Updated: May 21
intercession: (in-tər-ˈse-shən) - prayer, petition, entreaty in favor of another (Webster's Dictionary)
What is Intercession?
Let's break down the word "Intercession". Intercession is the act of "Interceding". The root word is "Intercede". The Webster's definition above says that it is to ask on behalf of another.
Etymology is the study of the origin and source of words. The "Online Etymology Dictionary" explains that the word "Intercede" is the compound or conjunction of two Latin words, inter (which means "between") and cedere (which means "to go"). The picture from the original meaning of the word is of one person standing between to parties. Webster's definition gets more specific saying that intercession is to Pray or Petition in "favor of another", or on behalf of another.
Intercession is where one sets aside the pursuit of their own well-being and pleasure for that of another. It is a selfless act. The greatest example of selflessness the world has ever seen is in the person of Jesus Christ and His intercessory work.
Jesus the Great Intercessor!
Intercessor, as a single word, may be the best descriptor of the person and work of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God.
Christ-like living is "Others Focused". Jesus is the "Great Intercessor". Everything He did was for the benefit of others. The definition above says that intercession is "entreaty in favor of another", or "entreaty on behalf of another". Intercession is taking up someone else's cause. This is the story of Jesus.
Here are some scriptures that speak to this.
"Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."
- Isaiah 53:12 KJV
"God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him." - John 3:17 NLT
"Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, 8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal's death on a cross."
- Philippians 2:6-8 NLT
"Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf." - Hebrews 7:25 NLT
This is the beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For God so loved He gave! First John chapter four and verse eight tells us that God IS Love. God = Love, Love = God. Jesus said that "if you have seen the Me you've seen the Father..." Jesus is God, Jesus is Love. The life giving, life changing love of God is the power of God that changes lives from life unto death.
We Are Called to the Ministry of Intercession, Just Like Jesus
We don't just benefit from the intercessory work of the Lord Jesus we are enabled to become like Him to the benefit of the world around us. The Holy Spirit works in our lives to transform us into the image of Jesus Christ.
"So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord--who is the Spirit--makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image."
- 2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT
The entire life and ministry of Jesus was to the benefit of others. Jesus said that we would do the things that He did, in the Gospel of John 14:12. We are called to the same ministry as Jesus, which is selfless, setting aside our selfish desires and ambitions to serve others, saved and unsaved alike.
Telling others about Jesus is one of many ways that we do this. Serving them, caring for them, meeting their needs when they cannot meet them on their own. For us Jesus did what we could not do for ourselves by taking away our sin. The greatest need facing every human was salvation from the sin that keeps us bound. We could not do that for ourselves. That's why Jesus set aside His personal interest to come to the earth, taking on flesh with the capacity for pain, solely for the purpose of dying to pay the price for the sin of others.
The foremost nature of God is Love. Love, divine love, gives and puts the needs of others ahead of its own. The ultimate evidence of our submission to the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit is that we more and more look to and serve the needs of those around us.
One of the ways that God calls us to serve others through the vehicle of prayer. Prayer on behalf of others may be one of the most selfless acts a believer can undertake.
To pray for others we must be aware of their needs. We must look outside of ourselves, our lives, and our families and take note of the needs of those around us. We may not be able to do anything else, but we can always pray to the Father on their behalf.
We don't need to know anything more that the fact that there is some sort of need. Detail knowledge is NOT required to pray the "effectual, fervent prayer" spoke in James 5 and verse 16. We do need compassion and empathy, however, and these are things the Holy Spirit is working into our lives as we submit to His tutelage.
"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God."
- Romans 8:26-27 KJV
Embrace the Call!
If everyone of us who believe in Jesus for salvation would embrace the call to live the life of an intercessor like He does the world could change nearly overnight.
Our families would be stronger, our Churches would be stronger, our Communities would be stronger, our Workplaces would be stronger, and life would be better beyond measure, if we ALL would embrace the life of an Intercessor.