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What is a personal intercessor?

A personal intercessor is simply someone who undertakes to intercede for someone else’s personal needs. It need not be someone with a so-called ‘gift of intercession’. All Christians have the responsibility to pray and intercede. The Lord calls different people to intercede for different issues.

One big problem is that Christians sometimes pray for their minister/pastor, but forget to pray for missionaries. It is the responsibility of the church to pray for missionaries and evangelists also. If the church does not do this, no one will. The church is made up of members, and they should be very focused in praying for all spiritual workers in their church. God can, and sometimes will, lead individuals to pray for people that do not belong to their church.

Why pray for spiritual workers?
A spiritual worker is only human; they are attacked by the evil one, they often meet with opposition and they still have the ability to sin. Without effective intercession for them and their work, they will remain largely ineffective. I am convinced that power and spiritual results will increase when there are focused prayer for spiritual workers. Many spiritual workers can testify to this.

One might ask why we should pray more for spiritual workers and leaders than for ordinary members of the congregation. Here are a few reasons:

  • Prayer is one of the major sources of power for spiritual workers.
  • Spiritual workers have more responsibility and are accountable for more than ordinary members of the congregation.
  • They are more subjected to temptation and onslaughts from the devil because their position and influence is so prominent.
  • Spiritual workers are often the target of onslaughts by Satanists and spiritualist groups as well.
  • Decisions made by spiritual workers influence more people than those made by other church members.
  • If and when spiritual workers sin, the consequences are more devastating than when an ordinary member of the congregation sins.

Resistance to personal intercession
It seems odd that many spiritual leaders/workers resist the idea of personal intercessors. It is not without reason that many missionaries and spiritual leaders hesitate to pass on personal prayer requests to members. Nevertheless, I am convinced that, if handled carefully, much fruit and blessing can result from personal intercession for spiritual workers.

Here are some reasons for resistance that spiritual workers might consider prayerfully:

  • Privacy: It seems that spiritual leaders/workers do not want the congregation, and in this instance intercessors, to get too close to them. Many spiritual workers put a high premium on their privacy to their own detriment.
  • Ignorance: Many spiritual leaders/workers are ignorant about the effect and profit of personal intercession to their ministry. They also do not know how to find personal intercessors.
  • Individualism: Some spiritual workers have ‘I can do it all’ attitude. They cannot delegate nor do they trust others to help them. These ministers and missionaries still operate on the shepherd-flock system, and they do not understand that they need the church to intercede for them.
  • Fear: Other spiritual workers are driven by fear – fear of exposing themselves and becoming more vulnerable by sharing personal matters with their intercessors. Sometimes, this fear is justified, especially when how often the privilege and responsibility to pray for a spiritual worker is abused is taken into consideration.
  • Pride: Sometimes, pride prevents spiritual workers from asking ‘ordinary people’ to pray for them, and this is, of course, also to their detriment. These spiritual workers have an attitude of ‘I’m the spiritual leader. If God is going to do something, He will do it through me. I don’t need anyone’.
  • Excessive/extreme humility: There are spiritual workers who feel that they abuse people if they ask them to pray for them. They feel guilty for being important enough to be prayed for! They reason that everybody needs an equal amount of prayer, and they believe it is presumptuous and selfish to request personal intercession. This is a lie and it defrauds spiritual workers from much spiritual blessing.

Each spiritual worker must personally make a decision about this matter. If intercession is handled with maturity and responsibility, spiritual workers will reap the positive spiritual fruits thereof. It is good to be prudent, but we must avoid the devil cheating us out of abundant blessing because of faults and mistakes of the past. If someone drives a car recklessly, it would be foolish to have all cars banned from the road! It is the duty of each individual to handle intercession responsibly.

The spiritual worker’s own prayer life
The idea is not to ask for more prayer for spiritual workers, so they can pray less. The spiritual worker must have his/her own relationship with the Lord. Part of that relationship involves prayer. In general, however, there is cause for concern about the prayer lives of spiritual leaders. Many of them make little time for prayer. Work prevails over prayer and fellowship with God.

Research reveals that Western ministers spend an average of 5-7 minutes per day in prayer. Ministers in the East spend about 30-60 minutes per day in prayer. It is distressing to hear missionaries and ministers say that they do not have time for prayer! They are just ‘too busy’. I often think about David Yongi Cho, leader of the largest church in the world, who regularly spends three hours per day in prayer. It is a matter of priority with him; therefore, he simply makes time for three hours per day for prayer. One cannot argue with the results of his ministry!

Each spiritual worker must make an honest assessment of his spiritual abilities and pray accordingly. They may start off with 10 minutes per day in prayer, but this is not sufficient for anyone who yearns for more power and fruit in their ministry. However, they can increase their time in prayer every day as they grow spiritually. I am of the opinion that every spiritual worker should spend at least 30-60 minutes per day in prayer. There will be days when it will be possible to spend more time in prayer and sometimes the spiritual worker will be forced to spend less time in prayer for a day of two. Some days, 15-30 minutes of prayer per day will suffice. Other times, it will be necessary to put aside a day or two for prayer. Just as every spiritual worker has certain gifts, some spiritual workers will spend more time in prayer (they can effortlessly spend longer periods in prayer) than others. It can destroy a person’s faith and lead to feelings of guilt if spiritual workers compare themselves with others who do so.

Unrealistic prayer goals
We may read about George Müller, David Brainerd, Edward Payson, John Wesley, Adoniram Judson, John Welsch, Rees Howells and other prayer warriors, and think that this is expected of us as well. Even if we do not expect it of ourselves, we fear others will expect it of us. A lack of spiritual power is often only attributed to too little prayer. However, while more prayer awards more power, prayer without obedience and a holy walk will have no power. The influence of intercessory prayer by other believers for these great men of faith is hardly ever mentioned.

Responsibility in prayer
It is important to note that Scripture does not mention intercession as a gift; it is a responsibility. Some Christians simply don’t pray because they believe they ‘don’t have the gift of intercession’. Prayer remains an integral part of every believer’s life. Likewise, spiritual workers should not feel relieved of their own prayer responsibility when they acquire personal intercessors. Prayer cannot be transferred to someone else.

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