As my faithful Folders will recall, I have found that not many Christian books contain enough meat, especially quality meat, to warrant the prices that are charged. Typically, it is by word of mouth that I even take the plunge, and by the third chapter I often regret the purchase.
I followed a thread of recommendations, recognizing names of those I regard, and landed on a book by Dutch Sheets, “Intercessory Prayer: How God Can Use Your Prayers to Move Heaven and Earth.” I accidentally purchased the workbook, and, after realizing my mistake, bought the book. It’s a good mistake. I’ll continue forward and use the workbook to solidify the lessons that are taught. Bear in mind, Mr. Sheets may be famous, or not, but to me he is a new name. I do not follow the Who’s Who in Christian circles, mostly because I understand God and how he delights in using the underdog to showcase his marvels, but also, I do not care about outward appearances and do not trail after the stars.
Sheets uses a very informal style of writing, inserting quips and jokes that quite possibly slip by the casual reader. I like it. I do not want a deep exegesis that one must wear wading boots to muck through to the next chapter. As an intercessor, I needed some clear, easy teaching on how to revitalize my gift. My prayers for others are always so powerful, but because personal prayers went woefully unanswered, I gave up interceding for myself and floated with the current of God’s will.
Let me emphasize that Sheets backs up all his lessons with scripture, which is a biggie for me, and analyzes both the Hebrew and Greek words used to support his teaching. I will sum up some of the major points of what an intercessor is:
- Adam was the original ruler (manager) of the earth, he was God’s representative, given full authority over it.
- After the fall, Satan became ruler, until Christ became the mediator between men and God (I Tim 2:5), guaranteeing us access to the Father (I John 2:1).
- Intercession is defined as, “mediating, going between, pleading for another” (Sheets). The intercessor has the authority, as a delegate of Christ, to represent Him in the mediation here on earth. Always in the name of Jesus – never our own power.
- Intercession is an “extension of the ministry of Jesus through His Body, the Church, whereby we mediate between God and humanity for the purpose of reconciling the world to Him” (Sheets).
- Intercessors are spokesman, releasing what God has already done (be it deliverance, reconciliation, healing, etc…)
My conundrum has always been, “Well, if it’s God’s will, then why pray?” This explanation is what made the book worth its weight for me:
- God has chosen to work through people. Andrew Murray said, “God’s giving is inseparably connected with our asking…only by intercession can the power be brought down from heaven which will enable the Church to conquer the world.”
- Referring to Daniel’s discovery of Jeremiah’s prophecy, Paul E. Billheimer states: Daniel evidently realized that intercession had a part to play in bringing the prophecy to pass. God had made the prophecy. When it was time for its fulfillment He did not fulfill it arbitrarily outside of His program of prayer. He sought for a man upon whose heart He could lay a burden of intercession. As always, God made the decision in heaven. A man was called upon to enforce that decision on earth through intercession and faith.” (Emphasis mine).
- Ezekial 22:30-31 illustrates how God was looking for someone to stand in the gap (intercede) so he would not have to destroy the land – and none was found, so the land was destroyed.
- S.D. Gordon sums it up by saying, “Prayer surely does influence God. It does not influence His purpose. It does influence His action."
- Sheets states: Jesus made us able ministers, ably administrating the blessings and provisions of the new covenant. He is saying, “What I have done, you must enforce. I have put them under My feet legally – under my Authority – but you must exercise that authority in individual situations, causing the literal fulfillment of it.”
The book continues to cite different types of intercessory prayer and goes in to greater detail of the information bullet-pointed above, but I felt that the two key elements were the role of the intercessor and how God’s will was incorporated in prayer. Sheets writes out sample prayers so that the reader can understand how to implement the mediator role – I liked that, too.
As a seasoned veteran, I would like to add a cautionary comment. Most Christians attending prayer groups cannot bear the weight of really heavy baggage. Bless their sincere hearts, they HAVE to get rid of it, pass it off to one or more people. This is so damaging to the ministry. If someone has a really juicy life, please paraphrase during prayer. God knows the details and then the weaker one won’t stumble. I have seen it so many times, including last week through an acquaintance of my daughter. God always reveals the weak links. If you are not a vault, you probably should not be privy to others' problems.
This book is a practical, easy read for understanding prayer. Mr. Sheets writes casually, as if he is speaking to you. While I enjoyed his humor, for some it might cause a bit of confusion while reading. He offers plenty of examples and stories to support and explain his ideas. I disagreed with one portion of his Biblical interpretation, but I do not believe it negatively altered the relevance of the information.
In honor of my e-bloggin’ friends, I feel I must rate this book. I shall use the ever-popular Fish/Bone rating system. Fish indicating what is worth keeping, and Bones for what needs to be wrapped up in newspaper and tossed out……and the drumroll please....
If it is available for lending in Kindle world, I would be happy to do so (you'll have to check Amazon and let me know). My library did not offer it, but perhaps yours does.
Thanks for tuning in.
Thanks for tuning in.