Intercession: Standing in the Gap
Today we are moving outwards on our prayer journey and beginning to think about praying for others.
Intercessory prayer can be confusing at the best of times! Our whispered prayers can seem feeble, foolish and futile against the sheer scale of life’s troubles—a butterfly confronting a cliff.
And yet the Bible teaches that our prayers are vastly powerful. That’s why, in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus doesn’t just instruct us to pray personally for daily bread, but also for regime change: the coming of God’s kingdom on earth. Elsewhere, the Apostle Paul urges us to intercede "for kings and all those in authority". And in the Old Testament, God makes an astounding promise regarding the importance of prayer at times of national disaster: If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. The forgiveness of sins and the healing of the land are entirely contingent upon the intercession of God’s people. What task could possibly be more important, more urgent for our world today?
Users of the London Underground will be familiar with the phrase, "mind the gap". These three words, painted along the edge of curved platforms, are announced whenever a train arrives at many stations. To intercede is to "mind the gap" between heaven and earth, or, as the dictionary puts it, to "intervene or mediate between two parties as the equal friend of both".
At the time of Ezekiel, God searched, in vain, for someone to "stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so that I would not have to destroy it". Intercessors are those who "stand before God in the gap on behalf of the land". They mediate between heaven and earth as equal friends of both, pleading with God on behalf of people, and with people on behalf of God.
Let’s take a moment to think of someone we know, a political situation, global crisis or world leader that needs prayer right now. Spend some time bringing this person or situation before God and asking for his divine intervention.
God, I lift my prayers before you now and stand in the gap. Would you intervene powerfully in this situation? In Jesus' name, Amen.