I have been doing a study on the Hebrew word ‘paga’ translated as intercessor or intercession in the Old Testament. This word has a large range of meanings and each of these help us better understand intercessory prayer.
In my previous article, we saw ‘paga’ meant hitting the mark and discussed how God wants to guide the prayer of the intercessor.
In this post, I want to look at a third usage of the word ‘paga’ — it means conflict or war.
The word is used 15 times in the Old Testament to describe battle. In fact, it became synonymous for “falling upon” people or attacking them. (1 Samuel 22:17, Judges 8:21; Judges 15:12, 2 Samuel 1:15).
When an intercessor steps to the plate, he or she enters the realm of spiritual warfare — a battle with demonic forces. It is simply unavoidable. You can not intercede without initiating a battle; as such you must be prepared to fight to the end.
Withdrawal means defeat.
In Isaiah 59:16, God was amazed there was no intercessor pleading for Israel’s cause. In the verse that follows, it appears God chooses to become the intercessor on behalf of Israel.
As we read verse 17, an image emerges of a warrior, as the prophet describes God putting on a breast-plate of righteousness, a helmet of salvation, garments of vengeance and a cloak of zeal.
God was preparing to intercede for Israel and in the process readied Himself for the spiritual battle that lay ahead:
16 And He saw that there was no man,
And was astonished that there was no one to intercede (paga);
Then His own arm brought salvation to Him,
And His righteousness upheld Him.
17 He put on righteousness like a breastplate,
And a helmet of salvation on His head;
And He put on garments of vengeance for clothing
And wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle. (Isaiah 59: 16, 17 NASV)
This is undoubtedly the passage from which the Apostle Paul developed his teaching on the Armour of God in Ephesians 6:13-17. In verse 18, Paul closes this passage telling us with the armour firmly in place we can now enter into battle through prayer:
“With all prayer and petition (Greek for intercession) pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.” (v 18 NASV)
Of course, Paul explains why we need the armour:
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (v 12 NASV)
The power and authority of the intercessor
One of the keys to success in spiritual warfare is perspective. We must fully understand our place in Christ. Without this, we are unable to pray effectively.
In his passage on spiritual authority recorded in Ephesians 1:18-23, Paul starts off in verse 18, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.”
To succeed in battle we need enlightenment — revelation of who we are in Christ. Our success is ultimately based on how we think.
So what exactly was Paul referring to?
In verse 19, he talks about the power of God that is available to the believer. This power is directed towards us. The power is already there, we need to simply receive it.
- and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. (v 19)
In verses 20-23, Paul then talks about the authority of the believer.
- “Which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places far above all rule and authority and power and dominion … And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him head over all things to the church, Which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
God has seated Christ in the heavenlies and He has authority over all realms. This same authority is also given to the church. It is the authority we have “in Jesus Name.” (See Matthew 28:18-19)
Your success in prayer is dependant on how fully you grasp the authority and power given to you through Jesus.
You need to understand that you have already won the victory and what you are doing is enforcing it.
Successful intercession is a matter of perspective.
We must pray as the victor.
Read more in this series: