Intercession is defined in the dictionary as:
- an act or instance of interceding
- an interposing or pleading on behalf of another person
- a prayer to God on behalf of another
The biblical use of the term intercession agrees well with this. The elements of intercession are a person (or persons) in need, a person to whom an appeal is made for addressing the need, and the need that separates the two.
Here are some uses of the term intercession (or one of its forms) in Scripture.
He said to them, “If you are willing to let me bury my dead, then listen to me and intercede with Ephron son of Zohar on my behalf.” (Gen. 23:8)
Then Samuel said, “Assemble all Israel at Mizpah, and I will intercede with the Lord for you.” (1 Sam. 7:5)
Then the king said to the man of God, “Intercede with the Lord your God and pray for me that my hand may be restored.” So the man of God interceded with the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored and became as it was before. (1 Kings 13:6)
Therefore I will give Him a portion among the great, and He will divide the spoils with the strong, because He poured out His life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isa. 53:12)
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. (Rom. 8:26)
And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. (Rom. 8:27)
Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died ‒ more than that, who was raised to life ‒ is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. (Rom. 8:34)
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people. (1 Tim. 2:1)
Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them. (Heb. 7:25)
The Hebrew word translated “intercede” is either palel (to pray, supplicate) or paga (to meet, encounter, come between, intercede).
The Greek word for “intercede” is most often a form of entugchano, meaning to meet, encounter, make suit. With the prefix, the Greek huperentugchano, combines “for the benefit of” to the root. Interestingly, this root word has the additional sense of “to obtain by hitting the mark.” This makes it the antonym of hamartia, the Greek word for sin – “to miss the mark.”
A believer who is consistent in prayer is doubtless already functioning in intercession. Intercession is entering into God’s heart for a person or people. This is called having a “burden.” Out of this burden, the believer cries out to God with passion and perseverance. This deep cry that connects with the heart of God is part of the birthing of God’s purpose and the release of God’s power.
Chapter 22 of Ezekiel gives us an interesting insight. In considering the moral condition of the southern kingdom of Judah, the Bible uses the language of a courtroom. God is perfect in all His ways, including the meting out of judgments to the rebellious. Here, He gives a detailed indictment of the sin that fully justifies a guilty verdict and the ensuing judgment. But before He pronounces the well-deserved judgment, He pauses and invites the defense to intervene:
I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before Me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one. (Ezek. 22:30)
The people of God were silent! There was no call for mercy. No person stood between the God and His wayward people. But we don’t have to be silent in our generation in the face of a world deserving of judgment. We don’t have to be silent while our leaders are under attack. We can step up before God in intercession in a way that does not contradict the holiness and justice of God. How? By the power and effective intercession of Jesus Christ, the great intercessor.