The Difference between Prayer and Intercession

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You didn’t know there was a difference? Well neither did I. But in a single sentence, prayer is what you do and intercession is what Yahweh tells you to pray. 

(The future church will probably refer to God as Yahweh and Jesus as Yeshua as more and more Messianic Jews enter Christian circles.)

Prayer is automatic

Prayer is natural, that is, when you are in a tight spot, you pray automatically. You don’t really need to think about it.

One reporter said when people are in a car accident, the first thing they say is “Oh God no.” Vladimir Putin, affirmed atheist and Communist boss said when he entered the Oval Office during George W. Bush’s Presidency, “Oh my God.” I thought Putin didn’t have a god! We can’t stop that kind of prayer.

Intercession is deliberate

In contrast, intercession is what Yahweh wants done. This past week I could not get to sleep thinking about a friend. The Bible calls this a “burden.” It is something on your mind and you don’t have a clue what it is all about. I asked someone, do you ever think God is sitting on your chest? That is the way I felt.

Burdens are spiritual pressure

I knew nothing about this person that might be wrong. I called the next day, and nothing seemed wrong, but then again, nothing seemed right either.

The scripture says this: “If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does and seeks to provide us a prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.” Romans 8:27

An old friend of mine, Jackie, was driving along one day and she began to cry. She pulled over to the side of the road because she could not see through her tears, and started praying for a mutual friend named David. That went on for about a half hour. Then she dried her tears and drove off.

Later she learned David was standing on the roof of a building ready to commit suicide that afternoon. David told her later that as he stood on the edge of the roof he felt a giant hand hold him back and he stepped down. That is intercession.

The Holy Spirit Groans

The same word, groan, appears once more in the New Testament. John 11:33 “When Yahshua therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.” This verse appears right before Yahshua raised Lazarus from the dead. The Greek word can also be translated as “sigh” which is what you would do if Yahweh sat on your chest.

The notion of a spiritual burden also appears in 2 Corinthians 5:4, referring to our physical bodies and wanting to be released to heaven. These earthly bodies make us groan and sigh,. We want to slip into our new bodies so that these dying bodies will, as it were, be swallowed up by everlasting life.

The Greek word for groan is bareo, meaning pressure. You feel pressured to pray for someone which is intercession. We can rejoice that Yahweh has given us this blessing to pray for others, when we have no notion they need it.

Many of these posts are responses to questions, so I invite them here. [email protected]

#spiritualburden #pressurefromGod #suicideprevented #HolySpirit

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@Apologetics @GodsWord @ChristianNonfiction @BibliosBlood @Faith @HolySpirit @Christ @truth @endtimes @thewarriordifference @ChristianTwitterCommunity @NationalYouthOnline @JesusMyRighteousness @Jesus @FreeWill @ChristianPhilosophy


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The Ministry of the Watchman – An observer on the wall sharing a report of what God is seeing and doing in the world at large and also in the congregations of His people. Cornelia Scott Cree, Watchman, Change Agent, Essayist.

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The Ministry of the Watchman – An observer on the wall sharing a report of what God is seeing and doing in the world at large and also in the congregations of His people. Cornelia Scott Cree, Watchman, Change Agent, Essayist.

16 Responses

    1. I don’t hear very much from my readers. I’ve had 59000 here over 8 years and another 100,000 on Quora and Twitter so I wonder what they think? Thank you for a little feedback.

        1. Well thanks to you too. I was just fussing to a friend of mine. I am read by 35,000 at Twitter each month, another 7,000 on Quora and I might get a comment twice a year!

  1. Yes, I agree with others. This is a great explanation of the two. It’s frustrating when you are seeking understanding and you only find vague descriptions.

    1. My experience with Bible teachers, and this happened in seminary too, is that they copy what they have read or heard rather than having a personal experience to draw from.

  2. New Year’s blessings. Today’s daily reading from ‘Our Daily Bread’ led me to search for these meanings. I aimlessly pray when things are bothering me. Now I’ll do it with more discernment. Let my spirit groan so that I can intercede. Shalom.

  3. Thank you for this article. I stumbled upon it because I feel like God is using me in a very unusual way and I am seeking confirmation that what I am experiencing is real and others can relate. I was baptized in the Holy Spirit earlier this year and can speak in tongues and I do daily and frequently. All my life I have had a hypersensitivity so I know that I have a heightened ability to be over stimulated. After I was baptized by the Holy Spirit I can literally feel him in me ALL the time. He never leaves me. I can call out his name and I can feel him. So I began to try and see if I can ask questions and if he would respond with a sensory answer. That seems to sometimes work but not always.
    Anyway back to my original reason for stumbling on this article… I feel like God calls me to speak in my prayer language for others as an intercession to someone or something and I am seeking confirmation that this is possible and others have had this request too. I will get a sudden strong tingling from him and I feel like he wants me to pray so I do in my prayer language. I even felt it last night in the middle of the night when I had randomly woke up, started to pray, stopped after a little then felt I should continue and then a bit later the Holy Spirit stopped my praying (he does that by bringing my voice down and literally stops the sounds out of my mouth). Then I fell back to sleep. And I do all this speaking in tongues.
    Does this sound like anything you have heard before?

    1. One of the ways we know it is the Holy Spirit is because it actually is very different for everyone. Sometimes theologians will say ministry must happen only one way – that is religion at work. Your life in Christ is in faith, not religion.
      It appears to me that you have been given intercession as a ministry. I know a few people who claim this. You will probably not get any public accolades for this as prayer is personal, private and you are usually isolated. A friend of mine years ago was given an intercession ministry and the Lord told her, “if you speak your prayer out loud, a boy in a prison cell will hear it.” I know of no case in the Bible that confirms this, but we do know that praying for others is a high calling, and it brings no real fame and riches to you.
      So go for it.
      Over the coming years God will give you confirmation, just like my friend hearing from her friend David that he had tried suicide and her intervention saved the day. Almost everything you pray will be by faith alone. I had one friend tell me that he was riding along and saw a license plate that said Thomas. Immediately he felt God was telling him to pray for someone with that name. Isn’t that cool?
      Be blessed in your ministry. And don’t worry about the consequences. As long as you are praying in concert with the Word of God, you’re on the right track.
      The devil may condemn you for what you are doing, but that only tells you that you have been obedient and effective.

      1. Thank you for your words! One last question… do you think that we can do intercessory work via speaking in tongues?

    2. I just found this nice note from January!! My blog is being redone by professionals and who knows what it will end up looking like. What the Holy Spirit has you doing is your personal instructions and methods. He works with us all differently. Glad to have you on duty in the night. Our country is in trouble right now and prayer is needed. And lots of it.

  4. Michele – I just found your comment. Tongues edifies our spirits, so says the word, so yes, instructing our spirit will allow us to pray about things and projects that are on God’s heart, about which you may have no clue. If an interpretation comes to you as well, fine, but it may not be important for you to know. More and more I ask God to help me not overload myself with wasted work. many good things are not great. Blessings to you and your ministry. Someday you’ll see a report card in heaven.

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