The Call to be a Full Time Intercessor
The Lord is calling people to a full-time ministry occupation that I refer to as an intercessory missionary. I define an intercessory missionary as one who does the work of the kingdom from the place of prayer and worship, while embracing a missionary lifestyle and focus. Others may define this term in a different way. At Sarasota Hope House, as a rule, we ask those who embrace this full-time occupation of “intercessory missionary” to commit to 40 hours per week, including being in the prayer room for at least four hours a day, five days a week.
The New Testament Reference
Though the New Testament gives only a few specific ministry titles and job descriptions, it does present intrinsic values, such as winning the lost, caring for people, helping the poor, and praying. “Apostle” is the title with the clearest job description in the New Testament. We don’t find the title of senior pastor, marriage counselor, youth pastor, children’s pastor, or outreach pastor, etc. My point is that most of the titles we use in the Church today are not specifically mentioned in the New Testament.
The Bible doesn’t give a comprehensive list of ministries that the Spirit has used to meet the specific needs of every culture in the different generations throughout church history. The Church has liberty to name specific ministry focuses in a way that applies to their generation and culture, as long as biblical values are upheld.
Value of Night & Day Prayer
The four living creatures…do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy…” (Rev. 4:8)
Jesus exhorted us to pray that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Mt. 6:10). One aspect of God’s kingdom being expressed on earth as it is in heaven is worship. God’s desire to be worshiped on earth as He is in heaven has not changed. The Holy Spirit has not emphasized this globally through history, but now He is emphasizing it to some in many nations. The value of the worship around the throne is timeless. The applications of it on earth have differed in each generation and culture.
Intercessory Missionaries in End Times Prophecies
Isaiah prophesied concerning prayer ministries that would continue 24/7 until Jesus returns—this is when Jesus will restore Jerusalem as a praise in the earth. Isaiah spoke of the watchmen-intercessors the Lord Himself would appoint and set in place who will not keep silent day or night.
On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen [intercessors];all day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves; and give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth. (Isa. 62:6–7, NAS)
This clearly emphasizes that, in the end times, God will raise up 24/7 prayer ministries that will never be silent until Jesus returns. The 24/7 dimension of this promise implies that some intercessors and ministries are called to engage in this as a full-time occupation. God’s promise to appoint intercessors indicates that He will make a way for them to walk in this calling, which includes financial provision.
Isaiah is referring to New Testament believers (who will be on the earth when Jesus returns)—some will be full-time occupational intercessors. Their hard work in prayer is meant to serve and strengthen the prayer ministries in local churches in their region and to be catalytic by inspiring and supporting others in prayer.
Only one generation will see the fulfillment of God’s promise to appoint or set watchmen (intercessors) in place to cry out all day and all night until Jerusalem becomes a praise in the earth. This prophecy speaks specifically of prayer ministries being established by the Lord that will continue until He returns. Jerusalem will become a praise in the earth only after Jesus returns. At that time, all the nations will see Jerusalem as Jesus’ own city, as the city of the Great King (Jer. 3:17; Mt. 5:35).
Isaiah’s prophecy speaks of a “spiritual wall” of intercession from which the end-time watchmen-intercessors will cry out 24/7 for the release of God’s promises. Ezekiel also spoke of “spiritual walls” consisting of prayer (Ezek. 13:3–5; 22:30). God will establish end-time watchmen-intercessors in their place to function as a “wall of prayer.” These watchmen are to “make the wall” by standing in the gap in prayer before God and the people so that the land may be blessed instead of destroyed.
Are you grasping the gravity of this promise? Through Isaiah, God promised sovereignly to appoint intercessors and establish them in the work of intercession that will never stop until Jesus returns. This will include full-time occupational intercessors who will stand on the wall of intercession to cry out for God’s purposes for Jerusalem.
Shall not God bring about justice for His elect, who cry to Him day and night? He will bring about justice for them…When the Son of Man comes [second coming], will He find faith on the earth?” (Lk. 18:7–8, NAS)
In verse 8, Jesus connected the call to night and day prayer to the timing of His return to the earth. It is important to notice that this parable was given in conclusion to what He had just taught about the end times in Luke 17:22–36. In other words, He connected His release of justice in the earth during the end times to night-and-day prayer, and, in verse 8, Jesus referred to the generation in which He returns.
Intercessory Missionaries in the New Testament
Some ask where intercessory missionaries are found in the New Testament. My response, “Where in the New Testament do we find leaders who do not prioritize prayer—starting with Jesus, the apostles, and others?” The New Testament highlights others who gave themselves in an extravagant way to prayer.
It is easy to find leaders in the New Testament who were consistently engaging in prayer and the Word. Actually, it is difficult to find a precedent for leaders who neglect these. God’s kingdom work is accomplished in the place of prayer and outside of it. The three dimensions of missions work—continual prayer, mercy deeds, and sharing the gospel—must go together. Prayer causes the work of outreach to the lost and needy to be much more effective. Oswald Chambers said that “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.”
Other NT Leaders
They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship…and in prayers. (Acts 2:42)
…we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word. (Acts 6:4)
The Anna Calling
Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess…She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day…she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him [Jesus] to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem. (Lk 2:36–38)
Notice that Anna was a prophetess (v. 36), an intercessor (v. 37), and an evangelist (v. 38). The grace for prophetic ministry, intercession, and evangelism came together in one woman. Anna was widowed after living with her husband for seven years (v. 36), probably when she was in her mid-twenties, and that is when she began giving herself to night-and-day prayer. At 84 years old—approximately 60 years later—she was still doing it. Anna stayed faithful in her calling to long hours of prayer! What a remarkable woman! Anna represents those with the grace to sustain long hours of prayer for many years. Anna’s calling transcends gender and age—this calling is for male and female, young and old. I refer to some intercessory missionaries as having the “Anna calling,” by which I mean they have grace for much prayer and fasting.
Anna shows us the most extreme example of the intercessory missionary lifestyle in the New Testament. She probably spent more hours in prayer each day than what we ask our intercessory missionaries to do. In this very hour, the Lord is wooing those with a heart and calling like Anna to the full-time occupation of worship and prayer. He is personally appointing and setting them into their places. The Lord is calling forth modern-day “Annas” in churches and prayer rooms around the world. We must celebrate the “Annas” that God raises up as a great gift to the Body of Christ and the prayer movement. These individuals need to be called forth, recognized, and released by their leaders to obey their God-given mandate.