It is our calling to reach others for Christ. We must intercede on behalf of all who are lost, so that they in turn can answer Jesus' call. Jesus — after the Resurrection, in every one of the four Gospels, and in the book of Acts — said, "As the Father sent me, I send you." He essentially said, "Go and tell. Be my witnesses. Go and make disciples. Train them. Go and stand in the gap."
Jesus' people need to humble themselves and pray, aligning their will with the will of God. We must ask, "God, what is Your will so I can pray Your will and have my will aligned with Yours?" That's the right way to pray. We will only see the fruit of answering His call when our will is aligned with His. The Bible gives us countless examples of how aligning our will with His in prayer yields great intercessory results.
When Moses aligned his will with God's will, God brought water out of the rock. When Joshua aligned his will with the will of God, the sun stood still in its orbit. When David aligned his will with the will of God, Goliath fell. When Elijah aligned his will with the will of God, fire came from heaven on Mount Carmel and licked up everything, including the water. And when Daniel aligned his will with the will of God, mouths of lions were zipped. That's what happens when we align our will with the will of God and intercede.
There are three things to remember when praying for our world, our neighbors, our friends, and our family members. We must employ penitent, persistent, and persuasive prayer. The Bible gives us an example of an effective intercessor in Abraham's intercession for Sodom (see Genesis 18:16-33).
Penitent prayer. Abraham did not come to God demanding. He didn't say, "God, please do this. It's very important for You to do this." He did not come to God enumerating all of his righteous deeds, all of his righteous acts. In fact, he said, "I am nothing but dust and ashes" (Genesis 18:27). It was a penitent prayer.
Persistent prayer. When Abraham interceded for Sodom, he persisted in his prayer; he persisted in his request of God. He didn't pray once or twice flippantly then give up. He continually petitioned for Sodom and his family. Six times Abraham would make his request of the Lord. Each time he saw the grace of God extended and he became emboldened to ask for more. In many ways, God was encouraging Abraham to expand his petition.
Persuasive prayer. How should our prayers be persuasive? By twisting God's arm? No. Persuasive prayer is pleading the character of God. When we plead with God on the basis of who He is and what He promises, we are praying a persuasive prayer.
To impact our nation — and beyond — we must continue interceding with penitent, persistent, and persuasive prayer. Pray for those who deny the very power of the Gospel. God blessed the household of Laban because of Jacob. God blessed the household of Potiphar because of Joseph. God saved the passengers on the ship to Rome from shipwreck because of Paul. God is still blessing this great nation because of the faithful prayers of His people.
Are you willing to intercede on behalf of others — friends, family, government, our nation — and stand in the gap for those who need Him?
Excerpted from My Journal, a monthly devotional magazine from Leading The Way with Dr. Michael Youssef.
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