A Body Has Thou Prepared Me
I want to start this section with a quote from Norman Grubb’s Yes I Am. “Let us have this plainly understood. Our service to God is only fulfilled by some body action of ours–by body dedication.” The difference between intercession and our last topic, the word of faith, is that intercession will always involve our bodies. Of course the Spirit has always used our bodies in witness and zeal since the Spirit inhabited us at the new birth (unless there is sin blockage). But intercession is a much more specific and purposeful use of our bodies. Intercession will always involve a death to us at a soul and body level so that someone else may live.
Of course the greatest example of intercession is the supreme intercessor Himself, Jesus Christ. He took on a body and delivered Himself unto a torturous death for the redemption of mankind. One major difference between the intercession of Christ and our intercession is that Jesus Christ’s death is the only one that can redeem mankind from sin. As the perfect Godman, only His sacrifice can pay the penalty for man’s sins and release mankind from its link-up with Satan, and put man in union with the Holy Spirit.
However this God/man Jesus Christ continues His saving activities by His Spirit through our consecrated bodies (if we are Christian). And the way is still the same. There is some kind of death in us that another may live (Colossians 1:24). In 2 Corinthians Paul continually speaks of a death in himself that others may live (2 Cor. 4:12). This is the top level life, the apostolic life, the intercessory life.
Before we explain in detail how intercession works lets make one point clear. Very few Christians take this step of faith into becoming an intercessor. The scripture says God looks for intercessors and rarely finds them. “He saw that there was no man and wondered that there was no intercessor (Isaiah (59:16).” “I sought for a man among them that should make up the hedge and stand in the gap before me for the land…but I found none” (Ezekiel 22:30).
The reason there are so few intercessors is that for most of us Christianity is a vehicle by which we fulfill ourselves. “The Lord will take care of me, give me joy peace and happiness, find me a mate and give me job satisfaction.” Intercession is the absolute opposite of this Christianity as “personal comfort” doctrine. In intercession the Spirit will take us on a body soul level to any lengths, without any thought of our comfort and convenience or happiness, to bring a deliverance for one of Satan’s captives. The comfort and happiness of the intercessor is always expendable.
How does an intercession begin? Well it usually sneaks up on you. You just become involved in a situation to the point where you become aware that the Spirit is going to bring about a deliverance in a situation through the active use of your soul-body. Now as Norman Grubb says, we don’t go out and look for this commission. It finds us. But there is a very clear choice whether you want to accept the death in order that another may live.
The first stage of intercession is identification. Another word used sometimes is commission. In this stage the Spirit begins to let someone else’s problem get under your skin. Another word for this stage might be empathy. Someone else’s suffering becomes real to you. Now there is a choice even in this entryway to intercession, at least there has been for me. How deeply are we willing to be involved? To begin to identify with another means we begin to forget ourselves and our concerns. Our feelings, our thoughts, our ambitions, our wants and our desires begin to take a back seat to concern for another person. I have had to consciously choose to forget myself and think about another person as the Spirit has moved me into intercession.
In the book Rees Howells Intercessor by Norman Grubb (the definitive book on intercession), we see how someone begins to empathize and enter into an intercession. Let me quote what Rees Howells went through in interceding for a woman whose husband was dying. “The suffering of the woman came to him as if it were his own sister. He went out into a field and wept and as he said ‘Once you weep, or the Holy Ghost in you, you are the only one to touch the throne.’ However it seemed as though the Lord made him enter into her feelings where her suffering became his own and her need his responsibility.”
For Rees Howells this Holy Spirit empathy took very specific forms. For example when interceding for a poor family he decided to eat as sparingly as they did because of their poverty. This was a particular hardship to Rees because he worked twelve hours a day as a miner and obviously burned quite a few calories.
When Rees Howells interceded for tramps he spent all his spare time with them, including holidays. He opened his home to them and suffered the anger of his family. Identification and empathy meant really getting involved no matter what the cost. This is not the kind of intercessory prayer where we say “bless the Chinese” or “help Uncle Frank.” This is utter involvement which begins to take over the heartbeat of your life. The person or persons being interceded for begin to dominate the intercessor’s thoughts.
As this process of identification proceeds the person’s need becomes paramount to you. This need must be fulfilled. This need is conscious and specific and as an intercessor you are responsible to see it fulfilled. It is not a passing prayer which if not answered is forgotten. This thing must be done. This deliverance must be had. As the intercessor, you make a conscious decision to get the need met as if it was your very own need. In fact in real identification the other person’s need is your need! (Love your neighbor as yourself). In normal prayer we hope God will fulfill a need. In intercession God must fulfill a need and we put our own lives on the line until God brings the result to pass. When Rees Howells interceded for the woman dying from tuberculosis he publicly proclaimed she would live (putting his reputation in the breach) and continually exposed himself to the dread disease as he spent time with her. If he died he died. Intercession, as we see with Jesus, is putting ourselves into the place of another that they may live. So this intense involvement and commitment on the part of the intercessor is called commission and identification.
Now the second part of intercession which we have already partially mentioned is cost or agony. We commit ourselves to the project, making the other person’s need our need, and we pay a personal price to see the need fulfilled. There is a death to us in our soulbody at some level that another may live. Again this is no lofty or passing prayer. There will be a death experienced by us. It may be to our reputations, our time, our finances or even our physical well being. As Norman Grubb says, you may not even know what the death is until you are through the thing, but there is a death.
The life of the Savior is once more the perfect example. In bringing many of us to Glory He suffered death to all He had: His physical well being, His reputation (crucified naked on the town dump) and His future and all He had. As we become intercessors in filling up that which is lacking in Christ’s afflictions (Col. 1:24) we too will know death and agony in certain areas of our life.
However if there is identification and agony there is also victory. The third stage of intercession is called authority or completion. Here the fruit of the death the intercessor has suffered is gathered. Remember anytime there is a death the immutable law is that life is brought forth out of it. “Truly truly I say to you unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).
If the intercessor has paid the price at a soul-body level, he gains what is called a position of authority. Whatever the particular need is–salvation of a soul, deliverance for a person, financial burdens for a mission–the intercessor knows he has the thing he has interceded for. The authority could be described as a confidence that the thing is had. Of course, it is more than a confidence. The thing sought after is actually gained! Norman Grubb, in his book Rees Howells Intercessor, says that this authority, once gained in a certain area, is maintained. When this kind of need comes up again, the believer has authority in this area on an immediate basis. Norman uses as an example George Mueller, who agonized through an intercession for orphans. Once Mr. Mueller had sweated through the intercessory process, no small feat, he seemed to have unlimited access to God’s treasury to feed, clothe and house any orphans who came his way. He had gained a place of intercession in the sphere of orphans.
So there is not just agony and travail. There is a gaining of the thing interceded for! There is actual fruit! The intercessor sees things through to the end, until he gets his answer. An intercessor is the importunate friend who finally moves his neighbor to give him what he needs because of his persistence (Luke 11:8).
This then is the full redeemed use of all our faculties, not in meeting our own needs and concerns but in meeting the desperate needs of others. So there it is: commission, cost, completion or, in another way of putting it, identification, agony, authority.
As intercessors we learn to empathize and have somebody else’s concerns be more important than ours. As we become committed to seeing the situation through and the need fulfilled, there is an agony or death in it for us at some level. And finally there is authority and completion as the need is fulfilled. This is the top level life and where God is bringing you if His Son is really living your life.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 10 No 3
- To All Believers…It’s As Simple As This
- Easter Conference 1994
- Editor’s Note
- Excerpts from The Intercession of Rees Howells
- Moments with Meryl
- A Look at a Book
- Intercession: Part 8 of the Teacher/Trainer Outline
- A Body Has Thou Prepared Me
- To Think About…
- Questions & Answers
- God Will Restore The Years