A Guide To Intercessory Prayer
by Rev. Richard W. LaFountain

Intimacy Before Intercession

"Are you known at the throne?"

There is an interesting event in the 19th chapter of the book of Acts. Paul is preaching in Ephesus, and God is doing great wonders among the spiritist people. Two Jews take it on themselves to cast out demons like Paul, using the name of Jesus as their magic words. It didnít work. Jesus name is not a magic word, it represents a relationship. Without the relationship, there is no power in using his name. So the demons jumped all over these clever fellows, but before doing so they left us with a clear spiritual insight. They said, "Jesus we know, and Paul we know, but who are you?"

You see Jesus was known in heavenly places because of who he is. Even the demons knew him in his ministry as Son of David, who came to destroy them. He, Jesus, was mighty in prayer. Paul was a follower of Jesus, but he also developed intimacy with God in his closet of prayer, so that he was a familiar face before the throne of God, and evidently a terrifying spectacle to demons as well. Paul was known around the throne! Paul was known in spiritual realms as a friend of God, and therefore a force to be reckoned with. God fought for him. Are you known at the throne?

Jesus calls us to develop an intimate relationship with him and the Father by becoming frequent visitors before the throne. This is why Paul could say in Hebrews 4:12, "Therefore, (since we are intimate with the Son of God) let us come boldly to the throne of grace to find mercy and grace to help in the time of need." The secret was not some pretended, forced, or ad-libed boldness of "name-it and claim-it" before the throne, but a natural result of intimacy with God developed over long hours, days, months, and years of being a regular worshipper around the throne.

The lesson is clear. We are not magicians before the throne, magically calling things into existence by using the mighty name of Jesus, but we are "friends of God" known at the throne, and therefore feared by demons. William Cowper said it rightly in his work, Exhortation to Prayer, "Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees."

Early in my ministry one of my favorite books on prayer was by the notable Baptist preacher, John R. Rice. One of his memorable chapters was titled, "Prayer Is Asking." One can easily be drawn into that kind of understanding of prayer but it is not quite true. Part of prayer is asking, but "before the asking comes the basking." We need to learn to bask in the presence of God, to revel in God himself, to soak ourselves in the presence of the Almighty, to hide beneath his wing, to take refuge in his everlasting arms. God seeks such to worship him who would worship (pray) in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24) Daniel reminds us that prayer is a relationship, "but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits." (Daniel 11:32 KJV)

Worship comes before wishing, wanting, or wallowing. We are not beggars before the throne. We are sons. Sons who only know their Father as Santa Claus are not sons. True sons revel in the relationship of their loving Father. The "stuff" they get as an overflow from the relationship, not a manipulation of it. Prayer is not asking. Prayer is living in the presence of God. Prayer is loving God and letting ourselves be loved by Him. We must learn that prayer is a love relationship. If it is anything else it is no different than the prayers of all other religions Ė it becomes merely an attempt to manipulate God for our own benefit. Only when we see prayer as a relationship can we understand the exhortation, Pray without ceasing." (I Thessalonians 5:17)

As I entered the school of prayer with Jesus as my instructor his first words, and only words for a year or more were, "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10)