intercede |ˌintərˈsēd| [ intrans. ]
intervene on behalf of another : I begged him to intercede for Theresa, but he never did a thing.
a third party was called in to intercede
mediate, intermediate, arbitrate, conciliate, negotiate, moderate; intervene, interpose, step in, act; plead, petition, advocate.
intercession |ˌintərˈse sh ən| noun
the action of intervening on behalf of another : through the intercession of friends, I was able to obtain her a sinecure.
• the action of saying a prayer on behalf of another person : prayers of intercession.
-New Oxford American Dictionary and Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus
Like many Christians, my definition of “intercede” and “intercession” are based mostly on the action of praying on behalf of someone else. But lately, I’ve been challenged by these other definitions. It wasn’t so much that my heart was challenged through reading a dictionary definition, though, so let me explain.
A couple of weeks ago a visiting team from Ireland did drum watches around Pattaya.
drum watch |drəm wä ch| noun
a period of vigil during which persons gather in a drum circle for prayer, worship and intercession, usually for two hours.
Call it what you will. A drum watch, a prayer meeting, an intercession set, Midnight Oil, a prayer walk or whatever, really, the concept isn’t anything new. Nor is taking it to the roof of a building overlooking one of the worst streets in the city. Or going for a prayer tour of the city via boat or other means of transportation. Or taking it to a beach that my Thai teacher calls “The Coconut Bar” and inviting bar girls to come and join the “concert.” Ok, so maybe that last part is a bit more out there, but you get the idea. Our acts of intercession are generally regulated to the realm of prayer and while we sometimes invite unbelievers to our gatherings or meet in unconventional places or choose to walk in a prayerful manner that’s about as “out there” as we get. (I’m choosing for this moment to not address prophetic acts, decrees and sounds that we make in the place of prayer. Such things have been discussed at great length by those with more wisdom than I.)
Christians who feel a call to prayer and intercession and devote their lives to it are often questioned saying, “What do you do?” The church is beginning to come to a very basic understanding of the importance of intercession to change the tide, to turn a nation to God, to draw people to repentance. And I’m not denying that or trying to take away from the importance of that at all… Obviously, God calls us to cry out to Him on behalf of others.
What I am wondering is this: Is prayer and intercession more than what we think? Is it more than time spent in the prayer room? Is it more than talking to God, travail, and declarations and all the rest that we associate with prayer?
Maybe a little Hebrew/Greek lesson will help clarify what I mean:
paga` (Strong’s 6293) verb
to encounter, meet, reach, entreat, make intercession, to meet, light upon, join, to meet (of kindness), to encounter, fall upon (of hostility), to encounter, entreat (of request), to strike, touch (of boundary), to cause to light upon, to cause to entreat, to make entreaty, interpose, to make attack, to reach the mark
entygchanō (Strong’s 1793) verb
1) to light upon a person or a thing, fall in with, hit upon, a person or a thing
2) to go to or meet a person, esp. for the purpose of conversation, consultation, or supplication
3) to pray, entreat
4) make intercession for any one
Maybe I’m hitting crazy here, but it seems to me that the English and Biblical origins of the word for intercession all indicate action that takes place beyond the place of prayer as we have defined it. Yes, we can take a very biblical approach and say that all of these things do happen in the place of communing with and petitioning our Great Intercessor. God desires that we enter into the fellowship of intercession. But wasn’t His greatest act as our intercessor when He hung between heaven and earth? Isaiah 53:12 reads:
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
For the longest time, I have thought that His intercession was made after He ascended to the Father. I believe this is true. But I also believe that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. If He is now the Great Intercessor who ever lives to make intercession for us, wouldn’t it make sense that all of His humanity was built on acts of intercession? What if coming through a virgin birth and being born into a world that disregarded Him was intercession? What if astounding the teachers of the law by instructing in the way of love was intercession? What if being rejected and despised by men, associating with tax collectors and sinners, and raising the standard of holiness was intercession? And what if bearing the sins of us all was His greatest act of intercession for us? I want to argue that He came to mediate, intermediate, arbitrate, conciliate, negotiate, moderate; intervene, interpose, step in, act, plead, petition, and advocate. With us. Yes, he stands before God the Father and makes intercession for us. But He came to stand before us, intervening on behalf of a lovesick Father who was longing for His children.
I fully believe that God intends that His church be a house of prayer and that place requires that we stand before God, intervening on behalf of mankind. Maybe it’s just me, but perhaps being a house of prayer is more than having rooms set aside for prayer and worship 24/7 (though I’m not discrediting that expression of a house of prayer). Perhaps a house of prayer is more than prayer caves (though I’m not discrediting that expression of a house of prayer). Perhaps it is more about building a lifestyle of prayer, of being wont to make intercession everywhere. And maybe, just maybe prayer and intercession is not just asking God to intervene… maybe it is us intervening as He leads. Maybe intercession is us reaching out to the broken, the lost, the destitute, the ones who bear labels instead of identities. Maybe it is us living an offensive lifestyle.
The challenge that was presented through this team coming to Pattaya was, “What does it look like to live as the chaplaincy for a street? For a city?” Or to use biblical terms, “What does it look like to live as a king and a priest for a city?” And the unstated question was, “Can that be separated from being a house of prayer?” I’m beginning to believe that intercessors are ones who love not our lives to the death, just as the Great Intercessor did not love His life to the death.
If I am off my rocker, I welcome you to tell me. These are all just the musings of an intercessor beginning to wonder, just what it means to stand between the porch and the altar.
One thought on “Standing Between the Porch and the Altar”
I loved this insight. I don’t think you are off the mark at all. What a cool revelation God has given to you. There is absolutely nothing wrong with those who intercede in prayer but I agree with you that we are called to intercede on a personal level, too. Jesus didn’t hide away in a building. He hit the streets and acted on behalf of those in need. Prayer is crucial and we need to be actively praying at all times. But the way to show God’s love oftentimes is to physically do something for someone in need. I love your heart, Amy! Good word!