Last week, I wrote briefly on how intimacy through prayer was the key to Jesus’ success in ministry during His earthly life. There are so many aspects of prayer that entire books have been written on the subject. In all my years of involvement in prayer ministries, one facet I never understood until recently is the idea of prayer being a partnership with God. It is so amazing, I am still meditating upon it!
For so long, I wondered that more believers were not actively involved in prayer meetings or groups. We like to talk about it much more than we like to do it, generally speaking. This is understandable, for prayer really is hard work. It takes time to be still and listen to God; to discern His heart and purposes for people and situations. It takes self-discipline to put aside our own desires, needs, or issues to intercede for others. Intercession is an act of love; it is laying down your life for the sake of others, and for the Lord.
This concept of partnering with God through prayer is seen throughout Scripture. One outstanding example is found in Ezekiel 22. Beginning in verse 23, the Lord instructs Ezekiel to prophesy to Israel, rebuking her for her many sins. From the sound of His words, you would think God is about to destroy her. Yet in verse 30, He says this, “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before Me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it…” God is seeking (literally, to seek the face; to desire; to demand; to ask; to request) for someone who will stand before Him (literally, in His face; in His presence) to ask Him to spare Israel. Why? Because He doesn’t want to destroy her, but her sins have left Him no other choice. His justice requires payment for sin, but His mercy desires to forgive and cover sin. Yet He will not act apart from human involvement – He must have an intercessor to agree with His heart and plans, asking Him to be merciful.
This blows my mind! The Uncreated, All-powerful, Almighty, Sovereign God of the universe has limited Himself to work through weak, broken humans made in His image! What dignity He bestows upon His people! There are other examples – Abraham with Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18:16-33); Moses with the rebellious children of Israel (Deut. 9:13-29); Paul with his fellow Jews (Rom. 9:1-5). The ultimate example, again, is Jesus’ intercession through the cross. The cross is the greatest example of both love and intercession for all eternity. Jesus literally placed His own body in the gap between God’s wrath and our sin, taking our rightly deserved punishment upon Himself, enabling His mercy to cover us instead.
Unfortunately in Ezekiel’s day, He could find no one. He continues in 22:30-31, “…but I found none. So I will pour out My wrath on them and consume them with My fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.” He is still seeking partners today to stand in the gap for our families, churches, cities, and nations. It’s not that He needs us, for He is not lacking in any way. He desires our communion and fellowship. He wants us to be a part of what He is doing in the earth. He longs to hear our voices as we come into agreement with His plans and purposes.
He is raising up a bride who is worthy to rule and reign with Him for all eternity. One whose greatest desire is to see Him get the reward of His suffering. Many are hearing and answering the call to join Him in bringing heaven to earth. The climax and culmination will result in His return to the planet, as the Spirit and the bride in full agreement cry out, “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:17)