Prayer warriors have written many books on prayer, but this statement was not from any of these writers. It came from the driest of all — The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament .
Yet, this quote from an article written by Dr. Victor Hamilton is extremely profound:
“An intercessor is one who makes contact with God as opposed to many who simply dabble in prayer.”
He made it while discussing the Hebrew word “paga” often translated “intercessor” or “intercession” in the Old Testament.
I want to talk about intercession as defined by the word “paga.” It has a wide range of meanings and usages. Each of these shades serve up a fuller understanding of the word.
In this article, we will look at one of the primary meanings of “paga” which according to the Wordbook is “to encounter, meet, reach, entreat, make intercession.”
intercessors make contact with God
The word is used a number of times to describe meetings between individuals — Samuel told Saul he would meet or encounter a group of prophets (1 Sam 10:5).
Afterward you will come to the hill of God where the Philistine garrison is; and it shall be as soon as you have come there to the city, that you will meet (paga) a group of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and a lyre before them, and they will be prophesying. (NASV)
Hamilton writes that in almost every instance in the Old Testament — where “paga” is used in this sense — it implies physical contact.
The primary goal of intercession is to make “contact” with God. Like in the natural, when contact is made, there is interaction between both parties.
I don’t believe there is a gift of intercession. Anyone, at any point, can choose to intercede.
When a person presses into God, there comes a moment when they are “standing” before God.
Though the word intercede is not specifically used in Ezekial 22: 30, 31, the concept is implicit. God was concerned there was no one in Israel willing to:
“stand in the gap before Me for the land so I would not destroy it; but I found no one.” (NASV)
Where prayer involves one-way communication, intercession is two-way. The intercessor speaks to God, hears from God and because of this enters into a more intense negotiation with the Heavenly Father.
Interceding on behalf of others
The word “paga” is used in Isaiah 53 to describe Jesus’ intercession on behalf of the unsaved.
“Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And I will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, AND INTERCEDED (paga) FOR THE TRANSGRESSORS.” (Isaiah 53:12 NASV)
The word is used in a similar fashion in Isaiah 59:15-16:
“Now the Lord saw, And it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice. And He saw that there was no man, And was astonished there was no one to intercede (paga);” (NASV)
In this verse, the word intercessor is pictured as a legal advocate pleading on behalf of his client for justice — in this case the Great Judge. God was concerned no individual was willing to intercede for God to move on this situation.
I’m sure the Holy Spirit was pulling on some heart strings, but no one responded.
In March 2007, Cindy Jacobs, co-founder of Generals International, issued a urgent prayer alert published on Charisma.com. She believed the time was critical to pray against terrorism and for revival in America.
“We are in one of the most strategic hours for intercessors that we have ever been in. I am very concerned about another terrorist attack. I want to tell you I have been praying over the borders. And I really feel that in a way the church has gone to sleep. The church has gotten discouraged and passive. This is not a time to get off the wall! We want to call people to fast and pray right now for America.
“We are at a crossroads. This is the day that God is speaking. And if His people will listen, then the enemy’s plots are going to be exposed because the prophets know even what the kings are doing in their bedrooms. God is going to do that.
“I want to say this in America. If we don’t pray, we are going into one of the greatest declines this country has ever known, but if we pray we will go into the day of the greatest revival.”
Signs of contact
I would go one step further and suggest because an intercessor has contacted God, there can be actual physical manifestations of this encounter.
It doesn’t have to be anything profound. It could be as simple as a deep sense of inner peace brought on by the Holy Spirit. In other instances, I have seen deep travails in God, with uncontrollable manifestations such as heaving or even birthing pangs.
Others just “know” their prayers were heard and answered. This “knowing” is a witness produced by the Holy Spirit indicating their prayer was heard.
When Saul met (paga) a group of prophets, the Holy Spirit fell upon him and he prophesied and this was a sign of his meeting with God:
Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you mightily, and you shall prophesy with them and be changed into another man. 7 It shall be when these signs come to you, do for yourself what the occasion requires, for God is with you. (1 Samuel 10:6-7 NASV)
In a similar way, when we have made contact with God through intercession, there are often signs of this encounter.
Read more in this series:
- Paga: The Intercessor
- Paga: Hitting the mark in intercession
- Paga: The intercessor as a warrior
- Paga: The intercessor claims territory for God
- Paga: The intercessor negotiates with God
- Paga: The intercessor carries a burden