Intercession

June 14, 2015    I Timothy 2:1- 8    Supplication & Intercession 

 

    This is an interesting passage because a number of translations use the word supplication in it.  The NIV translation uses the word request and others use the word supplication.   I ask a couple of people this week if they thought there was a difference between supplication and intercession.   I thought that intercession was when you prayed for others and supplication was not but supplication is used for praying for others also.  A couple of commentators make minor differences between the 2 types of prayer.   I did not see in my bible dictionary any difference between the words.  I also looked up in Strong’s concordance and I looked up verses for both words in the bible.   For those that like to dig into the bible you can do a further study on it.  Both of these words mean tie together.    Supplication and intercession both have meanings of strong urgent praying and both words are used with the idea of praying for others. 

    There are different kinds of prayer.  Which one is the most effective?   It is the one that the Holy Spirit wants you to pray for the situation you are in.  If you are in spiritual warfare prayer and you have unconfessed sin that can be not only very dangerous but unsuccessful.   Sin hinders any prayer.  There is prayer of thanksgiving, prayer of worship, prayer of confession and repentance, praying in agreement with another, group prayer, there is binding and loosing prayer, I would say warfare prayer, there is persevering prayer, supplication prayer, intercession prayer and waiting on God and in the middle of all of those is faith.  Without faith it is impossible to please God. 

    I Timothy is an instruction to Timothy on how the church is to act.  In chapter 3 Paul gives instruction concerning an overseer or bishop or elder and deacons.  There should be order and structure in the church.  As Paul starts that instruction for churches in chapter 2 he tells Timothy that first of all there should be prayer.  Jesus said my house shall be called a house of prayer.   Prayer is very important.  I suspect that prayer is put on the back burner in many churches today especially in Sunday celebration time.  I am thankful for our prayer request time. Peter Deyneka would say much prayer, much prayer, much prayer, no prayer no power. 

    In this passage Paul says I urge you that first of all I want all kinds of prayers including thanksgiving to be made for all men.  Want to know what God’s will is?  God wants everybody to be prayed for.   Paul wants everybody prayed for.  That means the lost and the saved.   God can touch any person.  Everybody prayed for and give thanks to God for everybody.  And he wants the leadership prayed for. Who was the leader in Paul’s day?  Nero and that means they were to pray for Nero. I think it was after this letter was written that Nero burned Christians at the stake.   Lord do I have to pray for this government leader that I do not like?   Do I have to give thanksgiving to God for him or her?   If we gave thanks to God for more people there would be less division and divisiveness.   Sometimes we have a difficult time giving thanks for the saints how much more an issue to give thanks for the sinner.

     In verse 8 Paul tells us how to pray for people.  He writes men everywhere should lift up holy hands in prayer without anger and disputing.   We never put our self above the one we are praying for.  We identify with them.  That is what Jesus did for us.  He became our brother.  In Hebrews scripture says he was not ashamed to call us brothers.  Yes Jesus is also Lord.  Jesus did not stay up in heaven and look down on us.  Sometimes we want to look down and be critical of someone.  If you are looking down you are not looking up.  Jesus was moved with compassion.   Prayer needs to be genuine and from the heart. 

    I want to take a few minutes to consider a passage in Romans 8 that deals with intercession because it is very important.  In Romans 8 we see that the creation is struggling.    In verse 22 Paul writes the whole creation groans and travails in pain.   Creation did not groan before sin.  The good news is that the groaning is not forever.  The travail is not forever and our weaknesses are not forever.   The pain will leave.  In this passage we see that we have some help. 

    Holy Spirit prays for us.      In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans or with groans that words cannot express.    And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.  The Holy Spirit works for us and is involved with us.  Jesus said his yoke is easy and his burden is light.  The spirit of God is very active in our lives.  We get a sense that the praying is fervent.  It is a deep prayer.  Those prayers I believe are lifted to heaven.  The Holy Spirit helps us with our infirmities and our weaknesses.

     In verse 34 we see that Jesus intercedes for us.  Jesus is at the right hand of God praying for us.  Jesus is praying for you.   Jesus did not die on the cross and wash his hands of you and say well my work is over.  That maybe how man operates but not how God operates.   Hebrews 7:25 therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.  Jesus intercedes for us.  We can see that the Holy Spirit is involved with prayer and we can see that Jesus is involved with prayer for us for you.  When Jesus was on the earth he prayed fervently.  Hebrews 5:7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.   Jesus prayed fervently when he was on the earth and I think he still prays fervently. 

     Are you involved with prayer?   Do you pray fervently?   I think God would have us pray fervently.  I think God would have us pray for others fervently.  I think it is something we need to cultivate.  For those that want a nice garden there is some work that must go into it.   It has to be tended.  You have to pay attention to it.   For those that would walk close to God and be a person of prayer we must put some time in it.  One way to cultivate it is when someone comes to your mind stop and pray for them.   Maybe God would have you call them.   Ask the Holy Spirit to prompt you to pray.   I am sure God would honor your request.   In Isaiah 59 God says truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.  The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice.   He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene or intercede. God was appalled because man did not intercede.    In Ezekiel 22:30 which I have shared many times God says I sought for a man among them who would stand in the gap.   God has told us to pray and to intercede.  God says I am looking for men and women who will pray.  I must ask myself if I am praying fervently for VBS and for the lost.  

    Fervent prayer has changed the world.  One man who prayed fervently was John Knox.  John Knox was described as low in stature and of a weakly constitution.   A contemporary of John Knoz was Thomas Smeaton who said "I know not if God ever placed a more godly and great spirit in a body so little and frail."    When that frail body went to his knees, Mary, Queen of Scots, trembled. She said she feared the prayers of John Knox more than the combined armies of Europe.  
Larry Christenson in his book, The Christian Family, says John Knox prayed with such power that all Scotland was awakened.  He goes so far as to attribute the whole reformation of Scotland to Knox's prayers.   He writes, "'Lord, Give me Scotland or I'll die!' [Knox] cried. And he prayed with such intensity that the Lord answered."  I have thought about Knox lately and been praying for a difficult situation.  I know my prayers can move that person. 

    William Booth wrote "You must pray with all your might. That does not mean saying your prayers, or sitting gazing about in church or chapel with eyes wide open while someone else says them for you. It means fervent, effectual, untiring wrestling with God...you can be sure this kind of prayer the devil and the world and your own indolent, unbelieving nature will oppose. They will pour water on this flame."   God desires to give to you that kind of a heart.  God looks for people who will pray even in the middle of the night.

  We see that kind of prayer in the Old Testament with Hannah.  Hannah wanted a child.  She desperately wanted a child.  She was in Shiloh where they went to offer sacrifices to the Lord.   She had been crying and not eating because she wanted a child.   She was praying with such fervor that her lips would quiver and Eli thought she was drunk.  Eli says to her how long will you keep on getting a drink?   He did not understand the agony of her soul.  God probably wanted Hannah to have a child the whole time but God waited until Hannah was consumed with desire.   God waited until Hannah would give that child to God and then God granted her request.  .

    With supplication and intercession prayer the person praying can be just like Hannah.   I will not be satisfied until this happens.  I will not give up.  I will pursue with all my heart.  My mind my heart my soul my body is committed.  God will hear me.  I will lay hold of this.  I will not be denied.  I will persevere.  I will labor and I will see results.   A lot of folks are committed like that to make money but how many Christians are like that?   I will not tolerate that behavior in my child.  I will not allow that in my house.  I will not eat that.    Fervent prayer comes from great desire.  Let the Holy Spirit give you that kind of desire.  You cannot manufacture it.  It comes from the Lord.  What are your desires?   Do you want to see your children walk wit Jesus?   Do you want to see people healed?   Do you want to see people saved?  Take that desire and water it and cultivate it.   Turn that desire over to Jesus and see it grow. 

    When Paul writes I urge that request or supplications prayers intercessions and thanksgiving be made for all men he means fervent prayer.   It is not well there is ole Joe and Lord bless ole Joe today.  We can pray and not even think about the words we say.  Paul wants our life to be into it.  Paul wants the person praying to put some energy and our life into it.  I know a dear saint who weeps when she prays.  That is imparting or giving my life to another person.  There is personal involvement.  Jesus when people touched him and they were healed he felt the power leave him. Real prayer is a ministry and it is a drain and therefore many people do not do it.  Jesus is still praying for us and still giving his life for us.  The Holy Spirit intercedes for you with groaning that cannot uttered or spoken.   The Holy Spirit imparts his life to you and me.  And God the father hears our prayers and stoops to answer our requests.  It is amazing that God would hear our prayers and open heaven   This great creator God humbles himself to be involved in our life because God loves you!  I have to ask myself if I really love someone wouldn’t I be offering up fervent prayer for them?   I think your prayers for this church indicate how much you love this church.  

   Paul gives us the foundation for answered prayer in this text.  In verse 5 God tells us that there is only one mediator between Himself and man.  Jesus is the basis of answered prayer.   In Jesus we have forgiveness. In Jesus we can come boldly into the throne of God.   It is through Jesus blood.  Job wanted a mediator in the Old Testament.   Job wanted someone to take his case before God.  Jesus takes our case before the father.  Our loving savior intercedes for us before the father in heaven. It is not another person it is Jesus.  It is not a second rate person.  God gave that role to Jesus. 

   We pray to please God.  We pray because we are commanded to pray.  I pray not to have my will done in heaven but to have God’s will done in me.  We pray because God is looking for people who will pray and intercede.  We pray for others because everybody needs prayer.  We pray because God answers prayer.  We pray because it is a privilege to pour out our life for others.