Throughout my many decades as a follower of Jesus I have found myself tremulously playing the role of a counselor, and—though never officially—that of a pastor, a teacher, occasionally even a prophet. I am so grateful for the many godly brothers and sisters who went before me and showed me the way.
A few of these mentors had an intercessory calling. It amazed me and yet terrified me. They seemed to be able to get hold of God in the midst of the most difficult circumstances either of their own or a brother’s or sister’s life. I was amazed by them. But I never wanted to be an intercessor.
Why Being An Intercessor Scared Me
The reason is simple. Intercessors have a very high calling of God in helping to build up God’s kingdom. In the first place I never thought I would be worthy to fill such a role. More important, after getting to know some of the intercessors quite well, it became apparent what a high price they paid for their important work in the kingdom.
If you think of intercessors in military terms, they are the brothers and sisters who operate the heavy artillery of God’s warfare. They are the people behind the big guns feeding the artillery shells into the breaches of these guns, aiming them carefully at enemy targets, and then firing with great effect. They are really the movers and shakers of God’s work on earth.
The challenge is that as soon as they engage in the important work of spiritual warfare, the enemy is so irritated by their effectiveness that he snipes relentlessly at them.
Challenges Intercessors Can Expect
Ask any intercessor about his or her story and you will hear the narration of painful and sometimes tragic experiences involving an intercessor’s family, loved ones or entire professional pathway. Intercessors in effect need people to intercede for them. They need people who will stand up like a wall of spiritual protection around them helping deflect some of the worst of the enemy’s assaults. If you are an intercessor, at some point your health will be attacked, your marriage will be attacked, your family relationships will be attacked, your livelihood and provision will be attacked. Almost nothing about your life will not be a target of enemy assault.
The first thing to notice, of course, is that you must be having some effect in the spiritual realm or you wouldn’t be getting this barrage of assaults upon your life. In other words you will realize because you have so antagonized the enemy how effective you have been. But you are still a soldier operating in the front line and therefore still a target of the enemy sniping. That sniping will often be very unfair: it will attack your spouse and loved ones who have done nothing to deserve this assault. There are few more distressing phenomena to preserve then your family or loved ones undergoing serious challenges in their lives because of the spiritual work that you are doing independently of them, and sometimes, indeed, on their behalf.
Lift Up Their Hands
This situation forces intercessors to be utterly dependent on people who can pray to lift their arms up, just as Aron and Hur in Exodus 17:12 her lifted up the arms of Moses when the Israelites were fighting the Amalekites. Actually, being able to lift up the hands of an intercessor is one of the most rewarding blessings of praying for an intercessor. If someone asks you to intercede for him or her, consider that in itself not just a great honor but a great access to blessing from the Lord.
As you intercede for an intercessor, it is part of your job to help ensure that they get the right shells into the artillery and aim in the exact direction of the enemy. The Lord may also use you as an intercessor for the intercessor to provide the field dressing that a comrade in arms might need on the frontline. To provide the balm of Gilead to someone engaged in effective spiritual warfare is one of the greatest sources of blessing for any Christian brother or sister.
So, consider praying for the Lord to use you as an intercessor, but be aware that you are entering an area of ministry when you will need all the armor of God that you can provide and all the protection of brothers and sisters around you. Well, isn’t that what the Christian life is supposed to be all about?
David Aikman is a best-selling author, journalist, and foreign policy consultant. He worked as a journalist for Time Magazine from 1971 to 1994, during which he reported on nearly all the major historical events of the time. He has interviewed several major world figures, including Mother Teresa, Manuel Noriega, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Pham Van Dong, Boris Yeltsin and Billy Graham.