"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." ~ Deuteronomy14:2

Friday, December 5, 2008

Building a Wall of Prayer - The Scriptural Importance of Standing in the Gap

“Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; love her, and she will keep you. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom and in all your getting, get understanding. Exalt her, and she will promote you; she will bring you honor when you embrace her. She will place on your head an ornament of grace; a crown of glory she will deliver to you. Hear, my son, and receive my sayings, and the years of your life will be many. I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, and when you run, you will not stumble.” ~ Proverbs 4:5-12
"So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one." ~ Ezek 22:30 (NKJ)
"Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell In." ~ Isa 58:12 (NKJ)
Let me start by addressing an attitude in the body of Christ today that says there are people called to the ministry of intercession. My intent is not to challenge the few who do intercede and pray, but to challenge the majority who don't consider themselves an intercessor. I want to challenge those who habitually pass their prayer responsibilities on to the handful of people who do pray consistently. This habit has led to a tremendous burden being placed on a few. The Bible clearly teaches us in Ephesians 4:16 that it is important for every person to do their share. I do not see anywhere in the Bible a "ministry" or "gift" of intercession. We do see Jesus in Hebrews 7:25 who is our High Priest and He ever lives to make intercession for us. But we are all called to be like Him, and if we are all called to be like Him, then we are all called to intercede. Who do you intercede for? I would like to answer that with, what or who are you responsible for? It starts in your family, extends out to your church family, anything (business, job, position, office) or anyone whom you have responsibility for and anything the Bible tells us to pray for (1 Timothy 2:2 says pray for those in authority).... The wall is made up of people. First, the leadership has to identify the perimeter or the wall. How do they do this? They simply survey all the Christians who are part of their organization. Second, all the people will be assigned a place in the wall where they are responsible to watch and build."
What is an intercessor? "An intercessor is a man or woman or child, who fights on behalf of others. As such, intercession is the activity that identifies us most with Christ. To be an intercessor is to be like Jesus because that is what Jesus is like. He ever lives to intercede." ~Dick Eastman
The word gap literally means a break in the wall or a breach. Francis Fragipane says that: "you have to be an intercessor who 'stands in the gap.' The 'gap' is the distance between the way things are and the way things should be" and it is the responsibility of Godly leaders to make sure the gap gets filled. Nehemiah fulfilled his responsibility by assigning families to positions on the wall to repair it. They were to watch for the enemy as well as build the wall until the breach was repaired. We see in the scriptures where people are referred to as stones. Therefore if we consider Ezekiel 22:30 and Isaiah 58:12, then a way to build the ministry is to begin to pray for the people in our group; building them up and strengthening them.
"Thus says the Lord GOD: Woe to the foolish prophets, who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! O Israel, your prophets are like foxes in the deserts. You have not gone up into the gaps to build a wall for the house of Israel to stand in battle on the day of the LORD." ~ Ezek 13:3-5 (NKJ)
The initial function that each family performs is to stand in the gap and intercede for the families on either side of them and pray for the building-up of the weak places in a ministry. Why? Because building the wall of prayer is actually building each other up. The bible teaches us that we are our brothers keeper. There are also several examples in the word of God wherein the sin or weakness of one affected the whole congregation (ex. Joshua 7). If you are an enemy, do you attack the opposing force where they are strong or where they are weak? The enemy would pick the weakest place to attack. That is why we have to build each other up because when one suffers we all suffer (1 Corinthians 12:26).
Intercessors Stand in the Gap
Filling in the gap starts with prayer. So how do you do that? The leadership needs to provide a list on the strengths and weaknesses that they would like the group to pray for as well as well as the vision of the ministry. Each family needs to be assigned a prayer focus to pray for on a daily basis. Each family should get to know the others well. The better you know them the more specific you'll be able to pray. It is of course assumed that each family led by the head of household is praying for themselves everyday as well. This makes sure everyone in the group has at least 2 people praying for them daily. After that, the whole can agree together daily, praying for the building up of the weak places. The procedures implemented here employ the warfare principles of objective, mass, and communication. So what should the intercessor pray? Pray for the development of Godly character and His kingdom to come and His will to be done in their lives. "The Scriptures reveal that there are two acts which go on continually before the throne of God - intercession and accusation. The conflict between these two is the focal point of the battle between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness. Because God has chosen to make the church His dwelling place, and therefore the place of His throne, it is in the heart of the church that this battle now rages.
Realizing the gap can also be referred to as a fault, we need to be careful not to dwell on the negative and become only fault finders. Therefore we must be very careful what we do and not accuse. Proverbs 18:21 says that life and death are in the power of our tongue. So speak life. I Peter 4:8 says that love covers a multitude of sins. So fill in the gap with the love of the Lord. Look at the Word of God and call things that are not as though they were. Do you see a weakness in their character? If so, then pray and appropriate God's power and grace so they can change. There are many excellent books on intercession and prayer. I recommend that you take advantage and learn how to pray. The bottom line is, don't criticize the breach or fault, repair it. Start by praying the general will of God and use the Word of God and the vision for the local church as your blue print as you build through prayer.
In Nehemiah, some were assigned the specific duty as watchmen but all the builders were to be on alert and sound the alarm reporting what they saw or heard. The intercessors are like those builders. Working with the watchmen, individual intercessors stand at their post and watch as they build-up the wall in prayer. They are always ready to respond to any threat and they realize that they are a part of a team. Each intercessor understands that it is very important that they faithfully do their part. They are part of a team and a team is only as strong as the weakest link. The enemy will typically attack the weakest point. Therefore, it is the intercessors that form the back bone of this operation. They are the builders. They are the soldiers. They are the ones who "Stand in the Gap!" By the time the gaps are filled through intercession, the communication center will be in place and functioning. The communication center will provide leadership with real time information concerning the current situation in their area of responsibility. Now the can begin to seek the Lord and devise evangelistic strategies to be combined with the prayer strategies in order to finish building the house of the Lord (Rev. 5:9, 1 Pet. 2:4-6) by winning souls. These souls will also take their position in the wall as well, and be discipled, trained, and equipped to fulfill their destiny. It is important to note an observation from Nehemiah. The wall was large and the people were dispersed far and wide. A watch was established all along the wall. When an enemy was spotted, the report had to be made to Nehemiah who kept the trumpeter next to him (Nehemiah 4:18). Then the trumpeter sounded the alarm. The report would probably come from a watchman but it could also come from one of the workers on the wall. When the trumpeter sounded the alarm, the rest of the people were to gather there to fight. Nehemiah was like a communication center. He would have to receive reports from all around the city walls and make judgments about where to employ his forces. It was his job to interpret the reports and make decisions. The watchmen or the workers on the north side of the city would have a different view from those on the south side of the city and so it is today with watchmen and intercessors in the body of Christ. It is possible for two or more watchmen or intercessors, because of their assigned positions, to see the same thing yet from a different perspective. If one is posted on the northwest corner of a city and one is posted on the southwest corner of a city and an army approaches from the west. The watchman on the southwest side will see the same army as the watchman at the northwest post but he will probably see some things that the watchman in the north cannot see and vice versa. However, as the report is sent by each of the watchman, the captain of the guard or the leadership will be able to develop an overall picture as to what is going on. Then decisions can be made and strategies implemented."
An Intersessors Prayer
Pray without ceasing! (1 Thessalonians 5:17) "We are to rejoice in creature-comforts, as if we rejoiced not, and must not expect to live many years, and rejoice in them all; but if we do rejoice in God, we may do that evermore. A truly religious life is a life of constant joy. And we should rejoice more, if we prayed more. Prayer will help forward all lawful business, and every good work. If we pray without ceasing, we shall not want matter for thanksgiving in every thing. We shall see cause to give thanks for sparing and preventing, for common and uncommon, past and present, temporal and spiritual mercies. Not only for prosperous and pleasing, but also for afflicting providences, for chastisements and corrections; for God designs all for our good, though we at present see not how they tend to it. Quench not the Spirit. Christians are said to be baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire. He worketh as fire, by enlightening, enlivening, and purifying the souls of men. As fire is put out by taking away fuel, and as it is quenched by pouring water, or putting a great deal of earth upon it; so we must be careful not to quench the Holy Spirit, by indulging carnal lusts and affections, minding only earthly things. Believers often hinder their growth in grace, by not giving themselves up to the spiritual affections raised in their hearts by the Holy Spirit. By prophesyings, here understand the preaching of the word, the interpreting and applying the Scriptures. We must not despise preaching, though it is plain, and we are told no more than what we knew before. We must search the Scriptures. And proving all things must be to hold fast that which is good. We should abstain from sin, and whatever looks like sin, leads to it, and borders upon it. He who is not shy of the appearances of sin, who shuns not the occasions of it, and who avoids not the temptations and approaches to it, will not long keep from doing sin." ~ Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22

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