“To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you.” (Daniel 9:7 ESV)
In part one, Daniel understood something distinct from his reading of the Word. In part two Daniel sought the LORD in prayer, sackcloth, and ashes. Now, in part three, Daniel puts it this way, “speaking, praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people. . .” (v20), Daniel identifies with his people. Daniel confesses his sins and the sins of his people. To do this, Daniel identified with all those for whom he prayed. He takes upon himself a spiritual form of everyman. He is Israel. Israel’s sin is his sin. G-d will cleanse him, and at the same time, Israel will be cleansed as well.
We may identify with others, too, in order to intercede for them.
My twelve-year-old daughter informed me yesterday that she is getting ready for a “blind day.” She plans on spending the day sightless, eyes covered with a blindfold. Why? She wants to know what it would be like to be without eyes. Exercises such as this are done occasionally in church youth groups to help develop empathy by identifying with a person or group of people. Now empathy is an interesting word that comes to English from Greek. It is a combination of words meaning affection plus suffering. The dictionary defines empathy as: “the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.”
In his biography of Rees Howells, “Rees Howells Intercessor,” Norman Grubb tells a story of one of Mr. Howells experiences with identifying with a group of people for which he felt G-d impressing upon him to pray. Mr. Grubbs wrote: “In all this the Spirit was leading [Rees Howells] more and more into the secret of intercession—the identification of the intercessor with the ones for whom he prays. He had called him to associate with Will Battery, which had touched his pride. He had made him responsible foe the debts of Jim Stakes, which had toughed his pocket. How He called him to share in the physical sufferings of the destitute, which would touch his body. He was to learn a little how to feel as they felt and sit where they sat. Tramps did not have the plentiful food that other people have, and God called him to come down to their level. The Government lodging houses provided two meals a day for tramps, and the Lord told Rees Howells to live in the same way. . .”
In another place in the biography of Rees Howells, Mr. Grubb wrote: “Perhaps believers in general have regarded intercession a just some form of rather intensified prayer. It ism so long as there is a great emphasis on the word “intensified”; for there are three things to be seen in an intercessor which are not necessarily found in ordinary prayer: identification, agony, and authority.”
When we pray for people, we are praying not for a people out for a Sunday stroll; often we pray for people in the midst of intense anguish and despair, even if it is an invisible anguish, held inside. To understand them we must identify with them. When we identify with them, we take upon ourselves some of the struggle, some of the anguish. At some point in the process of interceding, we reach a final position—a position of authority. Our prayers are then mature, bold, in that particular area of intercession.
Lord, have mercy upon us, allowing us the privilege of identifying in people’s struggle and anguish, and rescuing us from it once we have attained the position of authority in which we may truly, intensely pray. AMEN.
Lord Bless, Keep, Shine. . .