t take silence as an indication that you are not hearing.
But if you feel blocked in hearing from God (it’s usually a distinct feeling), the prayer detailed above can be a helpful starting point for drawing closer to Him and opening your heart even more to Him.
If you would like to learn more about hearing God, I recommend reading this wonderful article, “How Do I Learn to Hear God?” written by my friend Kerri Johnson at The Center for Inner Healing. It’s a quick read, and it gets to the heart of how we hear God.