Day 10 – Spirit of Intercession
Effective Prayer Podcast, by Colin Dye
I want to tell you again: the Spirit likewise prays. Creation is groaning; we are groaning, the Spirit is groaning, all for the same thing: God’s kingdom to come. And when the Spirit groans within you, what does it say? “He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” We see that in Romans 8:27.
How does He do it? “Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is.” Who searches the hearts? Jesus. He knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because the Spirit makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. How do you do it? Verse 26 told us that the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered.
Some people think this is the gift of tongues, and they may be right. I personally don’t think this is the gift of tongues, because even tongues can be uttered. But the groanings that come here cannot be uttered. They cannot be expressed, not even in the spiritual language like tongues. It is just a deep groaning on the inside of you, which is the very depth of travail and intercession, and when the Holy Spirit takes hold of you like that, you are pouring out your heart to God and you don’t know, you’re not even expressing it verbally. You might actually let out a physical groan, but it is something that is happening deep on the inside of you as the Spirit is interceding for you and for the situation so that the kingdom of God would come and the new creation reality would be experienced in the physical world as the Spirit brings to birth some promise in your life.
We have been groaning and travailing for years in the Spirit for Europe, for Britain, for revival—Oh my God, and it is happening. It’s happening as the Spirit prays through us and enables us to pray.
But in a normal process—that is a very intense work of the Spirit—normally speaking, the Holy Spirit provides us with the theme and the thoughts and we then cooperate with Him and pray accordingly. So now we’ve seen it, back in Romans 8, still in verse 26 and 27, that the Holy Spirit helps us to pray, but He also prays for us, on our behalf. This means that we have a divine intercessor, a resident within us, who teaches us both to pray and also prays for us from alongside us.
Now the word there, where it says the Holy Spirit makes intercession, is the word in the Greek, entugchano. Entugchano. And that means “intercession,” but it describes the way that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. It is exactly the same word that is used for Jesus as the heavenly intercessor. But it is a fairly rare word. But the truth is that the Spirit prays in exactly the same way that Jesus prays. Jesus and the Spirit do the same work for the same group of people.
Now entugchano does not mean that either the Spirit or the Son of God have to beg the reluctant Father to give what He doesn’t want to give. It doesn’t mean that. Literally, entugchano means “to fall in with.” Think about that definition. “To fall in with, to fall in line with, or to be around, keep company with.”
In heaven, Jesus keeps company with the Father on our behalf. He falls in line with the Father. There is perfect harmony as Jesus lives as the living expression of the Father’s will, and the proof of this is that He’s in the presence of God, accepted by the Father, speaking up for us. He is in with God. He is in with God the Father. He falls perfectly in line with the Father and with the Father’s will, and so whatever we need, whenever we need it, He is in the right place at the right time, all the time to intercede for us, to put a word in for us whenever we need that.
And it’s exactly the same with the Spirit. Whenever we struggle on earth, whenever we are in difficulty, the Spirit is around us. He falls in line with us; or rather, He’s around us falling in line with the Father’s will for us. When we agonize in prayer, He is there to speak up for us. We never have to approach God on our own. The Spirit comes to act as our advocate, to express our needs perfectly and ensure that the Father always hears our deepest requests.
So my friend, He comes to help us to pray, He prays for us, but also in prayer He speaks to us. Look at John 14:26, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”
So the Holy Spirit comes to teach us and to speak to us and to remind us of the things that Jesus taught. This promise was initially for the apostles and the disciples of Jesus’ day, but it still applies for us. The Holy Spirit is our teacher, too. He reminds us of the things that Jesus has taught us, and in John 16:13 it states, Jesus says, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” So the Holy Spirit will lead us into the truth and will bring us into future revelation or revelation about the future.
And so through these verses Jesus makes it absolutely clear that he Holy Spirit will speak to you and communicate to you when you pray. Prayer is a two-way communication. That is exactly what happened to the Old Testament prophets when they came. A word of the Lord came to them and the Spirit spoke to them. “And the word of the Lord came to” or “God said,” “the Spirit said,” these kinds of phrases are used most frequently than any other phrase in the Old Testament. Time and time again we read it.
Jeremiah 1:11, “Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘Jeremiah, what do you see?’ And I said, ‘I see a branch of an almond tree.’” Jeremiah 18:1, “The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying: ‘Arise and go down to the potter’s house.’”
Amos 3:8, “A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken! Who can but prophesy?”
And so forth, throughout the whole Old Testament we find time and time again that hearing God’s Word was a very integral part of intercession for the prophets. In other words, as they prayed, they heard the Word of the Lord, and as we pray, we are going to hear the Word of the Lord.
The Spirit of God is going to speak to us through our circumstances—God closes one door and opens another, we are told. We need to be sensitive to our circumstances. The Holy Spirit will speak to us as we pray. We will begin to see a pattern beginning to emerge in our circumstances. I don’t believe, I must say however, that circumstances have the final say. I don’t believe in circumstantial guidance—certainly not on its own. I have never found my circumstances to be favorable when God told me to do something, and if I waited for the circumstances to line up with what God said, I would never do anything.
But sometimes you need to take the Word that God has given you which flies in the face of your circumstances and say, “Lord, You told me to go and the door is closed, but I’m going to kick it down in Jesus’ name.” If God has told you to go to China, if the doors are open, if there is a seat on the airplane, if you have to swim to China, you will go. You don’t wait for the circumstances.
But on the other hand, the Holy Spirit will speak to you through circumstances. You have to have the wisdom of the Spirit to say, “Lord, is this closed door a test of my faith? Do I have to smash it down? Or is it that you are saying, ‘not yet’ I have to wait? Help me.” He will speak to you.
The Holy Spirit will speak to you through other Christians. You must allow your own inner convictions to be tested by other Christians, especially those in leadership responsibility. And if your thoughts really have come from God, then you will be prepared to do that. This is one of the great tests when people have said, “God has told me.” you know most often when people say “God has told me,” God hasn’t said a word. And you just watch them and you find that if God had told them, He’s changed His mind today because He’s told them something else. All they are doing is just feeding their own selfishness out of their own minds.
And one of the great tests—and I’ll let you in on a secret—as a leader, one of the great tests that I have found works is that if people are willing to submit that word to scrutiny, to say, “This is what I believe God is saying to me. Help me pray it through. What do you think?” and share that with other believing Christians, then you know that it is more likely to be the Spirit of Christ, because the Spirit of Christ is a humble Spirit, and He has set in the Scriptures by which we are to follow according to submission and accountability.
But the moment somebody says, “This is what God said and that’s it,” you think to yourself there’s an arrogance there, especially when they start prophesying as to which direction the church should go. If we listened to them, the church would be here, there, and everywhere and end up nowhere. So we have to be ready to submit what we believe God is saying to us, with all sincerity, to others who will confirm, along with others, what the Spirit is leading.
Of course, the Holy Spirit will speak to you through God’s Word. As you read it, the Holy Spirit will prompt you to a passage, or as you are reading it through in your daily Bible reading, something will leap out as the sword of the Spirit, the rhema Word of God. Ephesians 6:17 says it is as we learn to fill ourselves with the Word of God that the Holy Spirit can take the sword of the spirit out of the belt of truth and be that revelation word for us in any situation.
Also, in Colossians 3:16 it says that we should…let me read it for you, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord,” showing you that as the Word of Christ dwells in you richly, it produces in you wisdom, and out of that reserve of knowledge and wisdom, out of that deep minefield within you, the Holy Spirit can speak to you and open your mind and understanding for something wider than your own thinking.
The Holy Spirit will speak to you when we are praying. We must learn to recognize the way the Holy Spirit speaks. He slips His own little thoughts or directed thoughts into our minds if we are ready to act upon them. That is why I think it is right when we are praying to have a pad next to you what you feel the Holy Spirit is saying, keep a diary, keep a record of that and the Holy Spirit will help you in this way.
So the Holy Spirit helps us through prayer. The Holy Spirit prays for us. The Holy Spirit speaks to us, and the Holy Spirit speaks for us when He gives to us a new language, a prayer language. I want to finish this session by talking to you about this new prayer language briefly, and then we will be able to pick it up in another session, because we are going to do a whole session on the gift of tongues.
Now in 1 Corinthians 12:10 we find that the Holy Spirit gives us the gift of tongues, “to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.” Now we’re going to look at this, as I say, later on, but I want you to appreciate that the primary purpose of tongues is to pray to God—is to pray to God. Tongues is a prayer language. You may call it your spiritual language, or a heavenly language, because it comes from heaven. It is God’s doing. We’ve got to grasp this, because many people are confused today as to the purpose of the gift of tongues.
The gift of tongues is a prayer language for you; it’s to help you pray. And the reason God gives it to us is that when we pray in tongues, we pray at a different level from our normal conscious understanding. It comes from deeper within our personality. First Corinthians 14:14 suggests that when we pray we do not use our minds in quite the same way as when we pray in other ways, “For if I pray in a tongue, my Spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.” In other words, the words that are spoken do not come directly from our conscious human understanding. They are, rather, the product of the operation of the Spirit of God through us.
My spirit prays; your spirit is praying. This comes from deep within your Spirit. Now some people are uncomfortable with this idea of something coming from deep within you that is outside of your conscious mind; they think this is very weird, it sounds very mystical, but when we pray in tongues, it does seem that this is coming from somewhere far deeper than our natural minds, our natural understanding. It seems to be coming deep from within us as the Holy Spirit produces this and gifts us in this way.
Now because the gift of tongues is there for prayer, I want to suggest to you that it can be used in all kinds of prayer. Just as we pray in our own language, so we can pray in tongues. Do you give thanks in your own language? Tongues can be thanksgiving as well. Do you confess in your own language? You can confess in tongues as well. Do you bring petitions in your own language? So you can do it in tongues. You can adore in tongues; you can make supplication or intercession, spiritual warfare, praise—all of this, it seems to me, because if tongues is a prayer language, everything that you can do in prayer you can do in tongues, and probably, because it’s a spiritual prayer language, a whole lot more besides. So that shows you how important tongues is—how important tongues are when it comes to praying and seeking God.
When summarizing this, I found about six areas where praying in tongues is especially helpful. First of all, in worship. Praying in tongues expresses, helps us express our love for Jesus because it comes from something deeper than our own natural understanding. You might be the greatest poet on the earth; you might be a real wordsmith, you can just really forge and fashion words so beautifully, but the Holy Spirit does it better. And you’re going to run out of your own words; you’re going to run out of what to say, and at that time you are just so full of awe you don’t know or have any words you can say, and so you just go in tongues.
“I love you,” is a meaningful way of worshiping God. Tongues can help you express your love for God when you cannot put your feelings into words. Worship.
Number #2, intercession. The gift of tongues is useful, as we already implied, when you don’t know how to pray. Often you are asked or prompted to pray for people and you’ve no idea what to pray, so you can begin by praying in tongues. And as you have that prayer burden to pray for the person, begin to pray in tongues and you know that the Spirit is interceding through you according to the mind of God, and as you learn to do that, you will find at times that when you move from tongues into your own language—whether it is English or whatever it is—and you move from tongues to your own language, you will be praying something that you might not have thought about praying before.
When this happens, you can explain it one of two ways. Either you were praying in tongues, seeking God for the revelation you needed in order to pray, and God answered that prayer and you got the revelation, you suddenly realized, “Oh, I know how to pray for that person. Wow, I didn’t realize that. as I was praying for that person in tongues I felt something. I sensed that they were going through some difficulty, there was some urgency, some problem in their life to do with their family, their marriage, or their children,” or whatever it is, and you begin to pray.
Anther thing that may be happening is that God gives you the prayer to pray for that person in tongues, and so you are praying in tongues, and then when you go to your own language, it is God giving you the interpretation, and so you can pray in that way, knowing through your own understanding as well as praying with your spirit that God is hearing your prayer.
Another use of tongues, in my experience, is breakthrough. The gift of tongues is especially helpful in warfare prayer or any time when you believe that there is a strong need for a breakthrough. Sometimes if the reply is slow in coming or if you feel low on faith, you can pray with the Spirit because the Spirit’s faith is never low, and the Holy Spirit is much more in tune with God than our spirits and much more in tune with the Father’s will than we are, and the Holy Spirit can therefore work in seemingly impossible situations where the opposition seems so great or circumstances seem so grim, and when we pray in our own language it does not seem to have the same authority and power, and at times like that, when praying in tongues we are trusting God and we know that He won’t let us down, those are powerful prayers, full of the Spirit’s faith, full of the faith of God, full of the Spirit’s confidence that God would answer and the difficulty would be dealt with and the enemy will be overcome and the obstacles, the mountain will be removed.
Then we can pray, number #4, through lamentation, as we lament. Many of us have a problem lamenting to God, but how can we ignore the earthquakes, the plane crashes, the terrorist bombs, the disease and pestilences upon the earth or the problems of modern society? How can we ignore that? You can come before the Lord and just pour out a lament in tongues and it can express the horrors of sin and all the difficulties in a very, very real way.
Number #5, thanksgiving. You know, our own natural language, sometimes seems so inadequate when we say, “Thank you.” It will just hardly seem enough, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. No, really, really, thank you.” What more can you say? You have to show it in some way, of course, but when you pray in tongues, the Holy Spirit will give you 1,000 ways of saying “Thank you.” Thanksgiving and gratitude is very important.
Number #6 I believe is a powerful operation of the gift of tongues: to bring you to preparation. First Corinthians 14:4 shows that tongues build you up, “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself. You edify yourself through tongues so that when you are praying with tongues it builds you up, it strengthens your Spirit. And the experience of regular, frequent, consistent praying in tongues is an experience of strength and growth. It is a part of transforming you from being an ineffective witness for Christ to being a strong witness for Jesus.
Now maybe prayer, praying in tongues, is a bit like working out. I don’t know if you like to work out or do physical exercises to keep yourself in shape and to keep your body alert and ready to be a good temple of the Holy Spirit, but maybe it’s the…speaking in tongues is the spiritual version of doing press-ups, because it strengthens your spirit. When you pray in tongues, you build yourself up. You strengthen yourself. And that is one of the important things you have to learn. The longer you go on into ministry, you will know you are going to have to face so much, people are going to come against you, demonic elements are going to come against you, and you need to be strong.
It’s no good just to say, “Well, I’ve got the anointing of God.” I tell you, my friends, you can say things under the anointing that when the anointing lifts and you are walking around again you think, “My, my, my. I’ve got to stand strong on this word. I’ve got to stand strong against the enemy here,” and of course the enemy is a defeated foe, but we still have to get in the battle and enforce that victory and deal with him, and praying in tongues, therefore, is a very, very significant and important part of that.
And so, to summarize all that we have been saying, we need to learn to pray in the Spirit and with the Spirit, by the Spirit, and from the Spirit. “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,” Jude 1:20. So all of this implies that as we are praying in the Spirit, God is going to help us and strengthen us and empower us and inspire us.
We are going to look later on about the armor of God, but it is important to flag up right now that in Ephesians 6:18, which brings to conclusion all that passage about spiritual warfare, it says, “Praying with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end, with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” So prayer in the Spirit is the battleground. Prayer in the Spirit is where we win the victory. Prayer in the Spirit is where we use all the weapons of our warfare, those spiritual weapons, so that we ourselves can enter the battle and do exploits in the name of Jesus.
In Isaiah 59 it says the Lord was so appalled that there was no one to intercede about the evil that He had personally Himself to intervene. But you notice what first God did. In verses 19 through to 21 [the correct reference is verses 16 through 17], God Himself equipped Himself with His own armor and made sure that He was ready. Verses 17 and onwards, “For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak.” And so as a result of that, He went out fighting and bringing the victory, and that’s exactly what we are called to do: to clothe ourselves with the armor of God and to move forward in perseverance and consistency until we are able to stand in the Spirit victorious over all the forces of the enemy.