I believe that all Christians are called to intecessory prayer and its something I've been involved with for much of my Christian life. However, I've been struggling a bit with what is for me, a new understanding of intercessory prayer using the House of Prayer model and decided it was time to get serious with God over the issue.
During the Friday night prayer watch, I felt disorientated and at a loss as the prayers seemed to sway this way and that, and I could never seem to catch up, let alone have the scriptures to hand from which I wanted to pray. All in all quite stressful.
As soon as I was in my car I cried out to the Lord in frustration, as I seemed perfectly eloquent and comfortable praying to Him on my own. "Lord, why can't I pray comfortably like this in the prayer watch?"
He answered me very simply, "Sarah, you were not prepared".
I spent some time with Him and asked Him to guide me and explain why I was having trouble preparing. Below is a summary of our conversation.
In all relationships, be it with your child, parent, spouse, neighbour, friend or someone you are simply doing business with, there are varying degrees of chit chat and conversation. Sometimes, we are talking to one another about simple things like the weather, or complimenting one another or giving thanks and praise for deeds carried out for us or on our behalf. This is really important dialogue as it keeps the relationship fresh and alive on a daily basis.
God loves it when we chat to him like this – He enjoys our comments on what we observe, our thanks for the parking space etc, and all that He does for us. It keeps us close to Him at all times during our day, and prevents us from ever feeling alone no matter what our circumstances.
When we're socialising and enjoying life we have fun conversations while taking part in the things that remind us we're alive and in love – we laugh and play, and comment on how great the music, view, environment, etc is. Spending time with others in this way, deepens the relationship and builds knowledge and trust of one another.
God loves this. It's an expression of worship!
As our earthly relationships develop to a slightly deeper level we may choose to share the burden of a decision, or a problem we're not able to solve, or ask for help with an issue the other has experience in.
God also loves this type of communication, because He always has the answer, and He is always right. It delights Him to guide us and give us wisdom and revelation on the things we get concerned over – whether we take His advice is quite another matter!
Then we have the deeper still. These conversations might be over big issues in our lives, whether to marry, move, change career, etc. During these conversations in the natural, the person with the issue and decision to make often does most of the talking, going over and over things looking for guidance, solutions and courage to take the right path. The person listening may give good advice based on sound principles, but ultimately it is the person with the decision to make, that makes the ultimate choice.
God loves to be involved with us with these big issues. He has given us a whole bible full of sound doctrine and knowledge of Him and many examples of the consequences should we choose to ignore His way. He's given us an amazing example in Jesus, one who has faced every temptation that we do, and He has given us His glorious Holy Spirit to lovingly advise, guide and empower us to choose wisely.
All of the above types of conversations are dialogues between more than one person. Each type of conversation takes you deeper and you wouldn't necessarily have all types of conversation with all of your relationships – except for God.
He sees and knows all, nothing escapes His notice and He can be trusted at every level. He wants to engage with us on every type of dialogue.
But there is another type of conversation that we have with those we are deeply involved with. It's more of a "down to business" type conversation. Practical, not necessarily "touchy feely", but most definitely essential.
These are our business conversations. In the here and now we discuss who we will choose to provide our utilities; what our budget for our living expenses looks like; what car to drive; where to go on holiday; which university, living location or job to choose, what investments to make, etc. These conversations may or may not be "fun" but they need preparation. They don't always produce euphoric feelings, but they simply are an essential ingredient in a good relationship.
I believe, the Lord showed me that the intercession He is asking of me in the House of Prayer is this type of conversation.
I need to arrive for the meeting with Him, prepared in the knowledge of what I am going to be asking Him for. This is not the time for personal, intimate requests but rather the "getting down to business" type of prayers for the essential environment to come about, to facilitate His return.
Prayer for the church, the nation and for justice. These prayers may or may not make me feel lovely, but they are necessary and they are heard and taken notice of by the Creator Himself. As I engage in this work of intecession, it will bring me closer to Him, with a deeper knowledge of Him and His desires.
He has given us the overall plan, the immediate prescription and instruction on how to administer His ways that will deliver the ultimate goal of Jesus' return. In Psalm 2:7 Jesus himself gives us the model as He declares back to the Father what the Father has already told Him. If Jesus prays out of scripture so should we. It doesn't mean that we won't still have the chit chat, light, funny and ad hoc conversations with the Lord, but it means that when we're called to get down to God's business, we don't waste a lot of hot air trying to come up with clever words to get God to do as we see fit, but that we will be prepared with what He has already given us in His Word, to speak back to Him to be released with the full power of the Almighty.
I love business - it's been a passion of mine for many years - I have had successes and failures within it! I have decided to take the view that the prayer watch meeting is about doing business with God, - His family business. I realise that knowing in advance what I am going to pray doesn't negate my relationship with Him just because it's not spontaneous, but rather, it is a sign of my commitment to Him that I will go prepared and ready. Of course, He may choose to bring spontaneity whenever He likes, and I will enoy it if He does, but, the business will get done!