Helps to Intercession
by Andrew Murray
PREFACE – PRAY WITHOUT CEASING
Pray Without Ceasing. – Who can do this? How can one do it who is surrounded by the cares of daily life? How can a mother love her child without ceasing? How can the eyelid without ceasing hold itself ready to protect the eye? How can I breathe and feel and hear without ceasing? Because all these are the functions of a healthy, natural life. And so, if the spiritual life be healthy, under the full power of the Holy Spirit, praying without ceasing will be natural. Pray Without Ceasing. – Does it refer to continual acts of prayer, in which we are to persevere till we obtain, or to the spirit of prayerfulness that should animate us all the day? It includes both. The example of our Lord Jesus shows us this. We have to enter our closet for special seasons of prayer; we are at times to persevere there in importunate prayer. We are also all the day to walk in God’s presence, with the whole heart set upon heavenly things. Without set times of prayer, the spirit of prayer will be dull and feeble. Without the continual prayerfulness, the set times will not avail.
Pray Without Ceasing. – Does that refer to prayer for ourselves or others? To both. It is because many confine it to themselves that they fail so in practicing it. It is only when the branch gives itself to bear fruit, more fruit, much fruit, that it can live a healthy life, and expect a rich inflow of sap. The death of Christ brought Him to the place of everlasting intercession. Your death with Him to sin and self sets you free from the care of self, and elevates you to the dignity of intercessor – one who can get life and blessing from God for others. Know your calling; begin this your work. Give yourself wholly to it, and before you know it you will be finding something of this “Praying always” within you.
Pray Without Ceasing. – How can I learn it? The best way of learning to do a thing – in fact the only way – is to do it. Begin by setting apart some time every day, say ten or fifteen minutes, in which you say to God and to yourself, that you come to Him now as an intercessor for others. Let it be after your morning or evening prayer, or any other time. If you cannot secure the same time every day, do not be troubled. Only see that you do your work. Christ chose you and appointed you to pray for others. If at first you do not feel any special urgency or faith or power in your prayers, do not let that hinder you. Quietly tell your Lord Jesus of your feebleness; believe that the Holy Spirit is in you to teach you to pray, and be assured that if you begin, God will help you. God cannot help you unless you begin and keep on.
Pray Without Ceasing. – How do I know what to pray for? If once you begin, and think of all the needs around you, you will soon find enough. But to help you, this little book is issued with subjects and hints for prayer for a month. It is meant that we should use it month by month, until we know more fully how to follow the Spirit’s leading, and have learned, if need be, to. make our own list of subjects, and then can dispense with it. In regard to the use of these helps, a few words may be needed.
1. How to Pray. – You notice for every day two headings – the one What to Pray; the other, How to Pray. If the subjects only were given, one might fall into the routine of mentioning names and things before God, and the work would become a burden. The hints under the heading How to Pray, are meant to remind you of the spiritual nature of the work, of the need of Divine help, and to encourage faith in the certainty that God, through the Spirit, will give us grace to pray aright and will also hear our prayer. One does not at once learn to take his place boldly, and to dare to believe that he will be heard. Therefore take a few moments each day to listen to God’s voice reminding you of how certainly even you will be heard, and calling on you to pray in that faith in your Father, to claim and take the blessing you plead for. And let these words about How to Pray, enter your hearts and occupy your thoughts at other times, too. The work of intercession is Christ’s great work on earth, entrusted to Him because He gave Himself a sacrifice to God for men. The work of intercession is the greatest work a Christian can do. Give yourself as a sacrifice to God for men, and the work will become your glory and your joy, too.
2. What to Pray. – Scripture calls us to pray for many things: for all saints; for all men, for kings and all rulers; for all who are in adversity; for the sending forth of laborers; for those who labor in the gospel; for all converts; for believers who have fallen into sin; for one another in our own immediate circles. The Church is now so much larger than when the New Testament was written; the number of forms of work and workers is so much greater; the needs of the Church and the world are so much better known, that we need to take time and thought to see where prayer is needed, and to what our hearts are most drawn out. The Scriptural calls to prayer demand a large heart, taking in all saints, and all men, and all needs. An attempt has been made in these helps to indicate what the chief subjects are that need prayer, and that ought to interest every Christian.
It will be felt difficult by many to pray for such large spheres as are sometimes mentioned. Let it be understood that in each case we may make special intercession for our own circle of interest coming under that heading. And it is hardly needful to say, further, that where one subject appears of more special interest or urgency than another we are free for a time, day after day, to take up that subject. If only time be really given to intercession, and the spirit of believing intercession be cultivated, the object is attained. While, on the one hand, the heart must be enlarged at times to take in all, the more pointed and definite our prayer can be, the better. With this view paper is left blank on which we can write down special petitions we desire to urge before God.
3. Answers to Prayer. – More than one little book has been published in which Christians may keep a register of their petitions, and note when they are answered. Room has been left on every page for this, so that more definite petitions with regard to individual souls or special spheres of work may be recorded, and the answer expected. When we pray for all saints, or for missions in general, it is difficult to know when or how our prayer is answered, or whether our prayer has had any part in bringing the answer. It is of extreme importance that we should prove that God hears us, and to this end take note of what answers to look for, and when they come. On the day of praying for all saints, take the saints of your congregation, or in your prayer meeting, and ask for a revival among them. Take, in connection with missions, some special station or missionary you are interested in, or more than one, and plead for blessing. And expect and look for its coming, that you may praise God.
4. Prayer Circles. – In publishing this invitation to intercession, there is no desire to add another to the many existing prayer unions or praying bands. The first object is to stir the many Christians who practically, through ignorance of their calling or unbelief as to their prayer availing much, take but very little part in the work of intercession; and then to help those who do pray to some fuller apprehension of the greatness of the work, and the need of giving their whole strength to it. There is a circle of prayer which asks for prayer on the first day of every month for the fuller manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit throughout the Church. I have given the words of that invitation as subject for the first day, and taken the same thought as keynote throughout. The more one thinks of the need and the promise, and the greatness of the obstacles to be overcome in prayer, the more one feels it must become our life work day by day, that to which every other interest is subordinated.
But while not forming a large prayer union, it is suggested that it may be found helpful to have small prayer circles to unite in prayer, either for one month, with some special object introduced daily along with the others, or through a year or longer, with the view of strengthening each other in the grace of intercession. If a minister were to invite some of his neighboring brethren to join for some special requests along with the printed subjects for supplication, or a number of the more earnest members of his congregation to unite in prayer for revival, some might be trained to take their place in the great work of intercession, who now stand idle because no man hath hired them.
5. Who is Sufficient for These Things? – The more we study and try to practice this grace of intercession, the more we become overwhelmed by its greatness and our feebleness. Let every such impression lead us to listen: My grace is sufficient for thee, and to answer truthfully: Our sufficiency is of God. Take courage; it is in the intercession of Christ you are called to take part. The burden and the agony, the triumph and the victory are all His. Learn from Him, yield to His Spirit in you, to know how to pray. He gave Himself a sacrifice to God for men,that He might have the right and power of intercession. “He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Let your faith rest boldly on His finished work. Let your heart wholly identify itself with Him in His death and His life. Like Him, give yourself to God a sacrifice for men; it is your highest nobility; it is your true and full union with Him; it will be to you, as to Him, your power of intercession. Beloved Christian! come and give your whole heart and life to intercession, and you will know its blessedness and its power. God asks nothing less; the world needs nothing less; Christ asks nothing less; let us offer to God nothing less.
What to Pray – For the Power of the Holy Spirit.
I bow my Knees unto the Father, that He would grant you that ye may be strengthened with power through His Spirit. – Eph. 3:14-16.
Wait for the promise of the Father. -Acts 1:4.
“The fuller manifestation of the grace and energy of the blessed Spirit of God, in the removal of all that is contrary to God’s revealed will, so that we grieve not the Holy Spirit, but that He may work in mightier power in the Church, for the exaltation of Christ and the blessing of souls.” God has one promise to and through His exalted Son; our Lord has one gift to His Church; the Church has one need; all prayer unites in the one petition – the power of the Holy Spirit. Make it your one prayer.
How to Pray – As a Child Asks a Father
If a son ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone! How much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him? -Luke 11:11,13.
Ask as simply and trustfully as a child asks bread. You can do this because “God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts crying, Abba, Father. ” This Spirit is in you to give you childlike confidence. In the faith of His praying in you, ask for the power of that Holy Spirit everywhere. Mention places or circles where you specially ask it to be seen.
What to Pray – For the Spirit of Supplication
The Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us. -Rom. 8:26.
I will pour out the Spirit of Supplication. -Zech. 12:10.
“The evangelization of the world depends first of all upon a revival of prayer. Deeper than the need of men – aye, deep down at the bottom of our spiritless life – is the need for the forgotten secret of prevailing, world-wide prayer.”
Every child of God has the Holy Spirit in him to pray. God waits to give the Spirit in full measure. Ask for yourself, and all who join, the outpouring of the Spirit of Supplication. Ask it for your own prayer circle.
How to Pray – In the Spirit
With all prayer and supplication, praying at all seasons in the Spirit. -Eph.:18.
Praying in the Holy Spirit. -Jude 20.
Our Lord gave His disciples on His resurrection day the Holy Spirit to enable them to wait for the full outpouring on the day of Pentecost. It is only in the power of the Spirit already in us, acknowledged and yielded to, that we can pray for His fuller manifestation. Say to the Father, it is the Spirit of His Son in you urging you to plead His promise.
What to Pray – For All Saints
With all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons, and watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplication for all saints. -Eph. 6: 18.
Every member of a body is interested in the welfare of the whole, and exists to help and complete the others. Believers are one body, and ought to pray, not so much for the welfare of their own church or society, but, first of all, for all saints. This large, unselfish love is the proof that Christ’s Spirit and Love are teaching them to pray. Pray first for all and then for the believers around you.
How to Pray – In the Love of the Spirit
By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another. -John 13:35.
I pray that they all may be one, that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me. -John 17:21.
I beseech you, brethren, by the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me. -Rom. 15:30.
Above all things being fervent in your love among yourselves. -1 Pet. 4:8.
If we are to pray we must love. Let us say to God we do love all His saints; let us say we love specially every child of His we know. Let us pray with fervent love, in the love of the Spirit.
What to Pray – For the Spirit of Holiness
God is the Holy One. His people is a holy people. He speaks: I am holy: I am the Lord which make you holy. Christ prayed: Sanctify them. Make them holy through Truth. Paul prayed: God establish your hearts unblameable in holiness. God sanctify you wholly!
Pray for all saints – God’s holy ones – throughout the Church, that the Spirit of holiness may rule them. Specially for new converts. For the saints in your own neighborhood or congregation. For any you are specially interested in. Think of their special need, weakness, or sin, and pray that God may make them holy.
How to Pray – Trusting in God ‘s Omnipotence
The things that are impossible with men are possible with God. When we think of the great things we ask for, of how little likelihood there is of their coming, of our own insignificance, prayer is not only wishing, or asking, but believing and accepting. Be still before God and ask Him to let you know Him as the Almighty One, and leave your petitions with Him Who doeth wonders.
What to Pray – That God’s People May Be Kept from the World
Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me. I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest Keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. -John 17:11, 15, 16.
In the last night Christ asked three things of His disciples: that they might be kept as those who are not of the world; that they might be sanctified; that they might be one in love. You cannot do better than pray as Jesus prayed. Ask for God’s people that they may be kept separate from the world and its spirit; that they, by the Spirit, may live as those who are not of the world.
How to Pray – Having Confidence before God
Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. – 1 John 3:21, 22.
Learn these words by heart. Get them into your heart. Join the ranks of those who, with John, draw near to God with an assured heart, that does not condemn them, having confidence toward God. In this spirit pray for your brother who sins (1 John 5: 16). In the quiet confidence of an obedient child, plead for those of your brethren who may be giving way to sin. Pray for all to be kept from the evil. And say often, “What we ask, we receive, because we keep and do.”
What to Pray – For the Spirit of Love in the Church
I pray that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them and Thou in Me; that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me . . that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them. -John 17:22, 23, 26.
The fruit of the Spirit is love. -Gal. 5:22.
Believers are one in Christ, as He is one with the Father. The love of God rests on them, and can dwell in them. Pray that the power of the Holy Ghost may so work this love in believers, that the world may see and know God’s love in them. Pray much for this.
How to Pray – As One of God ‘s Remembrancers
I have set watchmen on thy walls, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that are the Lord’s remembrancers, keep not silence, and give Him no rest.-Isa. 62:6.
Study these words until your whole soul be filled with the consciousness, I am appointed intercessor. Enter God’s presence in that faith. Study the world’s need with that thought – it is my work to intercede; the Holy Spirit will teach me for what and how. Let it be an abiding consciousness: My great at lifework, like Christ’s, is intercession – to pray for believers and those who do not yet know God.
What to Pray – For the Power of the Holy Spirit on Ministers
I beseech you that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me. -Rom. 15 :30.
He will deliver us; ye also helping together on our behalf by your supplication.. -2 Cor. 1:10, 11.
What a great host of ministers there is in Christ’s Church. What need they have of prayer. What a power they might be, if they were all clothed with the power of the Holy Ghost. Pray definitely for this; long for it. Think of your minister, and ask it very specially for him. Connect every thought of the ministry, in your town or neighborhood or the world, with the prayer that all may be filled with the Spirit. Plead for them the promise, “Tarry until ye be clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:49. “Ye shall receive power, when the Holy Ghost is come upon you. ” Acts 1 :8.
How to Pray – In Secret
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy inner chamber, and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret. -Matt. 6:6.
He withdrew again into the mountain to pray, Himself alone. -Matt. 14:23; John 6:15.
Take time and realize, when you are alone with God: Here am I now, face to face with God, to intercede for His servants. Do not think you have no influence, or that your prayer will not be missed. Your prayer and faith will make a difference. Cry in secret to God for His ministers.
What to Pray – For the Spirit on All Christian Workers
Ye also helping together on our behalf that for the gift bestowed upon us by means of many, thanks may be given by many on our behalf. -2 Cor. 1:11.
What multitudes of workers in connection with our churches and missions, our railways and postmen, our soldiers and sailors, our young men and young women, our fallen men and women, our poor and sick! God be praised for this! What could they not accomplish if each were living in the fullness of the Holy Spirit? Pray for them; it makes you a partner in their work, and you will praise God each time you hear of blessing anywhere.
How to Pray – With Definite Petitions
What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? – Luke 18:41.
The Lord knew what the man wanted, and yet He asked him. The utterance of our wish gives point to the transaction in which we are engaged with God, and so awakens faith and expectation. Be very definite in your petitions, so as to know what answer you may look for. Just think of the great host of workers, and ask and expect God definitely to bless them in answer to the prayer of His people. Then ask still more definitely for workers around you. Intercession is not the breathing out of pious wishes; its aim is – in believing, persevering prayer – to receive and bring down blessing.
What to Pray – For God’s Spirit on Our Mission Work
The evangelization of the world depends first of all upon a revival of prayer. Deeper than the need for men – aye, deep down at the bottom of our spiritless life, is the need for the forgotten secret of prevailing, world-wide prayer.
As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate Me Barnabas and Saul. Then when they had fasted and prayed, they sent them away. So they being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed. -Acts 13 3, 4.
Pray that our mission work may all be done in this spirit – waiting on God, hearing the voice of the Spirit, sending forth men with fasting and prayer. Pray that in our churches our mission interest and mission work may be in the power of the Holy Spirit and of prayer. It is a Spirit-filled, praying Church that will send out Spirit-filled missionaries, mightily in prayer.
How to Pray – Take Time
I give myself unto prayer. -Ps. 109:4.
We will give ourselves continually to prayer. -Acts 6:4.
Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God. -Eccles. 5:2.
And He continued all night in prayer to God. -Luke 6:12.
Time is one of the chief standards of value. The time we give is a proof of the interest we feel. We need time with God – to realize His presence; to wait for Him to make Himself known; to consider and feel the needs we plead for; to take our place in Christ; to pray till we can believe that we have received. Take time in prayer, and pray down blessing on the mission work of the Church .
What to Pray – For God’s Spirit on Our Missionaries
What the world needs today is not only more missionaries , but the outpouring of God ‘s Spirit on everyone whom He has sent out to work for Him in the foreign field. Ye shall receive power, when the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be My witnesses unto the uttermost part of the earth. -Acts 1:8.
God always gives His servants power equal to the work He asks of them. Think of the greatness and difficulty of this work, – casting Satan out of his strongholds – and pray that everyone who takes part in it may receive and do all his work in the power of the Holy Ghost. Think of the difficulties of your missionaries, and pray for them.
How to Pray – Trusting God ‘s Faithfulness
He is faithful that promised. She counted Him faithful who promised. -Heb. 10:23; 11:11.
Just think of God’s promises to His Son, concerning His kingdom; to the Church, concerning the heathen; to His servants, concerning their work; to yourself, concerning your prayer; and pray in the assurance that He is faithful, and only waits for prayer and faith to fulfil them. “Faithful is He that calleth you” (to pray), “who also will do it” (what He has promised). 1 Thess. 5:24. Take up individual missionaries, make yourself one with them, and pray till you know that you are heard. Oh, begin to live for Christ’s kingdom as the one thing worth living for!