Exploring Prayer With
By Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
Chapter 39 — Priests and Intercessors
I Timothy 2:1, "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men." I Peter 2:5,9, "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light." Isaiah 61:6, "But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves." Revelation 1:6, "And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."
Most of this study deals with praying for our own needs, or selfish praying. This is not bad. The Lord tells us to ask what we will. He tells us to bring our desires to Him, and certainly as His children we have a right to do so. However, there is another form of praying, and that is intercessory prayer, or praying for the needs of others.
So often we hear such statements as, "We Christians are priests; we can come to God for ourselves." The latter part of this statement is accurate. We CAN come to God for ourselves; however, that does not make us priests. The work of a priest is to mediate for others. Now as a child of God a Christian has a right to come to God for himself. There is, however, a priestly work that the child of God can enjoy, and that is when he intercedes for others at the throne of grace.
A priest received from the people their sacrifices and presented them to God. Hebrews 5:1, "For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins." Deuteronomy 10:8, "At that time the LORD separated the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the covenant of the LORD, to stand before the LORD to minister unto Him, and to bless in His name, unto this day." Deuteronomy 21:5, "And the priests the sons of Levi shall come near; for them the LORD thy God hath chosen to minister unto Him, and to bless in the name of the LORD; and by their word shall every controversy and every stroke be tried." Deuteronomy 33:10, "They shall teach Jacob Thy judgments, and Israel Thy law: they shall put incense before Thee, and whole burnt sacrifice upon Thine altar."
Under the Levitical system, being a son of Aaron (the high priest) made the priesthood accessible. However, just being a son of Aaron was not enough. Even a son of Aaron could not do the work of a priest without a special ordinance. In other words, being Aaron's son gave one access to the priesthood, and no one could do the work of a priest unless he was a son of Aaron, but being a son of Aaron did not in itself allow one to enter into the work of the priesthood.
Every Christian has access to the priesthood simply because he is saved. As a Christian he is a child of God and only children of God can enter into the priestly work of praying for others, but one is not doing priestly work just because he is a child of God.
In Leviticus 8 and Exodus 29 we have instructions about the setting aside of the priesthood. Among other things, Aaron's sons had to be washed, clothed, anointed with oil, have sacrifices offered on their behalf, have the blood applied, and have their garments sprinkled with blood and oil mixed together. They had to be free from contact with death and defilement, and no inheritance of other tribes would be theirs.
There are some beautiful pictures here of our Saviour and our salvation. For example, the anointing with oil and the application of the blood was first done to the lobe of the right ear. Then it was applied to the thumb of the right hand and then to the big toe of the right foot. This is so beautiful in that it pictures so vividly our salvation. First, the application was on the ear. This is the way the Gospel comes to us. Romans 10:17, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." We hear the Word of God. Then the application was made to the hand because once we hear the Word of God we must receive Christ as our personal Saviour. This is followed by the application to the foot because when we hear, we are to receive; when we receive, we are to go and take the message to others.
After the ceremony, the sons of Aaron became priests. They were his sons before they became priests. Sonship gave them access, but there had to be a special ordinance before they could do the work. Sonship with Christ gives us access to the throne of grace in order that we may interceded for others as priests of God, but we ourselves must decide to do the work of the priesthood by taking advantage of our access to the throne of grace to plead and intercede for others.
At this writing my mother is 94 years of age. For years she has been a priest, interceding for her son as he travels and as he preaches.
First Baptist Church of Hammond has many dear shut-ins. Some of the sweetest saints in the family of God are those dear people who call me Pastor whose world is a room, whose sky is a ceiling, whose horizon is a wall, whose grass is carpet, and whose sunshine is a window; yet, I am constantly aware that these dear, sweet saints of God are my priests. They pray for me; they intercede for me as they do for others in the work of God.
Several years ago a lady came to Hammond to live. She had been a pastor's wife. God had taken her husband home to heaven. She had heard of our ministry and loved our work, and the Holy Spirit led her our way. Her name is Mrs. Bartel. She is a very important priest to me. We provide her with a little apartment in our church building, and she is my prayer warrior. My secretary gives her a list of my speaking engagements. She knows where I am speaking, what day I am speaking, what time of day I am speaking. This enables her to pray for me all the time I am preaching. I never stand anywhere in America to preach without the awareness that Mrs. Bartel is interceding for me, asking God to give me strength and power as I preach. She is a priest, not because she is a child of God. She has access to the priesthood for that reason. She is a priest because she had chosen to take advantage of the access that being a child of God gives her to the throne of grace.
So often when I am sitting on a platform somewhere across America or around the world ready to preach, I will find myself with moistened eyes and a glad heart simply because I am aware that it is bedtime back home. I think of all the little boys and girls who are bowing their heads saying, "Dear God, bless my Preacher. Give him power while he preaches and bring him back home safely." I think of all the men whose bodies are weary and tired from a day of toil who are bowing their heads before retiring asking God to bless their Preacher and watch over him while he is away. I think of all the ladies at the close of the day harried by a busy day of activity who pause to say a prayer to God for their Preacher, who is away. They are my priests interceding for me. Thank God for all of them! They are a part of the work and contribute a vital part to my ministry and all the victories that are won where I am serving God. They are my partners! They share with me in the victories now and will share in the rewards later.
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