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                          Why intercession?

The Heart of intercession Lk 11:9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  Lk 11:10 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. This a common scripture used in regarding prayer however the English does not do it justice.  The original language had a broader connotation especially regarding the time frame. In our "instant" society the idea of waiting and persevering are strange topics. However God's methods do not change. Those early Christians would have read "Keep on asking for something to be given and it shall be given you. Keep on seeking and you shall find. Keep on reverently knocking and it shall be opened to you"  You will notice that this is not a one-time request but a respectful continual seeking. However if we are to understand this further we need the context, before and after this scripture to help us understand Jesus thoughts on prayer. Just before Luke 11:9 we have Jesus answer to how we should pray, what we call the "Lord's Prayer". then sandwiched between the prayer and our familiar text (ask/seek/knock) he interjects this story about a guest unexpectedly coming to a man's house. Lk 11:5 Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,  Lk 11:6 because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’ Lk 11:7 “Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’  Lk 11:8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs. Why would Jesus tell this story? It almost gives the impression the Father is reluctant to help us, or that He is too busy with more important matters. Again that is our culture talking, for the Easterner the moral or "the pith and substance" is the key. So what do we see? Jesus is getting us to put ourselves mentally in a story where we have an unexpected guest arrive. How would we respond, we have no food and this guest is important to us. So we boldly go to our neighbour, not because we have are being selfish but because our request is good and right. We will not be deterred. This is the substance of the story.  Jesus is not telling us about God's character but remember the question that prompted this discussion. "teach us to pray". He is answering that question. He is saying we Must continue to ask and ask with a Holy boldness. We must know the word of God so we can assess if our need is right and good and once we know the mind of the Father, we press on in our prayers until we see it come to pass. Therefore when we do not see answered prayers and our intersession is failing, we need to ask ourselves. 1) Do we KNOW this is the Fathers will 2) Are we giving up Finally in that same paragraph Jesus continues with this: Lk 11:11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?  Lk 11:12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?  Lk 11:13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” God the Father wants to give us The Spirit. He wants us to succeed with His plans. Let us not throw in the towel but firmly press on towards the goal trusting the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth. Children of God, intimately know our Father and pray boldly. Why do our prayers not get answered? 1 Jn 5:14-15 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. The question we sometimes have is, why does this not appear to be our experience? We ask and we don't receive, we seek and we don't find. What is wrong? Isaiah's day was much like our own, there was great wealth and prosperity. The people seemed to want to follow God, they prayed and fasted for their nation and families. But something was amiss. They were seeking but few or no answers came. Through the prophet , God answered that burning question "God, if you are there why don't you answer" Isa 58:2-3 For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them.  ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ Does this not sound like a people pursuing God and His kingdom? Could this be similar to our time? But beneath the surface God saw something else, and it grieved Him. Isa 58:4-7 “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.  Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?  “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? In Israel, the days of fasting were times set apart to pray and seek God, to spend the time you would otherwise be making meals and eating, in focused prayer. Isaiah is showing us that when we are not seeing answers to our prayers even fervent prayers, we need to ask ourselves. Are we helping those around us, defending them and supporting them in their struggles? When a friend or co workers marriage is failing or someone goes through a period of unemployment are we there to support, pray and give financially? Do we open up our homes and our lives to those who are our "neighbour"? If we do then this is what God says will happen Isa 58:8-9 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. If we respond to those people God places in our path to help  He says He will listen and answer us when we are struggling ourselves.  “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, Isa 58:10 "and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday." But as you can see God is not finished, He continues to challenges us. Are we gossiping about those neighbors, school mates, church members and co-workers around us? Do we ignore their need like the priest and Levite in the story of the good Samaritan? If we responded yes to any of the above questions, we might find our answer for why our prayers are not answered. This will take some sober thought and reflection, seeking the Holy Spirit and asking some hard questions of ourselves and our priorities. Remember, our Father wants to answer our prayers but He also expects our heart and actions to be like His. His goal is for us to express His kingdom on this Earth. So as we pray for ourselves, or families, our city and nation, let us eagerly follow the path of our loving Lord. Let us act with compassion and Holy Spirit directed action towards our "neighbours" Lk 10:36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” Lk 10:37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
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