Seeing Beyond Yourself

The Power of Intercession

We are selfish by nature. Current events are often filtered through a myopic lens of personal assessment. Questions such as “How does this affect me?” and “I don’t feel/think/react that way?” or “This isn’t my issue/problem” or “I didn’t cause this situation.” We are too quick to offer our perspective on issues, posting triggered responses on social media, eager for everyone to hear our take on an issue, rather than responding with contemplative silence that listens to all sides.

The OBGYN that delivered four of my five children was a godly man and an elder at his church in South Dallas. He was an enormous African-American gentleman—about 6’5 and 300lbs—with hands so large I was confident he could never drop a baby during delivery! He had eyes filled with love and kindness and his heart was full of wisdom. On one occasion, I asked his opinion about a race issue. I’ll never forget his answer: “I am a Christ-follower; I don’t get an opinion.” He went on to explain that as a Christian, he was “dead” to the old man, and alive in Christ. No longer did his fleshly thoughts and opinions matter, but rather his foundation solidly rested on the Word of God, and there he found his answers.

I have thought about that conversation many times over the years. I am very opinionated and have been quick to share my positions. I still wrestle with my unruly tongue, but am gradually learning to take a breath, hold my tongue, and seek Heaven’s views rather than wildly spew my own. God’s thoughts are and will always be higher than mine, His perspective clear, concise, and perfect. Why wouldn’t I want His holy view instead of my jaded one?

This year a dear friend and I began a Bible reading plan together to read through it in the year. The Old Testament account of the Israelites struggle to keep covenant with God and forsake other idols has so many parallels with modern day America. Some of the kings would follow in David’s footsteps, others would not, but even those that did, would leave the “high places” (the areas where sacrifices were offered up to pagan gods). While many in America claim Christianity as their faith, how many of us still have high places in our own lives? I believe 2020 may mark the beginning of the destruction of America’s high places.

Having just completed the book of Ezra, I am struck by his sincere intercession on behalf of his people. Though he himself not guilty, he pours out his heart in repentance to God as if he were. The Israelites had intermingled with people from other lands, incorporating idol worship and pagan rituals which were abominations to the Lord (can any of us Believers relate?). When Ezra learned of this travesty, he tore his clothes, pulled out his hair, and grieved. He then began to fast and offer sacrifices to God, crying out in prayer on their behalf. Interestingly, however, he said, “we have been guilty,” “we have forsaken your commandments,” “we are before You in our guilt” (Ezra 9:7-15, emphasis mine). Ezra had not committed the transgressions himself but took the sin upon him to passionately intercede for his brethren.

We know Jesus is our intercessor, standing at the right hand of the Father, interceding for Believers. Yet, what might be the result if we took the energy and conviction we so often pour out on social media and released it instead in prayer and supplication. Debate can be a healthy and educational activity when done in an organized school setting, but it is rarely profitable on social media. Debate isn’t going to change someone’s moral compass—only the Holy Spirit can convict of sin.

Passion channeled into repentance yields immeasurable results. In Ezra’s case, his repentance was the catalyst for the repentance of the Nation! Ezra 10:1 says, “Now while Ezra was praying, and while he was confessing, weeping, and bowing down before the house of God, a very large assembly of men, women and children gathered to him from Israel; for the people wept very bitterly.” The leaders sincerely repented and then led the rest of the people in repentance. Ezra didn’t distance himself from the sin of his people, nor try to justify their behavior; instead in humility he beseeched God for forgiveness.

My challenge for us today is to take the conviction we so often display in social media posts and comments and channel it into fervent prayer for our Nation. Instead of praying “they,” pray “we.” Take ownership of your faith, your Nation, and its sins and cry out for the lost. Our fervent prayers will be far more effective than our social media scribble. Prayer changes things. Repentance changes things. Humility changes things.

Stop looking inward and outward, and instead look upward. Jesus instructed us to pray: “Thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” God is looking for faith in the earth—a faith that will partner with Him to see His Will accomplished in this earth. He is looking for a faith that isn’t shaken by the seen, but holds tightly to the unseen, knowing God’s Word is true and that He is faithful to perform it.

prayer, intercession, racism, fear, America, sin, culture, idols, repentanc

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