By: Sallie Morley
“He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied . . .” (Isaiah 53:11).
IN NO REALM of the Lord’s work, or in the prayer life, does the Christian meet more resistance from powers of spiritual darkness than when praying for a lost soul. If a soul is of infinite value to God, it must be very valuable to the devil also, considering the way he builds bulwarks around those whom he has in his power.
It is not necessarily difficult to pray for religious projects that we have on our minds, or to seek the Lord’s
blessing on certain programs that we have planned. But when we make up our mind to “pray through” for some lost soul until we can feel the victory, right from the start we feel an opposition so strong that we
are tempted to give up before we begin. We doubt that the person can really be saved, or that now is the time. Or our own spiritual weakness rises up before us, and we seem not to have strength to go on. So we stop praying and get busy doing something else. It is always easier to do than to pray.
No wonder the Bible admonished us to PERSEVERE in prayer. PERSEVERING is pushing, forcing our way into the Holy of Holies. Intercessory prayer is hard work-soul labor. Sometimes the darkness is so great we cannot feel the presence of God. We seem to be struggling alone, but as we PERSEVERE, the anointing of
the Spirit will come to help us.
A Lonely Life
The intercessor is a lonely person- at least, from an earthly standpoint. Other Christians can spend much time talking, eating, fellowshipping, and seem content with a meager prayer life. But the person who dedicates himself to God for this priestly work will become eternity-conscious. The burden of lost souls weighs upon him. There is a gnawing at his heart which finds no relief until he is weeping before the throne in behalf of lost humanity.
The Intercessor Is A Burden-Bearer
Carrying burdens for others is not a pleasant task. Our own flesh rebels; it is humiliating to our puffed-up, inner SELF. But just as in the physical realm an expectant mother must carry the embryo and submit to times of depression, discomfort and self-discipline until her time comes to be delivered, the same is true in the spiritual realm. Patient submission to the tedious task of burden bearing mellows the soul and stamps a
Christlike image on the burden-bearer.
Bringing To Birth
When the time comes for a physical birth, the mother must exercise will power; she must press on when her own strength seems to be gone. Even so, in the spiritual realm, the intercessor must not recoil from labor pains. There is a time of soul anguish. The enemy withstands us. We feel his hot breath; the hellish force would seem to crush us. We must not draw back. We seem to be struggling against a wall of’ darkness, and we think we can’t go on. We lack words to pray more. But we must maintain our position, take authority over the enemy, and believe God to deliver the lost soul. When we have no more words to pray, we can, at least, stand our ground and believe!
The Apostle Paul says: “I labor, striving with all the superhuman energy which He so mightily enkindles and works within me” (Colossians 1:29, Amplified Bible).
Then comes rest, a confidence that the work has been done. We may or may not see immediate results. It matters not. The Spirit gives witness that the victory has been won.
The Food of the Intercessor
“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna. . .I am the living bread. . .he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.”
He who dedicates himself to the strenuous task of many hours of prayer for the kingdom work will need to renew his strength from time to time. He may have been accustomed, before, to Bible-reading in a light way. Now, he will learn to eat the Word. Hungering for spiritual help, he will find hidden lessons in familiar passages that he overlooked before.
Also, He who is the LIVING WORD will reveal Himself to him. In the secret place of soul travail, the prayer-warrior will find companionship with the ONE who was bruised for our transgressions and who ever liveth to make intercession. And the sweetness of the fellowship will far outweigh our puny sacrifice of separation from earthly friends.
The Garment of the Intercessor
“The Lord hath anointed me. . .to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy, for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:1, 3).
It is absolutely necessary that the intercessor learn to intersperse his times of agonizing and wrestling with seasons of worship and rejoicing. The joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Humanly, we cannot endure; there must be a heavenly anointing.
This supernatural anointing and help comes through praise and worship. The entrance into the presence of the Lord is with praises: “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise” (Psalm 100:4). Often we are weak and unprepared for spiritual battles because we fail to praise the Lord as we should.
The high priest in the tabernacle entered into the Holy of Holies in the midst of a cloud of perfumed smoke from the golden altar of incense. We, too, need a special robe to enter into the holy Presence. Worship and praise will cause the “glory cloud” to descend, clothing us with His strength and power. Then we are equipped to fight spiritual battles.
The High Calling of Priesthood
The intercessor is a priest and shares the ministry of the great High Priest in the holy sanctuary in heaven. Priesthood is a high calling and goes beyond the rank of presidents and kings. It is perhaps the most sublime vocation that a Christian can attain. It is a labor which refines his inner nature and makes him like his Lord.
The Hebrew word for a priest is “cohen,” and means “one who stands up for another, and mediates in his cause.” That is, the priest takes on himself the guilt of the other person, pleading his case. In a sense, he is a substitute for the guilty person. We know that Christ is the real substitute for sinners. But the earthly priest, identifying himself with his Lord, feels the High Priest’s compassion for sinners, and offers himself for their salvation.
The Responsibility of the Church in World Affairs
The intercessor must plead for souls as individuals, but his responsibility goes beyond that. The Lord intended that the church should be a mighty factor in resisting the advance of Satanic powers in national and world affairs. Prayer should be concentrated on government authorities, world leaders, national
and international events. If the church does not fulfill her task, Satan will so dominate governments that doors will close to the gospel, and the church will find hers elf retreating as darkness covers the earth.
The church, infilled with the Holy Ghost, is the most powerful factor in this world. To her has been given the authority of ruling over spirit-foes. She must exercise that authority, snatch souls from the burning, withstand armies of demons, and claim victories for the kingdom of God.
(The above article appeared in an issue of The Pentecostal Herald.)