In his book, Thank God It’s Monday, Rick Heeren recounts the following story of his experience with intercession in marketplace transformation:
Another friend, who is a marketplace Christian, imports products from Korea and sells them through large operations like Wal-Mart and Home Depot. A few years ago, my friend was having difficulty generating sales volume. He asked me if I would pray for this “felt-need.” My wife Rachel and I went over to his home and prayed for him and his wife. After a few minutes of prayer I received a word of knowledge, the word “receivables.” I stopped the prayer and asked my friend about his receivables situation. He said, “Receivables management is not a problem in our company. We monitor our receivables closely and people pay their bills on a timely basis.” Then he paused, and looked very thoughtful. Then he continued, “Well, there is a guy in another state who is way overdue in paying his bill. I have sent him threatening notes, but he has not responded.”
I said, “Perhaps the Lord wants you to send this guy a note telling him that you can imagine that his problems must be very great if they keep him from paying your bill. Perhaps the Lord wants you to forgive the amount he owes you.” My friend responded immediately, “I can’t run a business that way. I will never make any money if word gets around that I forgave this receivable.” I responded, “Why don’t you pray about it and we’ll talk later.” My wife and I left his office and returned home. A few hours later my friend called me and said, “I sent him the letter. I told him that I was writing off his receivable. I blessed him and told him that I was praying that his business problems would get solved.” The next day my friend called me on the phone and told me that he had just been awarded the largest contract in the history of his company. I asked him if he thought that there was any connection between his obedience to that word that the Lord had given us and the receipt of this new piece of business. He agreed that the Lord had blessed him for his obedience.
- Rick Heeren, Thank God It’s Monday, 2004, Transformational Publications, San Jose, CA
Introduction to Intercession in Marketplace Transformation
(much adapted from Dutch Sheets, Intercessory Prayer)
Okay, now that your appetite is whetted for intercession, we want to tell you what it is and why you need it. Then we'll look more deeply at the Biblical basis for intercession and what it looks like in a business.
Intercession is a big word, what does it mean and why do we need it? Mostly we think of praying; or some of us go further and picture these really holy types who do nothing but pray and spend time in God's presence.
The truth is that God works through the prayers of His people. He chooses to act through man. He's the sovereign One, but He's set things up here on earth so that He limits Himself to man's will and word and chooses not to act independently most of the time. For example God could save everyone, but He waits for us to ask. He could fill everyone with His Holy Spirit and keep us full, but He waits for us to ask and then tells us to keep full. He works in partnership with man.
The Bible also tells us that Jesus is our intercessor, that He is right now in heaven, interceding for us.
Romans 8:34b says “Christ is the one who died [and more than that, he was raised], who is at the right hand of God, and who also is interceding for us.” (Parenthetical comment is ours).
Jesus prays for us as our High Priest. Hebrews 7:24-25 reads “. . . but he holds his priesthood permanently since he lives forever. So he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”
The Holy Spirit also prays for us according to Romans 8:27: And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes on behalf of the saints according to God’s will.
Though Jesus and the Holy Spirit are interceding for us, we too are encouraged to intercede for others and given many examples to follow which are in your handouts: 1 Timothy 2:1 exhorts us: First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people....
Here are some other instances that highlight intercessions in the Bible:
1 Kings 18:1, 40-45, James 5:17-18 It was God's will that it rain, but Elijah still had to ask.
Daniel 9:3 Daniel understood the timing of God releasing Israel from captivity, but still had to ask.
Numbers 14:11-12 God's answer when Moses prayed was, "I have pardoned them according to your word."
Ezekiel 22:30-31 And what happens when no one stands in the gap? - nothing!
"All intercession is prayer, but not all prayer is intercession." [Prayer Shield, C. Peter Wagner] A simple definition of intercession is asking God for something on someone else's behalf.
The Need for Intercession in Marketplace Transformation
Why do you, as leaders of your organization need intercession? C. Peter Wagner suggests the following five reasons for pastors needing intercession. We have expanded those to leadership in general. (Prayer Shield, C. Peter Wagner, Regal Books, 1992)
As leaders, you have more responsibility and with that, more accountability. Accepting a position of leadership in the Christian world is running a risk. The Bible makes it clear that there is a higher standard for leaders. There is an increased risk not only of a sinning against your fellow man, but also a violation of the "office" held. If Jesus needed prayer all through his ministry, especially the closer He got to His goal, how much more do we?
As leaders, you are more subject to temptation. The higher you go up on the ladder of Christian leadership, the higher you go up on Satan's hit list. Leaders have more exposure to temptation in every realm of this world and the spiritual world--finances, sex, greed, power, pride, demonization, spells, curses etc.. Satan also uses the flesh to tempt through, pornography, alcohol, drugs, gluttony, etc.
As leaders, you are more targeted by spiritual warfare. Why go for the soldier when you can take out the general?
As leaders, you have more influence on others. The enemy targets those with influence. If he takes you down, many others are affected. The ripple effect is devastating.
As leaders, you have more visibility. And doesn't the enemy just love to expose the vulnerabilities of those in the spotlight? Take, for instance, ministers with large audiences or congregations, politicians or movie stars, doesn't Satan take delight in tearing down their reputations and exposing their weaknesses?
Yes, leaders greatly need intercession. Already hearing whispers that you're not really a leader? If you're head of your company, you're a leader. Don't believe the lies of the enemy.
Battling thoughts that this need for intercession doesn't really apply to you? Cast them off. If Satan can stop you he will. It leaves you with much less covering for future attacks.
A Meeting with God
Ok, now that you know the basics of intercession, let's look at it more deeply. God's plan is to use us. He's not just going to swoop in and do everything Himself. We are plan A; there is no plan B. From the very beginning, man was created to govern, manage and steward the earth as God's representatives. God is the owner; we are the stewards. God's plan in intercession is to work with us and through us, not independently of us. He finds a person to ask for Him or of Him, which involves Him in specific situations and lives.
In intercession, we ask on behalf of someone else, not ourselves. We represent them before God. In Latin, the word represent is actually re-present, to present again. We re-present the needs of another to God. We stand in the gap for someone or something else: Ezekiel 22:30 “I looked for a man 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 none.”
Although the word has come to mean prayer in our minds, in Hebrew the word for intercession, paga, doesn't necessarily mean prayer at all. Paga has many meanings according to Strong's Concordance: H 6293 to impinge, by accident or violence, or (fig) by importunity;--come (between), cause to entreat, fall (upon), make intercession (stand in the gap for), light (upon), meet (together), pray. Each one teaches us another aspect of intercession and each shade of meaning can be done by prayer.
Two key concepts will help you understand intercession or paga in the marketplace: the concepts of 1) meeting, and 2) boundary.
The first we've already introduced: meeting. We as intercessors meet with God asking Him to meet with the person or company we represent. A further aspect of this is actually re-presenting the needs of the person or company to God through the atonement of Christ. It works kind of like this: in Isaiah 53:6 our “sins and weaknesses” were laid upon the Lord. "Laid upon" is translated from paga for intercession "to take the place of another." Acting on behalf of others, we make requests for them. Just as Old Testament priests made intercession for Israel, we re-present the needs of others to the Father through the sacrifice of Jesus. Actually, this is dual representation because we re-present the needs to God through the atonement of Christ and the finished work of Christ that Jesus has already done on that person's behalf.
Christ's intercession on the cross wasn't a prayer, but a work He completed on our behalf. Now He is functioning as our representative, guaranteeing our access to the Father and our benefits of redemption. He goes between, no longer to redeem, which is done, but to present us as righteous and one of His own to God. He goes before us to represent us to God and to stand between us and Satan. Our intercession is always an extension of His completed work on the cross. He is our intercessor now, even as we represent Him in our intercession for others.
Our intercession creates paga, a meeting between God and the powers of darkness. The intercessor is the go between. Paga is a battlefield term. Intercession is not presented as a simple, easy thing. No, it's a battle to take back and keep what is ours in Jesus Christ. Paga contains warfare, the idea of violence. To be like Christ is costly. Intercession has a price. Intercessors build protective boundaries, perimeters of protection, boundaries through prayer. They build up the wall. God's love is unconditional, but his favor and blessing are conditional.
A meeting with God, paga, changes everything. Prayer meetings create God meetings. What would this look like if you were having a paga meeting with a new client? First of all, it's not just you meeting with a client. It's three of you; it's you bringing God into the meeting. Therefore you are not limited to your own agenda, but you are inviting the mighty God of the Universe to have His way, His agenda and His plans and purposes. You are not limited to your own understanding, but you have the supernatural resources of God at work in you by your invitation to give you His understanding and insight. Please note that this doesn't mean you're praying in the meeting or talking about God. It means you have positioned yourself as a partner with God inviting Him to have His way either before the meeting in prayer and/or by the prayers of your intercessor before or during the meeting, even if that intercessor is not present in the room.
We represent God. A representative is a sent one. John 20:21 [Jesus said] “As the Father sent me, so I also send you.” Our authority comes from Him as we represent Him. The ability to carry out and enforce instructions is the responsibility of the sender, not the sent one. If we really believe we are functioning as an ambassador or sent one for God, then our authority and ability isn't an issue, but Christ's is and that's already settled. The emphasis is on Him who sends me. We hear from Him, speak for Him, release what He's done, release the work He did, distribute what He's already produced and enforce His victory. He is the head, we are the body. He's the victor, we're the enforcer. He redeems, we release. He generates, we distribute.
Whether for a person, a business or a nation, when we are used to create a meeting between God and people, we release the fruit, the benefits of Christ's work on the cross, and paga or intercession has happened. The spiritual climate has been changed. Tetelestai, Jesus' word on the cross, "It is finished,” paid in full, is the reason the victory is ours when we intercede. Tetelestai means to fully accomplish something or bring it to a completed state. The legal penalty and debt for our sin and disobedience was paid on the cross. Now it's our legal right to be free of Satan's dominance and oppression. So, we bring God into our meetings and grasp for ourselves, our clients, and the situation the benefits of Jesus' finished work on the cross and bring them into the present reality.
The second key concept to understanding paga intercession in the marketplace comes from the Hebrew meaning of paga as boundary or border. Consistent with the definition to meet, it is the point at which two territories meet or connect. Paga is the establishing of boundaries or walls of protection and the marking of a territory as one's own, declaring: "I will not permit intruders or interlopers."
1 John 3:8 states Jesus came to destroy [or in Greek luo] the works of the devil. The word luo or destroy has both a legal and a physical meaning. Luo means to dissolve, melt, break, or untie, also to pronounce someone no longer bound, and to dissolve or void a contract that legally binds.
Jesus "luo-ed." We are also to luo. Matthew 16:19 says that what we luo or destroy on earth is luo-ed or destroyed in heaven. So the question is, did Christ luo the works of the devil once and for all or do we? Back to that partnership we started the teaching with, God chooses to work through man. On the cross Jesus fully accomplished the task of breaking Satan's authority and voiding his legal hold on humans. Now someone on earth must represent Him in that victory and enforce it. The intercessor will either create a meeting with God to meet with Satan and enforce Christ's victory or to meet with God for His purposes of reconciliation to release His blessings.
To apply this concept to your company or organization in the area where worldly finances meet kingdom finances, it might look like this:
Lord, we bring this company before you in the name of Jesus. By Christ's finished work on the cross we break every hold Satan has established over the finances of this company in Jesus' name. We command those finances to be loosed completely and a positive cash flow to be released now in Jesus' name. We break off any previous practices in our finances that have not honored you Lord. We release Your priorities, Your timing, Your resources into our company and give You all the honor and glory of re-establishing our credibility and reputation in this area.
This moves us, then, into the benefits of intercession...
Benefits of Intercession in Marketplace Transformation
Scriptural protection occurs as intercessors learn to become sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, which alerts them to pray for others in critical times of need. This call from the HS can come through as a sense of foreboding or uneasiness concerning a certain individual, as well as simply by hearing the voice of the HS telling us to pray for someone.
We want to learn proactive intercession as opposed to reactionary intercession against the schemes of Satan. We don't want to just wait for attacks and then react. We want to do "watchman" prayer.
Isaiah 62:6 On your walls O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; all day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves.
Ephesians 6:18 and 1 Peter 5:8 both read," be on the alert.” Both verses are in the context of spiritual warfare. Each mentions the adversary and cautions watchfulness and alertness. Through intercession, God is offering more than just reactionary prayer and damage control. He actually wants to alert us in advance so we can build those protective walls and boundaries of protection. This is watchman intercession. The Old Testament Hebrew for watchman means protection through attentive watching. The Greek word watchman has a literal meaning of sleeplessness and being awake.
Another use of the word for watchman is pay attention or listen. We must be listeners. The voice of the Lord comes in many ways--premonitions, thoughts that originate with God, others sharing verses or God-inspired thoughts with us, and the still small voice of the Lord. The voice comes if we're listening.
Intercession is born out of fellowship with the Holy Spirit. As we spend time listening, we mature in our hearing and grow more sensitive to His promptings.
Three other Old Testament words for watchman are bodyguard, guard and protector. A further meaning is doorkeeper or gatekeeper. Watchmen determine through prayer what comes into their lives, homes, churches and cities. They refuse to allow the serpent and his emissaries entrance. Luke 10:19 tells us we can tread on serpents and scorpions. Let's keep them out of our gardens.
2 Corinthians 2:11 says we are not to be ignorant of Satan's schemes. Ignorant is without knowledge or understanding. Schemes are thoughts, plans, plots, devices. If we are unaware of Satan and his ways, then he can take advantage of us in our homes, marriages, families, communities, money, government, nation, reputation and more.
This is not to imply that every negative thing that happens is directly due to Satanic activity. Sometimes our carelessness, that of others, the curse of sin on our fallen world, and a variety of other causes result in destructive events, accidents, and disease. Watchman intercession, however, can protect from all kinds of adversity.
Four conclusions from Eph. 6:18, 1 Peter 5:8 and 2 Corinthians 2:11 above:
Protection from attacks of Satan even for believers is not automatic – so intercession is necessary to create that protective boundary.
God's plan is to warn and alert us of Satan's tactics – so we must listen to the Holy Spirit in intercession to be forewarned and know what we are up against and to avert disaster.
We must be alert and remain watchful or we won't be aware of God's attempts to warn us of Satan's attacks and plans. Isaiah 56:10 speaks of blind watchmen – so a plan to set aside time and reinforce going to God watching and listening is essential.
If we are not alert and watchful and remain ignorant, Satan will take the advantage and we will lose territory to him. So intercession keeps and guards, even takes back what is ours in Christ. It is not God's intention that Satan win. God wants to alert us. To ignore Satan is to abdicate territory. Remember, we are not trying to defeat Satan; he's already defeated. We enforce victory. Satan still has the powers and abilities he's always had (fiery darts, prowling, roaring, teeth, etc.). What he lost was his power over those who make Jesus Lord.
The proclamation of the Word over our lives is the highest and most effective level of intercession. As leaders, we want to align our speech with the word of God and His will and way in all situations. The Hebrew word asah which is used to mean create in Genesis appears in the following scripture in the context of speaking God's word:
Isaiah 55:11 “So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty without accomplishing [asah-ing] what I desire and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” (Parenthetical comment is ours).
God's word does. God's word accomplishes. God's word performs. We must find out what Scripture teaches us about our situations and make our Biblical confessions and declarations accordingly. The leader needs to speak the performing word of God over his situations in agreement with the prayers of his intercessors. Here are some examples of what we mean.
- Luke 10:19, 1 John 4:4 I declare that God has given me authority over all the spirits in this situation. The Holy Spirit in me is greater than any power they can muster.
- 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 I declare that my weapons are fully able to disarm this situation. In Jesus' name I tear down the strongholds of the powers of darkness at work in this situation.
- James 4:7 I declare that I am fully submitted to God and know that as I speak God's word the evil forces must flee. I command you demonic powers to leave this situation in Jesus' name. I free these individuals from all of your influence.
- Romans 12:8, Ephesians 6:2-4 I declare that it is God's will that this family be at peace with one another. I speak these verses as a sword of the spirit into this situation to bring peace.
Strategies of intercession might also include works as well as prayer: things like praise, love and acts of kindness, and giving, as well as forgiving, prayers of agreement to break the back of the enemy, speaking the Word as a sword, declaring or decreeing Word truths into the spiritual realm, (done at the direction of God that prepares the way in the Spirit realm, resulting in changes in the natural realm), intense intercession in various languages, tears, travail, etc.. We boldly release the power of the Most High into everyday situations. He has given us His Word, His name, His glory, His sword.
We need to understand the power available to us. God hasn't asked us to represent Him on earth without giving us the means to do it well. Job 36:32 reads "He covers His hands with the lightning, and commands it to strike its mark” (emphasis is ours, translated from paga). Our prayers release thunder, lightning and earthquakes (see the New Testament examples of prison breaking open and room shaking). That's power! Determined intercession releases God's miraculous power. Reverence, God's power and great harvest were the results of intercession in Acts 2. Using the same methods today will produce the same results that the early church experienced. Hebrews 13:8 God is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Yes, one word from God routs Satan and every demon, but God's plan is to work in partnership and use us. Sometimes different amounts of God's power are needed to accomplish certain things. There may be times it requires the prayer of the many or more prayer of the one. There may be instances in which it is a time issue as when Daniel had to wait 21 days when the angel was delayed in coming because of warfare. You will walk in victory not through vain repetition or always doing the same thing, but through intercessors cooperating with the Holy Spirit until breakthrough comes.
One last thing before we get super practical: how do you as a business owner or management interact and relate with your intercessors? The same way as Kings related to Priests in the Old Testament. The Priests had ready access to the kings. They served as conscience pointing out sin and they also taught the law to the people. More specifically, they inquired of God, maintained the temple, officiated in daily sacrifices to keep the kings free of sin, stood between God and Kings, the people and Kings, and were guardians of the Word.
Intercessors do the same for the people or company they pray for. They inquire of God to serve and bring about the Kings or God's purposes. They present the Word of God and keep the temple free of sin. They also build up the walls of protection, dismantle strongholds, call in the promises of God, declare God's truths over the company, look to see how God is working and pray in His strategies, and build and maintain the intercessory team.
Go now to the Intercession Application in the Resources Tab to the right and begin building, equipping and using the powerful tool of intercession in marketplace transformation.