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The Difference Between Prayer and Intercession

Many Christians are confused about the difference between prayer and intercession. Yet in the teaching of Christ in John 15, in the testimony of the apostles and in the lives of the prophets it is clear!

When we pray, the emphasis is on ‘we or I,’ going to prayer! It is our prayer, or my prayer and desire. When we pray, we hope God will answer it and we hope it is according to His will. However, in intercession, it is the Holy Spirit who prays and intercedes.

The intercessor only prays what the Holy Spirit asks him or her to plead.

Prayer often begins with us, but intercession always begins with the Holy Spirit. It is He who tells the intercessor to pray this or that. It is He, the Holy Spirit who gives the terms and conditions of the intercession. This is what abiding is – often the Holy Spirit asks the intercessor to meet some practical obligation to prove the depth of the intercession. He may ask the intercessor to fast, to give, to change one’s attitude to become more Christ like etc. Then, as the intercessor follows the will of the Holy Spirit, He prays through the believer with groans that cannot be uttered (Romans 8:26).

When the Holy Spirit lays an intercession on a believer, that person is committed to the intercession – to pray it daily, hourly and in every minute until it is answered. I don’t mean having a prayer time every minute, but living out the intercession in one’s life – it is always on one’s heart (1 Thessalonians 5:17). It is His intercession and burden being prayed through His vessel.

After Rees Howells, a powerful intercessor, was possessed by the Holy Spirit, he saw the hypocrisy of an unsurrendered good Christian life. The Holy Spirit showed him that in the unsurrendered state he could spend much time asking God to meet many needs, and yet be totally unwilling for God to answer any prayer through him. The Holy Spirit revealed that the Lord is “wearied with our words” (Malachi 2:17). All this unreality and disobedience had to be put on one side.

This is an excerpt from the book Holy Spirit Power! Knowing the Voice, Guidance and Person of the Holy Spirit’ by Paul Backholer and is used by permission.

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