Prayer Power: Interceding for Others

Prayer Power: Interceding for Others

Scripture: James 5:16
Date: 07/25/2020  Lesson: 4
'When we pray for others, we become a channel of God’s blessing to them. He pours out the river of the water of life from heaven’s throne through us to them. Satan’s whole host trembles at the sound of earnest intercession.'

Teach Us to Pray - Paper or PDF Download

Teach Us to Pray - Paper or PDF Download
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Jëan Ross: Good morning, friends. Welcome again to "Sabbath School Study Hour," coming here from the Granite Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church and also the Amazing Facts International Ministry. We're actually in the Amazing Facts offices this morning and we'd like to welcome all of those joining us live. I know we have a number of friends across the country and even in other places around the world. You watch every week through social media or the Internet and we'd like to welcome you. Also those who will be viewing this program after the edit and on the various television networks. We're just delighted that you have chosen to come and study the Bible with us this morning.

Now, our quarter we're--this quarter we're focusing on a lesson and the title of the lesson is "Making Friends for God." It's talking about the joy of witnessing and sharing. Today, we're on lesson number four and the lesson is entitled, "Prayer Power: Interceding for Others." Very important lesson. Now, if you don't have a copy of the Sabbath School lesson and you'd like to receive one and follow along with us, we encourage you to contact your local Seventh-day Adventist Church where your membership is and you can ask them for a lesson quarterly. Otherwise, you can visit the Amazing Facts website, just amazingfacts.org. Click on the "study hour" link and you'll be able to download a copy of the lesson and study along with us. So it's lesson number four dealing with prayer and, more specifically, intercessory prayer.

Now we do have a free offer we'd like to tell you about. This is just a great resource that we'd like to make available to anyone who calls and asks. The number to call is 866-788-3966 and you just need to ask for offer number 1, or rather 717. Again, that number is 866-788-3966, ask for offer number 717, we'll be happy to send this to anyone in North America that calls and asks. If you'd like to get a digital download of the book, you want to text the code "SH065" to the number "40544." Again, that code is SH065 to the number 40544. You'll be able to receive a free download of the book, "Teach Us to Pray," and it goes along very well with our study today talking about prayer and intercessory prayer.

Well, before we get to our study, let's begin with prayer. Dear Father, we thank You that we're able to gather together and open up Your Word and study and even though we are separated by distance, we are still united in Your presence. Your Spirit is not limited to a particular place but You can speak to our hearts wherever we might be. So, Father, we ask once again for Your blessing as we open up Your Word and study together in Jesus' name, amen.

Now, our lesson, as we mentioned, is entitled, "Prayer Power: Interceding for Others," and we do have a memory verse and if you'd like to follow along with that memory verse, it's James chapter 5 and verse 16. I'll be reading from the New King James Version. James chapter 5, verse 16 says: "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed." Then it says: "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." There are three things I'd like to highlight in this memory verse. It says, "Pray for one another." So intercessory prayer and praying for one another is a very important biblical truth. Then it promises the fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."

Now, you might think, "Well, I'm not very righteous. How can my prayers do anything?" Remember, the righteousness that produces any result, especially in answered prayer, is the righteousness of Jesus. A righteous man is one who claims Christ's righteousness, one who is surrendered to Christ, and in the name of Jesus we can pray, trusting fervently that as we lift our petition before the Lord, He will hear and answer it according to His will. So, yes, there is power in intercessory prayer. Now, if we look at the example given to us in the Bible, especially of the 1st century church, we find that the new church--the New Testament church members, they felt the need of prayer. Not just any kind of prayer but fervent intercessory prayer. In Acts chapter 4, verse 31, we read: "And when they prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken and they were filled with the Holy Spirit and they spoke the Word of God with boldness."

Notice the three things highlighted here. When they prayed, they were filled and then they spoke. So in order for us to be effective witnesses, we need the Holy Spirit. In order to be filled with the Holy Spirit, we need to seek it through prayer. So you have prayer, the Holy Spirit, and then the sharing of the Word. They spoke the Word, it says, with boldness and you can read on how that God added daily to the church those who were being saved. So intercessory prayer is a very important part of being a Christian. It's very important with reference to our witness.

In Acts, the book of Acts, called "Acts of the Apostles," on page 37, we have the following quotation: "The disciples did not ask for a blessing for themselves merely. They were weighted with the burden of the salvation of souls. They realized that the gospel was to be carried to the world, and they claimed the power that Christ had promised." Now, the command ringing in the minds and the ears of the disciples was that famous Great Commission that Jesus had given to the disciples just before His Ascension. He told them to go to all the world, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that He had commanded them and the promise that He would be with them always even unto the end of the age. So here is just a handful of the disciples there, gathered with Jesus, and they witnessed Christ ascending to heaven. They hear the last words spoken by Jesus. Jesus told them in essence to take the gospel to the world.

Well, how were they, a small band of believers, most of them very poor, how were they to take the gospel to the world? Well, as they gathered together there in the Upper Room, they realized that on their own strength they couldn't do it. They needed a special empowering of the Holy Spirit. And as they gathered together, burdened with that desire to take the gospel to others, that's when the Holy Spirit came upon them as the result of prayer, and we read in the Bible that in one generation they pretty much turned the world upside down. The gospel was, indeed, preached out to the furthest reaches of the known world at that time.

Now, if we take that illustration and we apply it to where we are today, do we as God's people living in the last days, do we have a special work just as the disciples had a special work, a message that has to be taken to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people? And the answer to that is, of course, yes. Where do we find that message? Well, you'll find it in Revelation chapter 14 and if you have your Bibles, you can turn to that. I'd like to just highlight a few things about this Great Commission, this end-time gospel warning message, that has to go to the world before Jesus comes. And you find the three angels' messages in Revelation chapter 14 beginning in verse 6. And John writes: "Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those that dwell upon the earth--to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people--saying with a loud voice," the message needs to go far and wide, "'Fear God, give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him that made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and the springs of water.'"

Now, that's the first angel's message. And here we find in verse 6 and 7 that it is proclaimed with a loud voice. But the second angel, we find in verse 8: "And another angel followed, saying, 'Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink the wine of the wrath of her fornication.'" So we understand that the first angel, the second, the third angel, this is part of this everlasting gospel that is to go to all the world. Now, the third angel's message you find in verse 9: "Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, 'If any man worships the beast or his image, or receives his mark in the forehead and the hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God.'" And you can read on.

You'll find the most fearful warning found anywhere in Scripture, is a warning, "Don't worship the beast, don't worship his image, don't receive his mark." Now, you'll notice something here in the three angels' messages. The first angel's message is proclaimed with a loud voice. The third angel's message is also proclaimed with a loud voice. But you find the second angel in verse 8 simply saying, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen." Now that's interesting to note.

Why does the first angel and the third angel have a loud voice, but we find the second angel simply saying, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen"? Well, we find another angel which helps to answer that in Revelation chapter 18 and the first few verses. Notice this, Revelation 18, verse 1: "After these things I saw another angel," this would be the fourth angel, "coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory."

Now, the angels of Revelation 14 and this angel in Revelation 18, in a very real sense represents God's people in the last days, empowered by the Spirit, taking a warning message to the world. This fourth angel, it says "is illuminated with the glory of God," a manifestation of God's character through His people in the last days. Verse 2 says: "And he cries mightily with a loud voice, 'Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen.'" So we have a repeat of the second angel's message. The difference between the fourth angel of Revelation 18 and the second angel, Revelation 14, is that the fourth angel is said to say his message with a loud voice. It says, "A mighty strong or loud voice." Mighty voice, "Babylon is fallen."

You see, God is calling upon His people in these last days to take a very special warning message to the world. That message must be given with a loud voice and, going along with that message, is a revelation of God's character. The earth is filled with the glory of God. How are we, as the church today, to fulfill this Great Commission that God has given to us, this last warning message before the Second Coming, how are we to do it? Well, the disciples had a similar concern or a similar problem in that they were to take this Great Commission given to them by Jesus. They didn't have the resources, they didn't have the manpower, but when they earnestly sought the Holy Spirit to empower them to take the gospel to the world, that's when the Holy Spirit came with power. We today, need to seek for the Holy Spirit the special outpouring known as the latter rain so that we can do the work that God has called us to do: that of taking the three angels' messages to the world. So intercessory prayer, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, is very much connected to the fulfillment of the work Christ is calling upon us to do.

Well, let's take a closer look then at some of the things that are brought to view in this week's study. On Sunday, the title of the study is, "A Cosmic Struggle." The question is why is intercessory prayer needed? Why is it so important? Well, I think we all realize that if you read the Bible, you understand that there is a great controversy taking place between the forces of good and the forces of evil, between Christ and Satan. And in this great controversy, there seems to be certain, I'll call it, rules of engagement.

There are certain things that God will not allow the devil to do. Now we can be very grateful for that because if the devil had his way, he'd probably try and destroy all of those who are Christians. He'd probably try to possess every person on earth but God will not allow the devil to possess or destroy. Yes, he can tempt, he can harass, but God has put bounds upon the devil. Now, if somebody opens up the door and gives more authority to the Bible to take possession of his mind or his heart, that's a different story, but there are limitations that God has put on the devil. Now, God being a God of justice, and God being fair, He has also limited what He does to influence a person for good. Now, in this great controversy, when we intercede on behalf of somebody else, when we are praying specifically for the salvation of another person, it in one sense gives God the ability or the right to do more to influence that person for their salvation than if we didn't pray.

You see, when God is going to do more to influence that person because we're praying, we're interceding for them, and the devil says, "Unfair, unfair, You're not allowed to do that, You're breaking these so-called rules of engagement," God can say, "No, I have a legal right to do so because one of My children are specifically interceding on behalf of that person." That's why intercessory prayer is so important when it comes to witnessing, evangelism, and the salvation of others.

Intercessory prayer makes a difference. It's not that God doesn't want to do more to influence someone, but He limits what He does because of this great controversy. But when we pray, that enables God to do even more.

Now, we get a glimpse of this controversy that we read about in the Bible, found in Revelation chapter 12. Revelation chapter 12 is that famous passage talking about this war in heaven. Revelation 12, beginning in verse 7, if you're following along with your Bibles. It says in there: "War broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought." So we find war taking place where? Not on earth, but it says war broke out in heaven. What a strange place for war to begin, but that's where it happened. The devil, here referred to as the dragon, he rebelled against God, rebelled against God's authority. As a result, there is this war, this conflict in heaven between the devil and his angels, those angels that he was able to deceive, and Michael and his angels.

Now, we're going to talk about Michael a little later on in our study. Verse 8 says: "But they did not prevail, nor was there a place found for them any longer in heaven." Verse 9: "So the great dragon was cast out." Now, who's the dragon? "That serpent of old, called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." Now, you'll read earlier in Revelation chapter 12 that this great dragon was able to swoop a third of the stars of heaven. According to Revelation chapter 1, stars in Bible prophecy can represent angels. So here we find the devil being able to deceive a third of the angels of heaven to join his rebellion against God. The good news is that God retained two thirds of the angels of heaven. But the devil loses this battle and he is finally cast out of heaven. Now, verse 10, still Revelation chapter 12: "Then I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, 'Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ has come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.'" Now, there is something I want you to note.

There is a war in heaven and the devil and his angels are cast out but in verse 10 of Revelation chapter 12, we read about the devil being cast down. Is there a difference between being cast out and being cast down? The reason I emphasize this is because if you look in verse 11 it says in there, "Overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives until death." It appears as though the casting down is connected with Christ's sacrifice on Calvary at the cross. So that's resulted in people asking, "Was this war in heaven, did it only take place at the time of the Crucifixion?" Well, no, this war in heaven took place even before the creation of the earth. The devil and his angels were cast out of heaven before the earth was created because we read back in Genesis, Genesis chapter 3 where the devil appears to Eve there in the Garden of Eden, he is at that point the rebellious one, he is the devil. But it seems as though even after Adam and Eve sinned, that the devil at least claimed to be the prince of this world or the leader of this world.

You see, God had given the leadership of this earth to Adam but when Adam sinned, he had in essence handed that leadership or that kingship to the devil. So the devil now claims the earth is his, claims this is his kingdom. You'll recall the story where there was this gathering. You can read about it in the book of Job where the sons of God appeared before God and the devil came and God said, "Where did you come from?" He says, "Oh, I've come from the earth, from walking up and down in it." You see, the devil claimed to be the representative of this earth. And to a certain degree, even Jesus acknowledged the devil as having some right to the earth when He referred to the devil as the prince of this earth, or the prince of this world. Now, one of the temptations that the devil brought to Jesus was, "If you bow down and worship me I will give You the kingdoms of this earth."

Now, one might wonder why would that have been a temptation to Jesus if there was no way that the devil could actually give the kingdoms. At least he appeared to be able to give the kingdoms to Christ. But at the cross, when Jesus died on the cross, the devil was cast down to this earth, meaning that he no longer was the representative of the earth. You see, Jesus now becomes the second Adam. Jesus paid the price. He redeemed the earth. Jesus is now the representative. The devil is sort of bound to this planet. He knows he has but a short time. That's why we read in verse 12: "Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you that dwell in them! But woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time."

So the devil's cast out of heaven before Creation but he's cast down at the cross. He's bound to this earth. He knows he's running out of time and, as a result, this great conflict, this great controversy, is intensifying as we near the end of time and, of course, we can witness that in our world today, not only through natural disasters but just these strange diseases. We see stress amongst nations, amongst peoples. These are all signs of this great controversy that is taking place in the world. Now, Paul says in Ephesians chapter 6, verse 12, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in high places." So Paul acknowledges this great controversy and he says, "We're not fighting against a physical foe; it's a spiritual battle." In verse 13: "Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you might be able to withstand in the day of evil, having done all, to stand." So we get admonished to put on the armor of God, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, the shield of faith, the breastplate of righteousness, and the belt of truth, and so on. So that we can stand.

We can stand against the wiles of the enemy, the devil, his temptations. 2 Corinthians chapter 10, verse 4, says: "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for the pulling down of strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into the captivity of the obedience of Christ." So a big part of this great controversy that we read about in the Bible is a battle not only in the world but it is a battle in the hearts and the minds of individuals. As Christians, our work is to bring every thought into harmony with the will of Christ. That is a day by day experience. It is the surrender of self, as the apostle Paul says, "I die daily." It is a moment by moment coming to Jesus, surrendering our hearts, our minds, asking Him to do His work within us to transform our hearts, our minds.

In the book, "The Great Controversy," page 525, we read the following: "It is a part of God's plan to grant in answer to the prayer, to our prayers, which He would not bestow did we not thus ask." That's a very important statement. God is willing to answer in response to our prayers that which He would not bestow had we not asked.” So when it comes to intercessory prayer, there is a power and that power is asking, coming before the Lord, interceding on behalf of somebody else. We might not see results immediately. We might be praying for someone for quite a period of time, sometimes many years for some, perhaps even a lifetime. And we might not see the results but God takes note of those prayers and He will answer them as we put our faith and trust in Him. There is power in prayer.

I remember hearing a story a friend shared with me. She was a missionary in South America and she was on a small plane flying from Bolivia to one of the other--Peru, I think, in that area. And they were flying up over the mountains and they found themselves in the midst of a very violent storm with much turbulence and the plane was leaning to the left and the right and going up and down and people were afraid in the plane and some were crying out. You could hear some people praying and, of course, she wasn't very comfortable either and she closed her eyes and began to pray and said, "Lord, just keep us safe. Take care of us." And after she had finished praying, she looked over to the person sitting beside her and this lady also had her eyes closed and her head bowed and my friend thought, "Oh, at least there's another Christian here and it's comforting to know that this person's also praying."

So after the person finished praying, sitting next to her, my friend said to her, "I'm so glad, it's comforting to know that there is another Christian praying for the safety of this flight." Well, she was very surprised by the response that this person gave. She said, "I'm not a Christian." She said, "Actually, I'm praying," and she was dead serious. She said, "I'm praying to Lucifer." She says, "I am a follower of Lucifer and I'm praying that his will, will be done as a result of this flight." Well, needless to say, my friend began to pray like never before. You see, there's power in intercessory prayer and I think it works both ways. When God's people pray and they intercede on behalf of others, there is power behind that but we need to recognize we have an adversary, the devil, and his followers, they're doing everything they can to try and increase the devil's ability to influence somebody else or to bring chaos, suffering, and despair. So this is a very real struggle, this great controversy theme. Prayer is to be one of our most powerful weapons in this warfare.

Well, then that brings us to Monday's lesson and Monday's lesson is entitled "Jesus: The Mighty Intercessor." And if you look at the example of Jesus, you can clearly see that Jesus believed in the power of intercessory prayer. In Luke chapter 22, beginning in verse 31, Jesus is speaking to Simon Peter: "And the Lord said, 'Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he might sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.'" Now, this is an interesting verse. Jesus says that Satan has asked for you, or asked for Peter. Why do you suppose Satan had asked for Peter? Well, did Peter deny Jesus? Yes, he did. And the devil said, "No, he's mine. Look at him. He's going to deny You. He's going to turn against You." And Jesus says, "No, I've prayed for him, that his faith will not fail."

So here we find Jesus interceding for His disciples. And of course, even now in heaven, Jesus, our high priest, is interceding for us. Our prayers are ascending up to Christ and He intercedes on our behalf. We can also find this principle in the book of Jude. Jude just has one chapter so it's Jude verse 9 and it says: "Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, 'The Lord rebuke thee!'" So here we find again Michael and we're going to talk about who Michael is. That's Christ in just a few moments. But he's contending with the devil about the body of Moses.

Now, we know, according to the books of the Old Testament that Moses died and he went up onto a mountain where he died. God, it says, buried him, but it seems as though, based on Jude here, that shortly after his death, God came to resurrect Moses and the devil was there to protest and say, "No, You can't resurrect him because he had sinned in striking the rock. No, he's mine." And yet it says the Lord didn't get into an argument. He just said, "The Lord rebuke thee." So here we find Jesus interceding on behalf of His people and Christ is interceding and contending with the devil for the salvation of souls. Now, of course, that lesson is important for us today when it comes to witnessing and evangelism, recognizing that Jesus is interceding on behalf of our loved ones, those that we are praying for. And Jesus hears our prayers. Hebrews chapter 7, verse 25: "Therefore He also is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them." And again, that's a powerful verse talking about Jesus, our high priest, interceding for us and He does so in heaven.

So throughout the Bible, we find that effective soul winners were men and women of prayer. They recognized the power of prayer, intercessory prayer, and God works as a result of our prayers for the salvation of others. But when it comes to soul winning and witnessing, one of the things that we like to share with our AFCOE students is first of all, you need to recognize that when you're giving someone a Bible study, that you are cooperating with the Holy Spirit in bringing that person to a point of conviction, ultimately by God's grace to conversion. You can't do it on your own. It requires the moving of the Holy Spirit. So we need to be working with the Holy Spirit. We need to be aware of what the Holy Spirit is doing in the heart and in the life of the person that we are studying with, and that's why intercessory prayer is important.

Usually, our students will go out to do Bible studies two by two, and the work of the one person in the group is simply to pray, to intercede. Now, it's not an official sort of visible prayer where they close their eyes and they pray there in the Bible study. And there is the lead person doing the Bible study. The other person is there to offer up those silent intercessory prayers, especially as they begin to see conviction come into the heart of the person that they're studying with. And maybe they're experiencing a bit of a struggle. Then it is that that person needs to pray and say, "Lord, please move upon this person's heart. Help them to realize the issues at stake, and so on." So intercessory prayer is very much involved in the work of soul winning. And that's what's being emphasized here. There is power in prayer.

There's a statement that we find in the book, "Ministry of Healing," page 143. It's a statement that we've already seen in our study of this quarter and it's probably a statement that we will hear several more times. It's a very important statement. "Ministry of Healing," page 143, and this is what it says: "Christ's method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Savior mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed his sympathy for them, He ministered to their needs, He won their confidence. Then He bade them, 'Follow Me.'" So what was the example that Christ gave? Notice, "Christ's method alone will give true success."

There is one method that works when it comes to soul winning and that's Christ's method. What did Jesus do? He mingled with people. He sympathized with them, He ministered to their needs, He won their confidence. Then He said, "Follow me." Now, in our work of soul winning and evangelism, we follow the same example. We want to mingle with people. We want to sympathize with them. We want to minister to their needs where we can. But we ultimately want to win their confidence so that we can share with them spiritual things. For many people, that ends up being a real challenge. How do we win someone's confidence? We might have a friend. Maybe it's someone we work with, maybe a neighbor, maybe even a family member, and we have a good relationship with them. They will share with us what their genuine concerns or needs might be, but when we try to share spiritual things with them, we notice that they're not interested. It's as if they build a wall right there. They don't want to hear what we have to say about spiritual things. How do we win their confidence so that they will hear what we have to say about Jesus?

One of the ways that we can win people's confidence is through intercessory prayer. And this is usually how it works. I'll give you an illustration of how this works. We moved to a new house here in Sacramento a number of years ago and just down the street from us, our neighbor, a very friendly family, we got to know them. He was a secular-minded man. He was doing very well financially. His business was doing well. And even though we became good friends, he was not interested in anything spiritual. Whenever I tried to bring up something spiritual, he'd say, "No, I'm not interested, don't have time." And so I began to pray and say, "Lord, how can I somehow reach," his name was Nick. "How can I reach Nick so that I can share with him spiritual things?"

During that time, we were studying something very important in AFCOE: when it comes to sharing our faith you want to build a relationship with someone so that they're willing to share a genuine concern that they have and then you respond and say, "Well, I understand the way you feel. I'd probably feel the same way if I was in your situation but I've found that God answers prayer. I'm going to pray about that." So this was one of the things we were learning there in our AFCOE class, and so I thought, "I'm going to try this with Nick."

One day I was visiting with him and I said, "How are things going?" He said, "Ah, it's not going so well." I said, "What's the problem?" He says, "Well, our daughter," she had just graduated from high school. He said, "Our daughter has decided to move to Las Vegas with a friend." Now, he was a secular-minded man but he knew Vegas was not the place for an 18-year-old, and he said, "We're very concerned about her." So I responded and said, "Well, I can understand the way you feel. I'd probably feel the same way if my daughter was 18 and she wanted to go to Las Vegas, but I have found that God answers prayer. I'm going to pray for her." Now, of course, the moment I said anything about God and prayer, he kind of rolled his eyes. I could see he wasn't interested. But I went home and I told my family and my kids were little at the time. I said, "Hey, we have a special prayer request. We're going to pray for Mr. Nick, and we're going to ask that somehow the Lord will reveal Himself to Nick through this situation." Every morning worship, evening worship, at prayer meeting, we would have a prayer request. That would be for Nick. So we prayed for him, we prayed for him.

Couple of weeks went by and I went over to visit with him and in the conversation I asked, I said, "Hey, Nick, I've been praying about that situation with your daughter. Has God done anything yet?" Ha, he had a little smile that came over his face. He said, "You've been praying about it, huh?" I said, "Yes, I've been praying about it." He said, "Funny you should say that. Just today, she called. She said things were not working out in Las Vegas. She had decided to come back home." I said, "Praise the Lord." He said, "Do you think God answered your prayer?" I said, "I know God answered my prayer." He says, "Does God always answer your prayer?" I said, "God always answers. One way or another, He will answer." He says, "Does God only answer your prayer or will He answer anybody's prayer?"

Suddenly, Nick began to have questions about prayer. I was able to actually share with him how that God wants us to pray and that God is not a respecter of persons, that He likes and wants everyone to come and bring their petitions before Him. And he was actually open to learning more about prayer, how he could actually try and pray to see if God would move.

So when it comes to this work of intercessory prayer, we want to be specific. We are praying for an individual. We need to get to know them, find out what their need is, what their concern is, and then purposely pray for them, asking that God would somehow reveal Himself to the person through the situation. And then we need to follow up. Often we neglect to follow up with the person and so we don't get to see what God is doing to reveal Himself. So intercessory prayer is just so important when it comes to soul winning. And, of course, we see the example of that throughout the Bible.

One of the greatest evangelists of New Testament times was the apostle Paul and we have many examples of Paul lifting up intercessory prayer for people. Paul believed that something would happen as a result of prayer. For example, Ephesians chapter 1, verse 15. This is Paul writing to the Ephesian believers in the town of Ephesus and he says, "Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers." So there he is, he's specifically mentioning individuals in his prayer, and what is he asking God to do for them? Verse 17 says that "God--that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him." So he's specific. He's praying for people but he's praying that they would have a clearer understanding or knowledge of God. Verse 18: "The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you might know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints." And verse 19, "and what is the exceeding greatness of the power towards us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power."

So the things that Paul is asking for, he's interceding on these believers, for these believers, and he's saying, "Lord, please help them to understand more of who You are, to understand more about Your glory, to have a better knowledge of You." But he's also praying and saying, "Lord, please allow Your power to work within them, that mighty power that transforms the heart and the life. Allow that power to work in that person's life." And of course, that needs to be our prayer when we're interceding for others.

And then one of my favorite passages of Scripture is Ephesians chapter 3. This is the apostle Paul's prayer request and what a prayer request it is. Ephesians chapter 3 and verse 14. This is what it says: "For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." So Paul's going to pray about something. Verse 15: "For whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named." Verse 16: "That He would grant you," so Paul is interceding for the believers. I believe this prayer request is not only for the believers there in Ephesus but I think it's true for any believer. Paul is praying that "God would grant you according to the riches of the glory--of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man." So his prayer request is, "Lord, please send Your Spirit to strengthen these individuals in their inner man, in their hearts." Verse 17: "That Christ might dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and the length and the depth and the height--to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you might be filled with all the fullness of God."

What a prayer request that is. Lord, please fill these individuals with the fullness of Yourself. And verse 20 says: "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we think or ask, according to the power that works in us," that is the Holy Spirit, "to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever, amen." So what is Paul praying for? He's praying for a knowledge of the truth and he's praying for an indwelling of the Spirit, that Christ might dwell in the heart.

I was reminded of what Jesus said to the woman at the well when I read Paul's prayer request. In John chapter 4, verse 23, Jesus said, "The time is coming when those who worship God, the true worshipers, will worship Him in Spirit and in truth." So the two things that Jesus says are necessary for true worship is being Spirit-filled and following the truth of His Word. Those are the two things that we should be praying for when it comes to interceding on behalf of others.

All right, well, then that brings us, I need to move right along, to Wednesday's lesson and the title there is, "Unseen Powers at Work." This is just a really great study in Daniel chapter 10. Daniel chapter 10 is probably one of the clearest demonstrations of this great controversy and the importance of intercessory prayer.

Now, a little bit of the background to the story. Daniel at this time is a captive. He is still in Babylon. This is nearing the end of the 70 years of Babylonian captivity. Daniel has been studying the writings of the other prophets and, in that study, he has read Jeremiah chapter 29, verse 10, which speaks about that captivity being 70 years. Now, based upon 6 or 5 BC when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem, Daniel is doing the math. He realizes we're coming up to that seventy-year time period. We're very close to that seventy-year time period. And so Daniel begins to intercede and pray on behalf of his people. And we pick up the story here in Daniel chapter 10, verse 1 and 2. It says: "In the third year of the reign of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar. The message was true, but the appointed time was long; and he understood the message, and had an understanding of the vision." Verse 2 says: "In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three full weeks." So as a result of his study, realizing that that time period was coming to an end, that the Jews were to go back, and yet he realized that the heart of the Jewish people, they were not set upon leaving, they were not committed to God to be obedient to him, and so Daniel begins to intercede on behalf of his people. And he's praying earnestly for three full weeks.

Well, an answer comes as a result of his prayer and you'll find in verse 12, the angel comes and speaks to Daniel. "Then he said to me, 'Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before God, your words were heard; and I've come because of your words.'" So the angel is saying, "Daniel, your prayer was heard. The day you began to pray, I came." "But," verse 13. "But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me 21 days;" and remember, earlier, it says that Daniel had prayed for three full weeks. Well, that's 21 days. So when Daniel began to pray, the angel was sent to work with the king of Persia but the adversary, the devil, was hindering the work of the angel. Verse 13: "But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me 21 days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia." So for 21 days, the angel works on the heart of the king of Persia but the devil is there to withstand him.

Finally, in response to Daniel's prayer, Michael comes to assist in this work of convincing the king that the Jews are to go back and rebuild Jerusalem. Now, this is an incredible thought that in response to Daniel's prayer, Michael comes. Now, you might be wondering, "Well, who is Michael?" Well, Michael is the prophetic name for Jesus. And I'll give you some verses on that. The word "Michael" literally means "who is like God." And in Daniel chapter 12, verse 1, we read: "Michael the great prince that stands watch for the children of thy people."

We know that Christ intercedes on behalf of His people. Jude 9 talks about Michael being the archangel or the ruler of the angels. We're not saying Michael is an angel. The word, the "archangel" means ruler of or the one above, like an arch, which is above the door, archangel, the ruler of the angels, or the commander of the heavenly host. Here He's called Michael. 1 Thessalonians chapter 4, verse 16 tells us: "For the Lord," that's Christ. "The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel." Did you notice that the Lord Himself coming from heaven has the voice of the archangel? And it says: "The dead in Christ shall rise first." So Jesus is the one who has the voice of the archangel and it's that voice that raises the dead.

Now, one more verse: John chapter 5, verse 28 says, speaking of Jesus, "All those who are in their graves shall hear His voice," that's the voice of Christ, "and shall come forth." So the voice that raises the dead is the voice of Christ. Michael is said to be the archangel and the voice that raises the dead is the voice of the archangel, therefore Michael is Jesus. So Michael is the prophetic name of Jesus. And here we find Jesus actually coming as a result of Daniel's prayer of intercession. Jesus comes to push back, to hold back, the forces of evil in order for the king of Persia to make that decision to allow the Jews to come, to go back and rebuild. Now, the reason for that is because, as a whole, the Jewish people, they weren't fully committed upon returning. Seventy years had gone by. They had become comfortable in their new home, Babylon. They were doing quite well and to actually now go back to Jerusalem to a broken-down city and to start rebuilding, that required effort, there was a commitment, there was sacrifice, and Daniel knew this and so he's praying, saying, "Please, Lord." And the devil's saying, "No, they're mine. Look, they're not interested in going. They want to stay in Babylon." And so this controversy is taking place. Jesus is even present to answer the prayer of the prophet Daniel. Just incredible passage.

Well, then that brings us to Thursday's lesson and Thursday is "Prayer Focus." So when it comes to intercessory prayer, we want to be focused. We want to pray specifically. We can see the example of Jesus. Jesus prayed specifically for His disciples, even mentioning them by name. Paul prayed specifically for the believers and he also mentions specific individuals by name. When we want to share our faith and we begin to witness, we need to pray specifically for the people that we are working with. Praying that somehow, God would arrange circumstances where He could reveal Himself to that person where they'd be open to hearing more spiritual truth.

So we need to be specific in our prayer. You have the prophet Samuel in 1 Samuel chapter 12, verse 23. This is at the coronation of King Saul. And notice what Samuel says. This is verse 23 of 1 Samuel 12: "Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you." So Samuel felt that this was his calling and if he did not pray for God's people, for the Israelites, he would be sinning against the Lord. That's how serious Saul took this work of intercessory prayer. And in Job chapter 16, verse 21, we read: "Oh, that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleads for his neighbor!" So here is a call that we, as Christians, as believers, should intercede, should plead, for the salvation of others. That's what Jesus did, that's what the apostles did, that's what the believers of the Old Testament time period did. That's what God wants us to do. After all, conversion, the moving of the Holy Spirit on the heart of individuals and you've got to pray. You've got to allow the Holy Spirit to do a work that only He can do.

This is an encouraging statement that you find in "Testimonies to the Church, Volume I," page 346. Notice this. It said, "Satan cannot endure to have his powerful rival appealed to, for he fears and trembles before His strength and majesty. At the sound of fervent prayer, Satan's whole host trembles." So at the sound of fervent prayer, when we intercede for others, it says Satan's whole host trembles.

So our lesson this week has been emphasizing the importance of intercessory prayer. Now, some of you might be wondering, "Well, where do I really start with this intercessory prayer? I'm not even quite sure how to pray. It seems that when I pray, I end up, you know, wandering off topic and, you know, I need some structure in prayer. How do I get that?"

Let me share with you just a simple little tool that I've been using that's proven to be very helpful in helping to keep my prayers focused and it might be a blessing for you. I think of the word "pray," P-R-A-Y, and I think of each of those letters as representing something. The word "P" can stand for Praise. So when you begin your prayer, think specifically of things that you can praise God for. You want to thank God for the blessings that He's given you, answered prayers. You want to thank Him for providing for your physical literal needs but also for your spiritual needs and spend some time being specific, thinking of things that you can praise God for. That's the "P."

The "R" stands for Repent. And that's where we need to say, "Lord, please forgive me for what I said here or, Lord, help me. Give me the strength to overcome that temptation. Give me victory." We want to repent. Repent of our sins, allow the Holy Spirit to convict us of those areas in our lives that we have not fully surrendered to Christ.

The "A," of course, stands for Ask, and that's where we bring all of our requests before God and I think that in particular is a time for us to intercede on behalf of others. Not only asking for our needs but we're also asking that the Lord would guide and bless and move on the hearts of those that we love or our friends, those that we are sharing our faith with, that God would intercede on their behalf.

And then finally, the "Y" stands for Yield, and that, in essence, is surrendering. Surrendering all to Jesus. And that is surrendering ourselves, surrendering our families, and in particular, surrendering those that we are witnessing to, trusting that we can place them in God's hands, we can place them in God's protection. God knows what's best. We're interceding on their behalf and we're giving them, so to speak, into the hands of God, saying, "Lord, please do whatever You have to do to try and reveal Yourself to this person, to bring them to a point of repentance and a genuine change of heart." So intercessory prayer is so important when it comes to witnessing.

So quick summary. What did we learn? We looked at the example of Jesus. We found that He interceded on behalf of others. We looked at the example of Paul and some of the examples of the Old Testament Bible characters. We realized that there is a very real battle between good and evil. Intercessory prayer is the key in gaining the victory so that souls can be won for the kingdom.

We'd like to again remind you of our free offer for today. It is a book entitled, "Teach Us to Pray," and we'll be happy to send this to anyone in North America. Just ask for the free offer. It's 717 and the number is 866-788-3966. Again, that number is 866-788-3966. Ask for offer number 717. Or you can request a digital copy of the book by texting the code, "SH065" to the number "40544." Again, we want to thank you so much for joining us here for our Sabbath School Study Hour and until we study again, may God bless.

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Male: I had a lot of pressure as a pastor's kid to perform. They're not allowed to make the same mistakes as everyone else. Not only are people looking at you, but they're judging your father according to what they see in you. After a while, you get tired of carrying that load as a child. By the time it got time for me to leave home, I was pretty much finished with all that. I just--I wasn't good enough and I didn't belong in there. So when I left home, I went to the world, at a dead run. You know, I partied and went to work and, you know, was living my life as the way I wanted to. And I just wanted to be left alone.

One day, I was driving my motorcycle with some buddies of mine. All of a sudden, I had oil running everywhere, all up and down my arm and across my legs, and rippling down the tank in the wind. And we loaded it up on a trailer and sent it to the shop to have it fixed. So I went to pick it up and the mechanic came out. He said, "You know," he said, "we got your front end rebuilt." He said, "That wasn't the bad part." He said, "The bad part was the only thing holding the front tire on was the weight of the motorcycle." So all I would have had to have done was accelerate quickly and front tire would have came off.

And it got my attention, it got me to thinking, you know, you hear a lot of people talking about, you know, the relationship that they have with Jesus and all that, and I didn't even know what that was supposed to look like. It began to work on my mind. I think God was beginning to speak to me. I believe that you can say I may be a poster child for the shepherd lost sheep story because I wasn't looking for God. I didn't really care. But He cared about me. And He came and got me.

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Doug Batchelor: On Christmas Eve, 1971, 17-year-old Juliane Koepcke boarded LANSA flight 508 with her mother in Lima, Peru. They intended to join her father for Christmas at his research station in the Amazon rainforest. After crossing the Andes at about 21,000 feet, their aircraft was enveloped by large dark thunderclouds and it encountered severe turbulence. Lightning was flashing everywhere and the plane was shaking violently, which naturally terrified the passengers. Then a bolt of lightning struck the plane's engine and tore off a wing.

As the doomed airliner hurtled towards the earth, the cabin came apart and the next thing she knew, Juliane found herself strapped alone to a row of seats, falling and spinning silently from over 10,000 feet above the rainforest. She plummeted through the jungle canopy and slammed to the forest floor. When she awoke the next day, Juliane was amazed to realize she had survived the 2-mile fall with just a broken collarbone and a bad gash in her arm. After failing to find any other survivors, Juliane relied on what her father had taught her, that walking downstream will always lead to civilization. So with a bag of candy that had fallen from the plane and one sandal, she started walking.

For ten days, Juliane hobbled, swam, or floated downstream. Her wounds became infected and she was plagued by maggots while having to dodge crocodiles, piranhas, and relentless insects. Eventually, she came to a shack where she slept and she was soon discovered by Peruvian loggers. Eventually, Juliane was united with her amazed father. It's hard to imagine a 17-year-old girl surviving such a fall and then hiking alone out of the world's largest rainforest.

You know, the Bible talks about some who survived an even greater fall than Juliane. In fact, according to the Scriptures, when Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden, it brought the whole human race down. But Jesus came to redeem the world from sin. Perhaps you're thinking to yourself, "Well, that's okay for the world but I've fallen too far." Well, if the Lord can save Juliane, God can save you. You've not gone farther than Moses who was guilty of murder or David who was guilty of adultery or Peter who denied Jesus, and all of them were saved and restored from their fall. Or maybe you're thinking, "I've fallen too many times." Be of good courage. It says in Proverbs chapter 24, verse 16: "A righteous man falls seven times and rises again." And Jesus cast seven devils out of Mary Magdalene.

So don't get discouraged, friend. If you've fallen, get back up again. The same way that He could save Juliane, lead her from that lost condition in the rainforest, and restore her to her father, Jesus can lead you from your lost condition and restore you to your heavenly Father.

Announcer: In six days God created the heavens and the earth. For thousands of years man has worshiped God on the seventh day of the week. Now, each week, millions of people worship on the first day. What happened? Why did God create a day of rest? Does it really matter what day we worship? Who was behind this great shift? Discover the truth behind God's law and how it was changed. Visit SabbathTruth.com.

Male: "I was a stranger and you took Me in."

Male: "Assuredly, I say to you inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these, My brethren, you did it to Me."

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