Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Effective Intercessor

READ: Exodus 33:1-6, 12-23

Moses was facing a major crisis. After saving Israel from slavery in Egypt, the Lord made a covenant with them at Mount Sinai. Then He summoned Moses up to the mountain alone to receive the Ten Commandments (24:12). Moses was in His presence for forty days (24:18).

But meanwhile, the people grew restless.
When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.
Aaron gave in to their demand and the people were soon worshiping their new god, the golden bull (not “calf”). Of course, God knew what was going on, and He disciplined Israel in several ways. The worst one by far was when He declared that He would withdraw His presence from them! (Exo. 33:3)

This got Moses really worried. How could he lead Israel without God? He didn't want to be separated from the God he had come to know in such a personal and intimate way? And so, Moses prayed.

Moses' prayer in 33:12-23 is a masterpiece of intercessory prayer. By studying it we can learn what it takes to be used of God to bless others through prayer.

The effective intercessor walks in God's favor, lives sacrificially, relies on God's promises, and seeks God's glory above all.

This isn't a formula that will always yield visible and measurable results. But the Bible there is a certain kind of person that God delights to bless and use for His glory.

The Effective Intercessor Walks in God's Favor
"Yet you have said, 'I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.'" (Exo. 33:12)
One of the arguments Moses used to ask God to remain with Israel was their intimate relationship. This gave Moses confidence in God's presence.

If Moses had been lukewarm toward the LORD, could he have prayed as he did? Of course not! In the same way, we can't expect God to bless our prayers if we're not following hard after Him!

Godliness, a passion for the LORD – these aren't things that one just turns on when it's time to pray. It's not about right words, or an emotional high. God looks at the heart, and He weighs your life. We all look pretty much the same when we pray -- head bowed and hands clasped. But God knows what you're living for. He knows from whom, what, or where you really get joy and security.

Does God see in you the earnestness, integrity, and humility that are evidences of the grace of His Son and the work of His Spirit in you? Or will He see a willfully compromised heart, grasping for both the things of God and the things of this world?

The Effective Intercessor Lives Sacrificially
“Consider too that this nation is your people.” (Exo. 33:13)

Though Moses' prayer was personal, he also expressed his sacrificial love for the people. His use of the phrase, “your people” was intentional. God had referred to Israel as "your [Moses']" people (Exo. 32:7). It was like saying, “They're your people, not mine!"But Moses was hoping, pleading, that God would take Israel back.

We already know from an earlier prayer that Moses was willing to die out of love for God's people (Exo. 32:32).It's virtually impossible to read these prayers and not feel shamed and challenged by his sacrificial love for the people of God.

God will always look with favor upon such a man.

If God's not using us or our prayers to effectively bless others, it might be because we're serving Him and His people only in a token, half-hearted way.

The Effective Intercessor Relies on God's Promise
"For how shall it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us…?" (Exo. 33:16)

Moses' argued on the basis of the Lord's promises to His people since the time of Abraham (Gen. 17:7), as well as His personal promise to him (Exo. 3:12). By doing this, Moses took his stand on the unwavering promises of God.

We should do the same. Our prayers should be held up by the unchanging Word of God. That means we have to be constantly immersed in it.

Make sure you're praying according to Scripture! When you pray, ask yourself, “Why am I praying this? On what basis am I bringing this desire before the LORD?” Also, do your best to incorporate as many biblical prayers (especially those in the NT) into your prayer life.

The Effective Intercessor Seeks God's Glory Above All
“Please show me your glory!” (Exo.33:18)
By verse 17, God had already granted Moses' requests by promising to dwell with the people in the Promised Land. But Moses had one final request: to see God's glory. At the moment of exhaustion, when Moses was brought utterly to the end of his own intellect and power, he fell back on the most basic desire of the human soul: to behold the glory of God.

At his very core, the man whom God delights to answer is someone who desires God's glory more than anything else. It isn't enough to be an upright man. It isn't enough to behave in a 'Christianly' way. You and I both know that God isn't fooled by people's pretensions and delusions of godliness.

So let's cultivate a desire to behold God's glory! God's essential glory isn't what He looks like, but who He is. So let's prayerfully dig into our Bibles, so that we grow in our personal knowledge of His holiness, wisdom, kindness, faithfulness, and joyfulness, for example. Most of all, look to Christ, who is "the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature" (Heb. 1:3).

Finally, let's look to eternity. Our hope isn't in this life, but in glory, in the presence of the LORD. There, we will behold God's glory as we never could in this life, and all the trinkets of this world that we thought were so important will seem completely insignificant compared to the blazing glory of God.


Did Moses really change God's mind? Is that what effective intercession is all about? No. God's purpose for Moses' intercession, and His purpose for ours, is to involve us in His work of redemption. He doesn't tell us to pray in order to change His mind. Rather, He molds our minds and character, to be people who seek His will and pray according to His will. Then He answers those prayers in His own way and in His own time, for the glory of His name. That's what effective intercession is about.

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