Wednesday, June 20, 2012
STANDING IN THE GAP
Several years ago following a surgery, I discovered anew how important it is to stand in the gap, or pray, for others. There were a few days when I felt very bad. I felt weak and helpless. Certainly my suffering (if it can be called that) was not on the magnitude of people who are dealing with terminal illness, yet I felt bad enough to allow me to feel empathy for those who suffer. There were several days that I did not feel like doing my Bible study or praying. All I wanted to do was just lie still and hope the day went by quickly.
Initially, I felt quite guilty for not feeling like spending time with the Lord, but after the Lord brought me through those days, I realized that He had reminded me of a very important concept—that of intercessory prayer or standing in the gap for others. I had many people say to me in the days after my surgery, “I am praying for you.” How those words blessed me because I knew that the person was faithfully praying for me at a time when I could not pray for myself. I also knew that those prayers were especially sweet to the Lord.
The prophet Ezekiel gives us the words of the Lord in Ezekiel 22: 30,
“I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.”
Although this verse deals with the sins of Jerusalem, I believe that we have permission to apply it directly to our lives. The is a very sad verse because Jerusalem was in a sad and horrible state and the Lord was saying through the prophet Ezekiel that He was searching for someone who would intercede for Jerusalem and do what was necessary for her salvation. When He looked He found no one who would intercede for the nation and the city.
There are times when we are in sad shape because of illness or life circumstances and we need the prayers of others to hold us up and encourage us. We may not even be able to pray in our own behalf because of our situation. That is when I believe God calls Christians to especially pray on behalf of others. This kind of praying requires commitment on the part of the person doing the praying. It is not just a quick one time prayer, but rather a request that is brought before the Lord many times until the person being prayed for sees results.
My intercessory praying has changed as a result of my experience. I consider it an honor and a duty to be able to stand in the gap for those who are unable, for whatever reason, to pray for themselves. It is my hope that you will take very seriously the honor that you have of standing in the gap and praying for other people.