Relevant Bible Teaching "Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth."
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The Nature of Intercessory Prayer
How important it is that we learn to intercede on behalf of others in our prayers! Nehemiah interceded on behalf of an entire nation, and God worked to restore its purity and dignity. Nehemiah, a Jew who was an advisor to the king of Persia, heard some heart-breaking news from a godly brother named Hanani. The Jews, who had been allowed to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple, were not living according to the Law of God at all, having given up on returning Jerusalem to a respectable state. When Nehemiah heard this, he immediately turned to prayer and became an intercessor. 

Here are 10 simple principles that we can glean from Nehemiah’s example which will enable us to become powerful and effective intercessors in prayer. 
Nehemiah 1:1-3
“The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah: Now it happened in the month Chislev, in the twentieth year, while I was in Susa the capitol, that Hanani, one of my brothers, and some men from Judah came; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped and had survived the captivity, and about Jerusalem.  They said to me, ‘The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire.’”
Principle #1: The Intercessor Is Practically Informed
Nehemiah understood the reality of the situation around him from a practical and circumstantial perspective. He knew what was going on, and he was aware of what needed changing.  He was not self-absorbed, but he was rather thinking about the needs of his people.
Principle #2: The Intercessor Is Spiritually Sensitive and Discerning
Nehemiah wept over the state of things in Jerusalem. Seeing his brothers starving and in disorder bothered him, but what really broke his heart was the fact that these were God’s people. In addition to knowing the earthly reality of circumstances and being aware of needs, Nehemiah thought from the perspective of God, thinking what God would think of all of this and how He would feel. This sensitivity, spiritual perceptiveness, and discernment are what a burdened intercessor must feel, sense, and understand. 
Nehemiah 1:4
“When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.”
Principle #3: The Intercessor Turns to God Immediately
Nehemiah didn’t catch the latest sports scores and eat a few munchies before entering into some ritualistic prayer because it was the right thing to do. He immediately, upon hearing the news, went to God in prayer. Likely, he dismissed Hanani, thanking him for the news while choking back the tears, and then rushed to his private quarters, finding a quiet place to call upon the Lord. The intercessor allows himself to feel the emotions and the full reality of the situation, and he doesn’t hesitate to stop everything and bow the knee in prayer. 
Principle #4: The Intercessor Tarries In Prayer
Nehemiah prayed without stopping to eat. Scripture seems to indicate that he didn’t sleep either (v. 6). What is clear is that he prayed continually for days on end. I imagine that he got permission from the king to do this so that he didn’t fail in his responsibilities, but he cast himself before God’s presence until he was sure about what he should do. 
Nehemiah 1:5-7
“I said, ‘I beseech You, O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have sinned against You; I and my father's house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses.’”
Principle #5: The Intercessor Accepts Responsibility on Behalf of Others
The intercessor himself might not be guilty of the particular sin which he confesses on behalf of his people, his church, or Christians in general. What intercessors do is act as those who go between God and those who have sinned. Just as Jesus interceded for us by bearing the penalty of sin on our behalf, so we are to put ourselves in the place of responsibility so that we can beg God to forgive and restore others who have sinned. 
Principle #6: Intercessors Understand the Gravity of Sin
Nehemiah didn’t push the blame for the Israelite situation in Jerusalem off on anybody else. He knew that ultimately their dire state was not because it didn’t rain enough or because their economic strategies were wrong. It was because they had sinned before God, and God had disciplined them accordingly. If God is withholding His blessing upon the church, Christians had better do what Nehemiah did and look to the state of the hearts of the people of God. Intercessors acknowledge sin and confess it.
Nehemiah 1:8-10
“Remember the word which You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among the peoples; but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell.’ They are Your servants and Your people whom You redeemed by Your great power and by Your strong hand.”
Principle #7: Intercessors Appeal to God According to His Character and His Promises
God doesn’t forget His promises, but it is just that some of His promises are conditional. For example, the promise in 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 of restoration, healing, forgiveness, and blessing is conditional upon God’s people repenting, praying, humbling themselves, and seeking God’s face. Nehemiah in v. 5 reminds God (and ultimately himself) that God is a covenant keeping God and a merciful God. God has made promises to Israel to multiply them and bless them, so Nehemiah is appealing to those promises of God in his time.  Intercessors are mindful of how God has worked powerfully in the past, and they are encouraged to pray that God will act powerfully in their time as well. 
Nehemiah 1:11
“‘O Lord, I beseech You, may Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and the prayer of Your servants who delight to revere Your name, and make Your servant successful today and grant him compassion before this man.’  Now I was the cupbearer to the king.”
Principle #8: Intercessors Beg for God to Listen and Act
Intercessory prayer is burdened and urgent. The intercessor is desperate for change and for answers from God, pleading with Him for wisdom, direction, and grace. He knows that there is no hope apart from God answering and working. 
Principle #9: Intercessors Are Glad to Join Hearts with Others Who Share Their Burden for Change
Nehemiah understood rightly that other people were praying for the nation of Israel also. There were other men who shared his burden, and he gladly acknowledged that fact. Intercessors will stand alone if they must, but they will also readily join hands and hearts with others of like mind and burden. 
Principle #10: Intercessors are Led to Action
The intercessor avails himself to do whatever God needs to be done to cause the needed change. He not only assumes responsibility by interceding on the behalf of others due to their unfaithfulness, but he surrenders himself in the process to be an instrument of God in the corrective working of God. That things would stay as they are is in no way an option for the intercessor. He waits for God to lead him in the next step that he should take. 
Intercession is not a ministry for the faint of heart but rather for the tender and courageous of heart. Those who are touched by the reality of surrounding unfaithfulness are likely to intercede. They are willing to do whatever God will lead them to do, and they are totally open to His leading and direction.  When God touches their hearts, they pray immediately, fervently, and as long as they need to. They are willing to stand in the gap on behalf of others. They understand their need for God and have a total reliance in the power of prayer. They believe that God can do exceedingly beyond all that they could ask or imagine, and they are people whose faith leads them to prayer and whose prayer leads them to action.