Several years ago, the Lord challenged me to step up my level of intercession. He used, of all things, an ongoing issue I had with chronic, debilitating migraines that would often force me to cancel plans and miss highly anticipated or significant events.
On one occasion, I had to cancel a Christmas party I was planning to host due to the onset of a headache. Additionally frustrating was the fact that my Thanksgiving plans had been ruined only weeks before.
After recovering from the Christmas episode, I pleaded with the Lord to speak to me. It seemed I had done everything I knew how to do—prayed every prayer, broken every curse (it had been established these headaches were generational in origin), and welcomed every possible opportunity for ministry. Not only did the headaches continue, they seemed to be getting worse.
That night, I had a dream in which the Lord showed me a visual representation of some other generational issues (like the headaches) that I still struggled with at the time.
The dream was set in the basement of my childhood home and showed certain family members demonically manifesting. I understood that the name of Jesus had power to break these manifestations, so I repeated the name of Jesus over and over. At the same time, I flicked a light switch on the wall on and off, on and off. The light failed to come on, but somehow I knew the key was the power of Jesus’ name.
As I woke up, I was still flipping the light switch on and off in my dream. And then I heard the Lord say, “The key is to press in for your city and your nation.”
That certainly got my attention. By then fully awake but puzzled, I asked the Lord, “What was that again?” I lay there pondering the dream and what seemed an obvious reference to my earlier prayers asking the Lord to free me from lingering generational sin.
Quietly, I heard the Lord speak again. He said, “As you press in for your city and your nation, I will forgive your sins.” And then I had a vision.
I saw the throne room of God and Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Father. A voice said, “Consider the high price that was paid, that Someone might live to intercede for you day and night from the throne” (see Rom. 8:34).
My intercessory prayer life has never been the same since that experience. God challenged me to look beyond my own struggle in order to pray for others. And, although it took some time, I finally gained freedom from the migraine headaches that were behind my original petitions to God.
As I write this, it is late winter in northwestern Montana. When I finish, I plan to take a hike with my dogs as I often do. Sometimes simply putting on all the cold weather and snow gear necessary seems daunting, but I’m always extremely glad I made the effort to do it.
The exercise is beneficial, of course, but it’s more than that. I usually see wildlife—maybe an elk herd, eagles, a wolf or a coyote. More importantly, once I arrive on a ridge top, my own affairs and problems seem so much smaller; the lofty views clear my mind and enlarge my perspective. One ridge gives an expansive view of my city and neighboring valleys, which often inspires my prayers.
In a similar way, shifting our focus from ourselves to pray for others may seem daunting at first, but as we are taken outside ourselves, our efforts are rewarded with increased strength and perspective. Colossians 3:2 tells us to “set our minds on things above, not on things of the earth.” Intercession is a way to take our minds higher. It allows us to “see” further and pray from an expanded point of view.
I learned that God would take care of my needs as I took more time to pray for others. Could Jesus be calling you higher? Perhaps the Lord is asking you to broaden your focus by spending more time interceding for your city, your state, and your nation—even other nations. As you make the effort, I am confident you will be rewarded, in ways you cannot even imagine!
Scriptural Concepts to Consider
- The Lord treasures the prayers of His people; your intercessory prayers are heard. (Rev. 5:8, 8:3)
- Jesus is our example for intercession. (Isa. 53:12; Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25, 9:24)
- The Lord looks for intercessors. (Isa. 59:16; Ezek. 22:30)
- 2 Chronicles 7:14 shows the beauty of what intercession can do.
- Your prayers will be rewarded. (Matt. 6:6)