The War against Intercession
by Samuel Whitefield
Excerpt adapted from Mercy Before Judgment.
Satan fears the Church taking her place of intercession, because intercession is a governmental place and has disastrous implications for him and his future.
The judgment of Satan’s kingdom is connected to the intercession of the Church. Therefore, he will do everything he can to prevent the Church from entering into her intercessory calling. We assume the Church’s weakness in intercession is basically the result of human dullness and compromise, but there is far more at work than what the human eye can observe. Satan’s war on the Church goes far beyond tempting the saints to engage in overt evil. He engages in a number of schemes to keep the Church from walking in her intercessory calling so that he might delay his future.
Accusation is one of Satan’s primary schemes. The Bible calls him the “accuser of the brethren” because he releases accusation day and night. He releases accusation among the Body to stir strife and conflict, accusation against us before God, and accusations in our own minds. These constant accusations are part of his scheme to keep the Church from taking her place of governmental authority.
The main thing that determines how you live your life is what you think about God. In his classic book The Knowledge of the Holy, A. W. Tozer identified this as the root issue:
What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. . . . For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church. Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God.
What we think about God affects every area of our lives. The way we speak, the way we think, the way we live, and especially the way we pray reveal what we think about God.
The greatest factor in a life of intercession is a right view of God.
The Primary Hindrance to Intercession
There are several things that can hinder intercession, but the primary thing that hinders it is a wrong view of God.
As long as we have distorted views about God, we will never operate in the fullness of our intercessory calling. When we live from a true knowledge of God, though, it changes everything, so this is the primary area where Satan attacks the Church. If he can distort your knowledge of God, you will not take your governmental place to advance the work of God and ultimately see Satan’s kingdom dismantled and his place removed.
Accusation and shame are Satan’s two primary weapons in this age to keep you from becoming an intercessor.
If you entertain his accusations, you will not have the confidence to stand in your intercessory assignment. His accusations lead to shame, and if you entertain these accusations, shame will keep you from standing before God with confidence. We must be aware of this scheme. We often treat shame as if it is the godly sorrow that flows from conviction, but the two are very different.
Conviction, repentance, and godly sorrow are all designed to restore communion with God. Shame destroys communion with God because, if you are gripped by shame, the last thing you want to do is boldly approach the only perfect Person in the cosmos.
We must embrace conviction and repentance to recover communion unto intercession. However, shame and accusation must not be tolerated because they drive you from the place of intercession.
You must make war on shame and accusation in yourself, in others, and in the church community. It is not a small thing. These are weapons the enemy wields to cripple you and keep you from exercising your authority. Thankfully, both weapons are easily destroyed by simple confidence in the blood of Jesus—which gives us access to God by faith. Because of what Jesus has done, we can approach the Father with the same confidence Jesus has.
The enemy’s schemes are not defeated by our own ability; they are defeated by what Jesus has done. When we entertain accusation and shame, it shows a lack of confidence in the blood of Jesus. Because what Jesus has done will stand forever, we may confidently approach God without fear.
The enemy tries to frighten us with our own weaknesses and shortcomings, but we can confidently walk the raging battlefield of the enemy’s schemes because of the blood. A right knowledge of God will dismantle every scheme of the enemy and enable us to take our place with confidence.
God told Ezekiel that Daniel was among the greatest intercessors in history. There are many reasons that this was a profound statement. For example, Daniel worked for a pagan king and had no public ministry that we know of. Three times in Daniel’s book, he was told from heaven that he was “greatly beloved” in response to his intercession. Daniel did not record these statements so that we would think he was an incredible person. He recorded these statements so that we would know how God feels about us when we take our place before Him, because this confidence is critical to intercession.
We are “greatly beloved” when we take the blood of Jesus seriously and stand before God. Accusation and shame are attacks against the knowledge of God—mere illusions designed by the enemy to keep us from walking in our calling.
Intercession Must Be Based on the Knowledge of God
Shame and accusation are the enemy’s leading weapons against us, but wrong ideas about who God is also create multiple barriers to intercession. For example, if we view intercession predominantly as loud prayer designed to make God do something He will not do unless we force Him, we have a wrong view of intercession that comes from a wrong view of God.
The foundation of our intercession is not the condition of people. People deserve the wrath of God, and the reality of hell is not embarrassing to God. Hell is a place of justice, and it glorifies God. We do not enter into intercession to “save” people from God’s judgments, as if His judgments are too extreme. His judgments are perfect. We enter into intercession because God desires to display His glory in mercy and in judgment. The issue of mercy is the issue of God. Biblical intercessors understood this, and their intercession always appealed to God’s character.
We do not base intercession on the needs of people. We base it on the desire of God to show mercy. Once we realize that intercession is an act of participation in what God has decreed He will do, it radically shapes how we engage in intercession.
A true knowledge of God removes barriers to intercession, so we must learn the knowledge of God. We must know who He is to have confidence before Him. There are several ways God has revealed Himself. Above all, He has revealed Himself in the person of His Son. We must pursue the knowledge of God first and foremost in Jesus, who is the ultimate intercessor.
God is not some disembodied ideal or an isolated, unreachable deity. He is a real Person, and He has chosen to reveal Himself in relationship. Within Himself, He is revealed to us as the Trinity—God in fellowship with Himself. While God’s revelation of Himself in the person of Jesus is the ultimate revelation of who He is, He also reveals Himself through His relationship with His people.
God declares His attributes in the Bible, but most of the Bible is not isolated statements about God’s attributes. Most of the space in the Bible is taken up by stories whereby God reveals His attributes through His interactions with His people. For example, the Bible tells us God is merciful and patient, but if our only frame of reference is human mercy, we will never truly understand the nature of His mercy. However, when we read the Bible, it reveals the depths of God’s mercy. We can read God’s interactions with David, who failed spectacularly but was not abandoned by God. We can read the story of the woman at the well and see Jesus proactively offered mercy to a disgraced woman guilty of adultery. We can read about Paul’s transformation from a persecutor of Christians to an apostle.
In the same way, we may know God heals, but when God personally heals us, our knowledge of Him as the God who heals is dramatically different from when we hear a description of God as a healing God. We know each other most intimately in the context of relationship, and our true character is revealed in how we respond in certain situations. It is the same with God.
The stories of the Bible are not primarily history lessons. First and foremost, they are revelations of who God is. The stories of the Bible are like a canvas, and the authors are like painters, revealing God to us by recounting their stories. As we read these stories, we form ideas about who God is. Yet, there are very real challenges in our understanding the stories, for they all occur in a time that differs greatly from our time and a cultural context different from ours. Furthermore, most of us do not read these stories in the original language in which they were written; instead, we read them in translated versions.
These challenges can lead us to form wrong assumptions about who God is, and these assumptions can cause us to easily misinterpret who He is if we do not carefully study how He relates to His creation. To dismantle every scheme of the enemy, we must know the full context of God’s interactions with the great intercessors of history so that we know how to relate to Him in our time.
Where do you feel attacked in intercession, and how can you overcome it?
Want more from Samuel Whitefield? His book Mercy Before Judgement: The Invitation to Intercession, from which this excerpt was taken, is available at the Forerunner Bookstore. Learn more >>
Samuel Whitefield serves as faculty at IHOPU.