Dealing with Intercessory Overload
Today’s article is especially for intercessors. Intercessors carry a special burden for prayer before the Lord on behalf of God’s people and the nations. We are all called to pray without ceasing. But Intercessors are especially called to devote significant portions of their lives to prayer.
Because of this, Intercessors face unique spiritual challenges in walking out their call. One of the biggest challenges is in dealing with “intercessory overload.” And that is what I want to speak to today.
Intercessory overload is a result of our exposure to mass communication over the airwaves. Through modern mass media technology, information travels instantly around the globe. This information includes news of every calamitous situation possible at every level. Every day we are bombarded with news which includes rumors of wars, plagues, natural disasters, international instabilities, civil injustices, crime, evils, etc. etc. Calls for prayer go out for all these things. And each call believes in the supreme urgency of its own immediate cause for prayer.
At the same time we are bombarded through social media with similar news on the personal level. We hear of sicknesses and misfortunes of family and friends. Blogs filled with exclamation points cry out for prayer for so-and-so who was just diagnosed with cancer, and such-and-such that just happened to this neighbor or family member, especially children and babies.
The problem for Intercessors is that all such news and calls to prayer places on them a special sense of obligation to pray for whatever they hear about, no matter how small. In turn it fosters a sense of guilt if they don’t pray for what they heard about. And on top of this it fosters a sense of shame if they are unable to report back to the urgent inquirer whether or not the Intercessor actually did pray for the situation!
No true Intercessor can turn a deaf ear to a plea for prayer. Intercessors don’t even require a plea for prayer to feel a sense of obligation to pray. They feel that obligation whether or not a specific request to pray was tied to what they heard about. Yet, the numbers of calls for prayer or situations that engender a cause for prayer are staggering, creating an impossible burden on the Intercessor’s psyche. This burden becomes overload to the heart and mind, resulting in shut down and burn out.
Taking on the Lord’s Yoke
Mt. 11: 29 "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls . 30 "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
I Pt. 5:7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
It is here that the familiar verses above begin taking on unique meaning. Normally, these verses about the ease of the Lord’s yoke and the casting of our cares on Him are taken on the personal level. But for the Intercessor, they have special application.
Given the description of intercessory overload we have just walked through, the Intercessor’s burden is seen as anything but light. Instead, it is weighty and overbearing in the face of every piece of dire news that reaches the Intercessor’s heart. But what Jesus meant to be true for the individual believer in personal life He also meant to be true for the set apart Intercessor. When Jesus said “My yoke is easy and My burden is light,” there was not an asterisk with fine print beneath that said “*does not apply to Intercessors.”
The same thing applies to the casting of our cares on Him. I Peter 5;7 is not just about the rolling of our personal burdens on the Lord. It is also about the cares of the Intercessor under the burden of prayer. The Lord wants His Intercessors to learn how and why it is necessary to roll these burdens up to Him, and just what it means to do this.
The Role of the Chief Intercessor
Heb. 7:25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
As heroic and fully embracing of our role in prayer we might desire to be, the truth is there is only ONE man Who has been charged to bear the prayer burden of the whole world. That is of course our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the High Priest of our profession after the Order of Melchizedek.
In our quest to become conformed to Christ’s image, we have not been called to bear Christ’s load. There is a load which only He can carry. And every subsidiary load shared by His under-priesthood was intended to be rolled over onto Him to become part of His load.
This is why Christ’s yoke is a shared yoke and why His burden is a shared burden. The Lord has not given us “our own” burden or “our own” load. Every burden and load taken up by and appointed to us as Intercessor’s is a shared load subsidiary to the entire load of the Chief Intercessor.
For two long we Intercessors have been trying to carry the weight of the world’s prayer burdens upon ourselves. We have not shared the Lord’s burden nor cast our prayer burden upon Him. And this is why we have been subject to intercessory overload, paralysis and burn out. We have been trying to carry what is rightly His load as if it were our load.
The reality is that in all prayer burden, He is the owner of the burden. We are but stewards of a shared burden. We are not and never were designed to be owners of any prayer burden. We have inadvertently made that mistake, and it is time for us in these end times with their calamitous news to start giving back ownership of the burdens to Him before we die any further.
But if we agree to this in principle, what does it mean practically? How does this new light on the sharing of a stewarded prayer burden practically work to change how we pray so as to recover our rest in Him?
A Cry for Prayer is Not a Call to Prayer
Several principles will help us here on the practical side. The first is framed by the “heretical” caption of this section. Get this carefully: A cry for prayer is not a call to prayer.
This principle was first enunciated to me by a wise missions professor at college who taught us, “The need is not the call.” It is also embodied in the excellent little booklet Tyranny of the Urgent by Charles Hummel. There are billions and trillions of needs around the globe, but the mere knowledge of these needs does not constitute God’s call on us to try to go out to meet those needs. We must hear the Voice of God to us behind the news of the need for it to constitute a call.
The same thing is true for prayer. Just because a frantic call for prayer has gone out over the airwaves does not mean it is a call from the Voice of God upon us to pray into it.
Think about that word “airwaves” a minute Then think about the phrase “prince of the power of the air.” Who is the god of the airwaves anyway? We know from scripture it is the devil. Now follow on with this carefully.
In air warfare there is a thing called “chaff.” Chaff is a radar confusing counter measure where warplanes drop strips of aluminum into the air to cause enemy radar to see false targets by creating dots all over the radar screen, ultimately reducing radar to uselessness.
Many of the cries for prayer over the airwaves are exactly that: spiritual airwave chaff designed to confuse our intercessory radars, to get us to start shooting at everything and anything that moves with intercessory prayer, and to otherwise burn us out. Spiritual anti-radar chaff confuses and diffuses the prayers of the saints to waste prayer on targets that don’t even truly exist!
This is why we cannot just leap to prayer at every wind of news of calamity. We must test the spirits behind every cry for prayer and determine if the cry is real (not chaff) and then also determine if it belongs to our portion of shared burden, even if it is real.
Maintaining Spiritual Gaze Supremacy
Once we filter out the chaff of false prayer awarenesses, we still find numerous legitimate cries for prayer that are more than our heart can take on. To handle the legitimate cries, there are further principles we observe.
A second practical principle in preventing intercessory overload is to understand that no true call or burden to pray competes with our primary awareness of abidance in the Lord. Said differently, the Lord never competes with Himself for our attention. No prayer burden, however legitimate, may be allowed to interpose between our heart and the Lord’s Presence. Our awareness of the Lord’s Presence must maintain supreme governance at all times over our hearts and minds as we steward each and every call to pray for whatever. This is called the maintaining of First Love, and is what this ministry is themed on.
If we find calls to prayer intermeddling with our ability to retain a calm, clear heart awareness of the Lord in the river of life, then we must drop the prayer. Because at whatever point a prayer burden eclipses or threatens to eclipse our peace in the Lord, the object of that prayer becomes an idol. Sadly, much prayer in the kingdom of God is idolatry. I know this from personal experience.
“Passing the Buck” to the High Priest
The third and last principle I want to spell out here is the principle of “passing the buck” up to our High Priest and Chief Intercessor. What does that mean, really?
Passing the buck is simply moving from a “heart-on” approach to a “heart-reflection” approach toward awarenesses for prayer. In the heart-on approach (similar to “hands-on” approach), one engages and invests full direct consciousness into a matter of prayer. In the heart-reflection approach, one does not invest full direct consciousness into a matter, but opens the heart to become a “pass through vehicle” for that issue straight up to the Chief Intercessor.
The heart-reflection approach allows much more to be prayed for by immediate pass through to Jesus than can be prayed for when the heart and mind must fully invest attention into the issue. Yet in God’s sight, the heart-reflection approach counts for the same weight of value as the heart-on approach. That’s because the real pray-er is the High Priest Himself, and the more that can be reflected to Him from the heart rather than held up within the heart, the more is accomplished by His power.
Both the heart-on and heart-reflection approach are ordained of the Lord for us. Some burdens require heart-on attention. Others can be passed through via reflection straight to the Throne via the spirit, unweighed down or bottlenecked by the conscious investment. (One might compare the heart-reflective and heart-on prayer approaches to the difference between praying in the spirit and praying in a known tongue. The latter fully engages the mind. The former does not.)
The point is that prayer is not only defined by the heart on approach, which is what we all commonly think prayer means. And so we think that unless we’ve made the complete attention turning heart investment into the matter, we can’t say we have prayed about something. Not true!
The heart reflection approach to prayer is a vital effective approach that enables us to deal with all those outer pleas for prayer we still find valid connection to, but which we cannot possibly invest direct attention into which would cause us to burn out. Using the heart reflection approach to prayer allows us to be able to say we have prayed for a matter to that begging friend that just won’t rest unless they know we prayed about an issue, yet into whose affairs we do not feel called to fully invest.
Hopefully this brief article on intercessory overload will help intercessors regroup to be able to rightly steward their prayer burden to where they can truly feel the Lord’s burden as light to them, and not a ball and chain under the instantaneous knowledge of end time crises. We have not covered every aspect of this subject, but the few that are here can go a long way at helping you keep your spiritual poise and equilibrium in all things. For additional tips and principles on containing our intercessory burden, download our original article Dealing with Prophetic Intercessory Information Overload.
Blessings to all in the body who read this.
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
Page created May 26, 2015