By Joe LaGuardia
Some time ago I was anxious about issues related to church. There were things on my mind that I had no control over, things that should not have worried me but did. I was driving myself crazy, my wife crazy, and distracting my kids from family time.
It did not take long before the Holy Spirit woke me up early one morning. There are few times I wake up earlier than 5:00 AM, and when the Holy Spirit wakes me up that early, I know I need to listen! That kind of movement is qualitatively different, and there washes over me a particular–indescribable, really–spiritual manifestation that captures my attention and heart.
In that moment I dumped (for lack of a better word) everything before God. It was a combination of robust prayer–of boldness, so to speak–and honesty. I said in my spirit, “God, you handle this! This is your church, your ministry. My life is yours, and you’ve called me to this. You deal with this.”
A few minutes later I fell back to sleep in a posture of rest and peace that I had not felt in a long time.
This event reminded me of the power of intercessory prayer. It is a type of prayer we see in Isaiah 37, when one of God’s children had more than he can handle, and he needed to hand it over to God.
Isaiah 36 and 37 are chapters that come from a time when the Assyrian nation threatened the existence of Judah. Assyria had conquered most of the Middle East; Israel and Egypt were next. The Assyrian king, Sennacherib, threatened Judah’s King Hezekiah with a royal letter: “You know perfectly well what the kings of Assyria have done wherever they have gone. They have completely destroyed everyone who stood in their way!”
Sennacherib went on to say that the gods of other nations did not come to the rescue, why should Hezekiah expect the God of Israel to be any different?
Upon receiving this letter, Hezekiah became anxious. The threat against his nation was very real, and the Assyrians had threatened him personally! But instead of running around wondering what to do, Hezekiah’s sought the Lord. Scripture says that Hezekiah went to the Temple, spread the letter before the Lord, and interceded on behalf of the nation.
As a result, the Lord responded: “Because you prayed about King Sennacherib of Assyria, the Lord has spoken this word against him.” God affirmed that Assyria was a mere pawn in a larger drama of salvation and that God would protect Israel.
We Christians must be mindful of the power of intercessory prayer. We must spread our own letters of anxiety before the Lord and remember that the Lord promises to take care of us. We need to rest assured that the Holy Spirit will pray with us just as much as the Spirit captures our hearts, and gives us boldness to bring everything before Him.
In a devotional based on Isaiah 37, F. B. Meyer states, “Let us more habitually hand over our anxieties and cares to God. God calls us to enter his rest…to place Himself and his care between us and all that would hurt or annoy.”
Intercede on behalf of those loved ones in your life. Affirm and ask God to protect you and keep you. In all things, surrender unto God and trust that the Holy Spirit will bring a peace that surpasses understanding. There is power in prayer and in intercession.
Lord, hear our prayers!