Intercession: Standing in the Gap
There are few things more clarifying in our language around belief than having to explain the tenets of our faith and practices to a Muslim, and few things are more confounding to them than this idea that we can pray on behalf of someone else. In a system where your religious practices earn you non-transferrable favor with God, this concept that we might offer to pray on your behalf is often met with blank faces or puzzled looks. How does that even work?
And, as in many tenets of our faith, all we can do – and want to do – is point them to our beloved Christ. The word comes from a Latin word meaning to “come in between” and by that definition, Jesus was the ultimate intercessor, literally and figuratively throwing Himself across the chasm separating us from God, both in His death and resurrection but also in His life and ministry here on the Earth. He threw Himself between the Pharisees, their stones, and their accusations and the woman caught in adultery. He threw Himself between the demoniac and the spirit that would throw the boy into the fire. In many places He stood between death and life as He healed many both before and after their bodies had succumbed to its final toll. He positioned Himself between man and creation in the calming of the storm, and between the rejection of communities and the outcasts that found themselves discarded and unlovable. And Scripture tells us plainly in Romans 8:24 that even after His ascension, He continues to plead and intercede on our behalf. It is from Him we learn the nuance of standing in the gap.
“Jesus was the ultimate intercessor, literally and figuratively throwing Himself across the chasm separating us from God, both in His death and resurrection but also in His life and ministry here on the Earth.”
Garden of Gethsemane, Jerusalem, Israel
Intercession is standing in the Gap of Knowledge.
It’s standing in the space between people and their awareness of who they were created to be. It’s looking beyond who they are, which tree they are choosing to eat from and where they are stuck in their knowledge or lack thereof, and saying, “It’s okay. I see who you were meant to be. I believe you can still choose that person. I can pray for you.”
Intercession is standing in the Gap of Presence.
It’s understanding the gap between physical presence can often be filled with spiritual insight and impact. It’s knowing that my time on my knees can have spiritual ripple effects in nations that are a world away from my prayer space. It’s choosing to look the magnitude of the world’s population with their tsunami of need in the face and say, “It’s okay. I’ll never know you or maybe even your real name, but I refuse to buckle under the big-ness of the call. Because of the vastness of the Father, I can never know you, and still choose to pray for you.”
Intercession is standing in the Gap of Words.
It’s entering the space between the experience of life-wrenching pain and hope, where people find themselves breathless and wordless in their loss and saying, “It’s okay. I have words. I can pray for you.”
Intercession is standing in the Gap of Acceptance.
It’s standing in the space between oblivion and the visceral awareness that this life is battle, and souls are won and lost on the battlefield of prayer. It’s choosing to look the world’s priorities, deadlines, expectations, and warnings in the face and say, “It’s okay. I know what’s really going on here and I know what’s really important. I can armor up and I can pray for you.”
“…life is battle, and souls are won and lost on the battlefield of prayer.”
Intercession is standing in the Gap of Safety.
It’s entering the space between human reason and rationale and the reality of the spiritual realm. It’s looking beyond the end of the pointed gun, the tip of the spear, the threat of rejection and ruin, the end of the treatment plan. It’s saying, “It’s okay. I know what comes next, and because of that, even in the face of this, I can pray for you.”
Intercession is standing in the Gap of Redemption.
It’s recognizing where the gift of free of will is colliding with the requirement of mediation in the presence of God. It’s following in the footsteps of Abram and Jeremiah, of Moses and Paul and Esther, and saying, “It’s okay. You do not yet wear the Blood of the Lamb that is the invitation to come before the throne, but I do, and I’ll plead for His mercy on your behalf. I can pray for you.”
Intercession is standing in the Gap of Self-Absorption.
It’s standing amongst other believers trapped in the habit of ineffective navel-gazing and refusing to buy into the idea that Christ came to bring me optimum comfort and ease. It’s lifting our heads up from our lives and our needs to see those around us with heads still bowed and say, “It’s okay. In Christ, I have all I need. I see your lack is more. I can pray for you.”
Intercession is standing in the Gap of Discernment.
It’s a willingness to enter into the space between knowing what I know and knowing what I don’t and risking failure. It’s acknowledging that very little can be seen without spiritual eyes and asking for those lenses to be cleaned regularly and often. It’s saying, “It’s okay. I know not everything is being shown on the outside. I know that your needs run deeper than you are sharing. We have a God who Sees, and I can pray for you.”
Intercession is standing in the Gap of Sympathy.
It’s refusing to sit ineffectively in the seat of the sympathizer that just “notices” and stops there, and to move instead into the space between deep empathy and action. Where the understanding runs so deep we cannot sit idly by, but must enter the fray, risk the wounding and the disappointment, and work to impact the outcome. It’s saying, “It’s okay. I’ve been there. You aren’t alone. I choose active empathy. I can pray for you.”
Intercession is standing in the Gap of Alignment.
It’s acknowledging, repeatedly the vast canyon between my understanding of the game and God’s. It’s living viscerally aware at my ant-like perspective and tendency to get it wrong when I gaze forward, and to choose to fight the sin-infected urge to move in misguided confidence and to instead choose to seek heavenly alignment. It’s saying, “It’s okay. I’m confused too, because I was expecting something else, but I know this God, and He is Good. And even though I got it wrong this time, I can pray for you.”
Intercession is a calling and a command. It’s a privilege and an act of war. It’s for the deeply bought in and not for the feint of heart. It’s a lifetime of learning to leave the comfort and complacency for the void in between; to place ourselves intentionally and regularly in the space between others and their spiritual threats. It’s exposure. It’s secret places. It’s risk. It’s eternal reward. It’s deep effort. It’s learning release. It’s camaraderie and linking shields. It’s disappointment and limitations—us and others letting us down. It’s impact and effectiveness. It’s helplessness. It’s the first line of defense. It’s the last ditch effort. It’s deep in the trenches and high above of the earth. It’s immense and utter joy when a battle has been won. It’s literal blood, sweat, and tears.
See you on field, Warrior Friend.