"My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as a man pleads for his friend." Job 16:20-21
When we think of intercession we often think in terms of a simple list of requests to be made to God on behalf of others, but this is not the Biblical concept of intercession.
Standing in the Gap
My Collins English dictionary defines the word "intercede" in this way, "to come between parties or act as a mediator or advocate." To intercede with God on behalf of another is to stand between that person and the Lord and to plead, to use Job's word.
Standing between a king and his subjects is a dangerous place to be as Nehemiah understood so well. He was a high ranking official in the entourage of the great king Artaxerxes yet, when he came to intercede with the king, he was "very much afraid," (Neh 2:2). Queen Esther, despite being married to her king, Xerxes, knew that she risked her life in pleading for her people (Est 4:15-16). Moses, in praying for the rebellious people of Israel, was prepared to lay his own eternal destiny on the line before God (Ex 32:31-32).
The Greatest Intercessor
So the list goes on, with greatest act of intercession being that of our Lord Jesus on the cross, pleading for us with His blood. We are told that He continues to intercede for us now (Rom 8:34). This is the truth revealed to Job in the depths of his anguish - there is someone who always intercedes for us. This intercessor is our greatest model in praying for others, but all those Bible heroes I have mentioned also show us the greatest truth about intercession - to be effective their must be an identifying with those for whom we intercede.
Jesus identified with sinful people by submitting to baptism; Nehemiah, undoubtedly a godly man, confessed the sins of the Israelites as if they were his own; Esther revealed her nationality when all the Jews were under threat of death. And so the list goes on - Daniel, Moses, Abraham, all identified with the people and stood in the gap at risk to themselves.
Have we ever interceded like that? Have we ever come before God, so desperate for our prayers for another to be answered that we identify with them completely, that we are willing to sacrifice ourselves for them? Have we wept and fasted as part of our intercession like these great saints? Have we pleaded with the Father for Him to act, I mean really pleaded?
Prayer College Assignment
God is actively seeking for people to stand in the gap, to intercede for others (Ezek 22:30-31). Remarkably, it seems that He will change His plans if we will but identify ourselves with the people around us and plead with Him on their behalf. Take up the challenge and offer yourself to Him as an intercessor. You may be all that stands between someone and their destruction.