The Heart of Intercessory Prayer

Reading Time: 5 Minutes

Isaiah 15 and 16 describe the pride and emptiness of one of Israel’s surrounding countries, Moab.

The chapters give us a glimpse of the heart of Isaiah, who knows God and has a broken heart for the Moabite people.

Self-Will on Display

Similar to Babylon (chapters 13-14), Moab is proud and arrogant.

We have heard of the pride of Moab
—how proud he is!—
of his arrogance, his pride, and his insolence;
his boasts are false.
(Isaiah 16.6)

Words that describe Moab’s pride seem to tumble over each other in an attempt to describe the extent of the nation’s false self-reliance.

To understand this kind of pride, think of military parades, nationalistic rhetoric, self-exalting slogans, imposing monuments, flag-waving, and the like.

Instead of a humble call to repentance and prayer, pride exalts planning, power, wealth, and self-sufficiency.

On an individual basis, this kind of pride is demonstrated by the headstrong attempt by humans to always get their own way.

God is nothing more than a “tool” to help them achieve their desires, rather than their Lord to be trusted and followed.

God’s answer to Moab’s pride is judgment. Isaiah speaks for God in an oracle about Moab.

Because Ar is laid waste in a night,
Moab is undone;
because Kir is laid waste in a night,
Moab is undone.
(Isaiah 15.1)

People serve false gods because they believe they can manipulate them to their advantage. When their world falls apart, they realize their false gods are exactly that, false.

This was true for the Moabite people.

When Moab presents himself, when he wearies himself upon the high place, when he comes to his sanctuary to pray, he will not prevail (Isaiah 16.12).

Wealth, military might, and even their gods are not able to help them in the face of God’s judgment.

We can be certain that God grieves over the destruction and downfall of a nation. Yet, there are times when destruction is the only option.

As Rudy Ross describes in our YouTube videos on Isaiah, God’s judgment serves like guardrails that keep the entire world from collapse. If God did not keep evil, pride, and falsehood at bay, humanity would have been destroyed long ago.

Isaiah Echoes God’s Broken Heart

In 1995 I attended a prayer and fasting meeting in Los Angeles. The well-known Christian leader, Kay Arthur, told the crowd that the Holy Spirit wanted to weep through us for our nation.

In a moment, I found myself on my knees weeping from the depths of my being along with the gathering of 3,000 people. This event was not an example of group psychology. Instead, it was God showing us his heart of love for a proud, arrogant, and self-sufficient nation.

Isaiah knew God’s grieving heart, as he prayed for Moab and the nations that surrounded the Southern Kingdom, Judah.

Therefore I weep with the weeping of Jazer
for the vines of Sibmah;
I drench you with my tears,
O Heshbon and Elealeh;
for the shout over your fruit harvest
and your grain harvest has ceased.

Therefore my heart throbs like a harp for Moab,
and my very soul for Kir-heres.
(Isaiah 16.9 and 11)

When we read the Old Testament, it may seem that God dishes out punishment without feeling the pain of the recipients. Isaiah’s and our experience in Los Angeles show us that God’s heart is deeply pained by necessary judgment on humans.

What took place in Los Angeles and what Isaiah experienced in Jerusalem is called intercessory prayer. People become aligned with God to such a degree that he is free to express his grief over self-destructive self-will.

Isaiah reveals two components of intercessory prayer.

(1) Isaiah had a profound experience of God and his character that transformed his life.

He knew that God was holy, just, faithful, and righteous. He was able to trust his life to God’s guidance and direction.

The prayers of Judah and the surrounding nations were different. Their prayers were full of self-interest. They knew what they wanted and attempted to use God or their gods as a “tool” to give them their desires.

Intercessory prayer seeks to know God’s will in a particular situation. Once that is determined, the intercessor prays for God’s will to be done.

Jesus summed it up best when he said, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15.7).

Isaiah lived in an abiding relationship with God and he aligned himself with God’s plans and purposes. Thus, he was effective in prayer.

We will be most effective in our prayers if we have a deep personal relationship with God and literally “feel with” him concerning the issues most important to him.

(2) Love is at the heart of intercession. Why did Moses weep for Moab? He did so because he loved them and was grieved to see their fate.

Love and faith are at the heart of intercessory prayer. If we don’t care deeply for people and God’s purposes, we won’t expend the effort to pray for them.

Faith is another component. If we don’t think prayer makes a difference, we won’t engage in it except for formal prayers in church or over meals.

On the other hand, if we love and believe in the effectiveness of prayer, then we will pray.

One of the reasons I have been studying Isaiah is to learn from him about the world in which we live. I believe Isaiah will show us God’s character and his will, so we can better pray for our world.

About This Blog

Rudy Ross is an excellent student of Isaiah. Rudy and I have a video you can see on the Bob Spradling YouTube Chanel.

Rudy will bring a different dimension to Isaiah than what is in my blog. I hope you will check out and enjoy my interviews with him.

I am indebted to a book by Dr. John Oswalt on Isaiah for his insights into this powerful book.

If you have a prayer request, please email me at bsprad49@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist prayer team will pray for you.

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