The people of God – followers of Christ – are to be a praying people. The apostle Peter says of us that we are part of a holy and royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:5, 9). When we consider the priests of the Old Testament, one of their tasks was to be intercessors on behalf of the people. Today, as members of the priesthood of believers, this holy and sacred baton has been passed onto us. Are we being faithful, or have we been fumbling it?
We are told by the apostle Paul,
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. ~ 1 Timothy 2:1-6
I don’t profess to understand prayer. I only know we are called to pray. While I know God is sovereign and doesn’t need our help, I also know that He calls you and me to pray. While our prayers do not change God, in some mysterious way God has decreed that He will only do certain things in response to the prayers of His people. For example, after telling him about the corruption of the false prophets, priests, and political leaders of the day, God then tells His prophet,
And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none. Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them. I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. I have returned their way upon their heads, declares the Lord God. ~ Ezekiel 22:30-31
Did you catch that? God sought for persons to intercede for the nation, for someone to ask Him to turn away His wrath and judgment, but He couldn’t find anyone. God implies that He wouldn’t have sent destruction if He could’ve simply found someone to stand in the breach on behalf of the nation. Beloved, do you believe our nation and world aren’t experiencing the judgment of God? If not, read Romans 1. We are told of three judgements which occur as God begins giving a people over to their sins. With each judgment, there is a deeper, darker, and more dangerous pit. Beloved, whether we admit it or not, America is in the third phase of judgment. Yet, WHERE are the people of God? We’re so busy playing games in church, we don’t have time to take intercession seriously. You don’t believe me? When was the last time your pastor spoke about revival? How often do the television and radio preachers talk about it? We hear people all the time saying how crazy our world is becoming, but how many of the same are saying, “Come with me, we must pray and seek God’s face”?
How many churches today still have prayer meetings and altar calls? Of those that do, how many are filled with people pleading to God for His mercies on behalf of our nation and world? How many people truly plead to God to send revival? There is no lack of evidence for the urgency of such prayers, but where, oh where, are God’s people to be found pleading?
Beloved, let me ask you something. Why do people need the Savior? What is the eternity awaiting those who die without Jesus? These are not trick questions. And if you’re born again, you’ll know the answers are that those who die apart from the saving grace of Christ will die in their sins and be forever condemned to hell. There are no second chances or do overs. Do we believe this? Tell me, DO WE BELIEVE THIS??? Then how can our churches not be burdened? How can we not be on our faces pleading before God?
Beloved, I don’t care about your theological camp. What I care about is the heart of God. And He tells us as He speaks through His prophet, “Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin…. For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the LORD God; so turn and live” (Ezekiel 18:30, 32).
Churches and pastors, lest we continue in our religious fun and games, and remain focused on building our empires in our own names and for our own glory, God also speaks through His prophet this warning:
So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. ~ Ezekiel 33:7-9
Beloved, our prayers matter. And our hearts matter. And to God our Father, the people all around us matter. The question is, do they truly matter enough to intercede and stand in the breach for them. If not, then let us be clear that our religious activities are nothing but sheer garbage.