One last visit to Dutch Sheets’ book Intercessory Prayer. This is such a good book, it is both encouraging and helpful, funnily enough not all books on prayer are either of those..
These are my earlier posts on this important book. You’ll find a link to buy the book on the first of them.
After travelling all day Jacob needed a place to spend the night ‘because the sun was set’, verse 11 says he ‘lighted upon’ (KJV) a particular place and there he spent the night. Notice that Jacob had not predetermined to spend the night there, he didn’t choose the place in advance, but was guided by chance, ‘because the sun was set’.
Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”
Genesis 28:10-17 NIV
The place as it turns out was a very special place, Bethel, which means ‘house of God’. Jacob actually referred to it as a ‘gate of heaven’. Even though most translations say Jacob lighted in ‘a’ place, the literal Hebrew wording is ‘the’ place. What was simply A place to Jacob, chosen by chance, was THE place to the Lord and sovereignly chosen by Him. It was there that Jacob had a mighty, life-changing encounter with God.
It was there that he saw the angels ascending and descending from heaven. It was at that time that God extended to him the same covenant He had made with Abraham, and informed Jacob that through his lineage He would save the world. He also promised great blessing to Jacob, to protect him and bring him back to his homeland safely. In short, it was a place where Jacob’s entire destiny was foretold and his history shaped.
Nice story but how does that relate to intercession and to Romans 8:26-28? I’m glad you asked!
Like Jacob, who was not guided to this special place by his own reasoning or understanding, we are not always able to be directed in prayer by ours either. Consequently we often feel weak and anaemic in our ability to produce results. At times it seems the process is hit and miss, as though we have to land or ‘light upon’ the situation correctly ‘by chance’.
That’s okay…..And it isn’t really hit and miss because what is meant by chance for us is not to our Helper, the Holy Spirit. In fact ‘paga’ (a word related to intercession) also means ‘bullseye’.
They still use the word in this way in Israel today. Close your eyes and fire! When we allow Him to intercede through us, just as He sovereignly guided Jacob to the right place at the right time, He will cause our prayers to light upon (paga) the right person or place, in the right way, at the right time, bringing forth the will of God in situations. And that’s right good!
Bethels will occur!
Meetings with God will occur!
Heaven’s gates will open!
Destinies will be written!
History will be shaped!
‘Too dramatic’, you say? If you said that, you don’t know God well enough. Or perhaps you don’t believe strongly enough that we can involve the miracle worker in our praying. I submit to you that one of the reasons we don’t see more miracles is because we don’t expect more miracles. Our bible..on both sides of the Cross..presents a lot of them. They come from God, however, and the way to see more of them is to involve Him in more situations. Praying in the Spirit does this.
This sort of prayer is powerful and dynamic in its working, see what James says about it here:
The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]. Elijah was a human being with a nature such as we have [with feelings, affections, and a constitution like ours]; and he prayed earnestly for it not to rain, and no rain fell on the earth for three years and six months.
And [then] he prayed again and the heavens supplied rain and the land produced its crops [as usual].
James 5:16b-18 AMP
As we pray according to the Spirit’s leading, and in the Spirit, we make differences we may never be able to quantify here and now, but God knows the changes He accomplishes through our prayers and one day we will know too.
We are all beneficiaries of someone else’s prayers on our behalf, let’s pass that same gift along to those around us.