But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness…
Matthew 6:33 NASB
When I first began to learn about intercessory prayer, I read, The Beginners Guide to Intercession, a book by Dutch Sheets. He said he thought of his prayer times as courting God. He used the example of when he first began courting his wife, Ceci. He was so in love with her that everything else paled in comparison. He thought of her when he woke up and still was thinking about her when he went to sleep. Courting God is to seek intimacy with Him and to put Him ahead of everything else…people, money, success, entertainment, etc. Our intercession should come out of that intimacy we have with the Father. In other words, it’s more important to know God than it is to pray out of a sense of duty or what we can get out of it. Our whole motivation for praying must be relationship with God. Paul said Christ’s love (and possibly his love for Christ) compelled him (2 Corinthians 5:14).
If our primary motivation for praying is interceding for our prodigal, either because we think were supposed to or even because we want to, we will eventually begin to feel used. We will pray out of a sense of obligation and it will be performance-based or legalistic. There will be no joy and we will not be connecting to our Father.
If we primarily pray to get our need met to have our prodigal return, we are in a sense using God. We’re only praying because we need something from Him. Again, the relationship is absent and will kill any joy or connection to the Father.
Intercession should be about relationship. It should be about partnering with God. We can be friends with God. It reminds me of a song I used to sing, “I am a friend of God”. Jesus was teaching His disciples toward the end of His ministry when He knew He would be leaving them soon. He said, “I know longer call you servants…Instead, I have called you friends,” (John 15:15). Developing that friendship and intimacy with God should be our first priority. Our intercession comes out of that relationship. We know the Father and we are going to Him to spend time with Him.
Think of a close relationship that you have. You are more comfortable with that person. You are bolder because you don’t fear rejection. You want to spend time with them. Abraham is a good example of this. Remember when he pleads for Sodom. He boldly speaks to God:
The men turned away and went towards Sodom, but Abraham remained
standing before the Lord. Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will
you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are firty
righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare
the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it?
Abraham continues this conversation with God until he was asking God to spare the city for ten righteous people? Ultimately Sodom was destroyed, but God spared Lot and his family. We do not know if this would have happened if not for the conversation Abraham had with God. In James, we learn that Abraham was called God’s friend (James 2:23)
So, whether you are courting God or building that friendship with Him, remember that is your priority, not only what you can get out of it and not only what you are doing for God. You are doing it together!