"I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write." ~St. Augustine

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Block to Intercession

I am still shocked by his behavior and sin. I am hurt by his deception and I am angry with him for the sins he has committed against his wife. This friend... this one "in the fold" that has lied to his friends and his wife for years.

If I am honest, I am just too angry to intercede for him. Not that I want him to be in pain or for bad things to happen to him, I truly don't. But, my heart is not turned toward him and I certainly don't feel mercy, grace or compassion. According to a fabulous
book I am reading, Tricia Rhodes assures her readers that without these thing... without mercy, compassion and grace... without a heart that is for the person..., real intercession cannot happen. She believes that supplication and request can happen in my state; but, not intercession. I was struck with this convicting idea just this afternoon as the heady-book knowledge clashed with my heart-world.

Intercession is "to act or interpose in behalf of someone in difficulty or trouble, as by pleading or petition"(Random House Dictionary). Rhodes talks about intercession as being a stance of gap-filling (standing in the gap for someone). Intercession is a role of advocate and proponent. A true intercessor is one like Moses pleading God's mercy on behalf of the Israelites or Jesus begging the Father for mercy for his murderers... "for they don't know what they are doing!"

Rhodes also shows from Scripture that our role as believers is to be intercessors. We are all intercessors, she states and argues with persuasion. We are called to be ministers of reconciliation. We are called to hold the hand of Almighty God, our kind and loving Father, and plead the case of the lost, the hurting, the broken and the wayward. Our Father has invited us all to this work.

An important key, though, is that our heart actually needs to believe it. Intercession requires a heart-felt appeal to God for mercy. Like an attorney that doesn't believe his client is innocent... how is he to plead his case with integrity? An intercessor can not plead grace before God without being full of grace and love for the accused.

In this book, Rhodes states that we are never more like Christ than when we are interceding. He ever lives to intercede. (Hebrews 7:25) This is what He does full time! This is salvation and the work that the blood does on our behalf. We rely upon His intercession (His blood sacrifice!) when we stand before a holy Father and are welcomed in. Christ is the great intercessor!

Ah! but my heart is still hard toward this man. Not hateful... for I can request good things for him. But, can I intercede? Can I be like Christ in this manner? I don't have trouble interceding on behalf of his wife, his children and those he has hurt along the way. But, mercy must well up in my soul before true intercession can take place. Can I plead his case before God? Can I be an advocate for him?

My heart fights it as if interceding for him would make his sin less sinful or "okay". Does Christ's blood and intercession make my sin okay? Doesn't asking for mercy acknowledge the need for mercy... and mercy is only needed when sin is present. In my head somewhere, I know that I have done enough to anger Christ! Certainly, I have been as rebellious and my heart more wayward. Certainly Christ has every right to be angry at me! And, yet, my Savior-Brother stand in the gap for me. His anger does not get in the way of genuine and effective intercession for me. So, from my head the old saying... "there but for the grace of God go I" needs to make its way down to the depths my heart. This is what I have begun to ask for today.

For, "If a man sins against another man, God may mediate for him; but if a man sins against the Lord, who will intercede for him?" 1 Samuel 2:25

Will I join Christ in this work?

Oh Father, would you fill my heart with mercy and grace. Make me more like you, Lord Jesus. May I grow in my ability to forgive. May I grow in my ability to walk in mercy and compassion. Change my heart, O God. Jesus, teach me to pray.
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