Yesterday, we discussed the Hebrew word for intercession, which is paga. Let’s review. Like many Hebrew words, paga represents more of a general concept that can be applied to various scenarios. The concept of paga is of two or more people, places or things meeting, coming together, for pretty much any reason. Therefore, it is used in the context of: encounter, meet (in order to visit, request, attack, and more), land or light upon, boundaries (land joining or meeting), burdens being placed or laid upon someone” (1) and more. These meetings can even occur by chance - “to happen upon.”
Paga is translated as intercession, not because it means asking or petitioning - it doesn’t - but because intercession is meeting with God, creates meetings between God and others, meeting and attacking spiritual enemies, building boundaries of protection, etc. Looking at references where paga is used to describe various activities, regardless of the English word used to translate it, gives us different pictures of what intercession (paga) can accomplish.
In the account of Jacob’s God-encounter in Genesis 28:10-19, paga was used to describe Jacob “happening upon” Bethel. Yet, what was “by chance” to Jacob was not actually happenstance; God was directing him. And there at Bethel, Yahweh's covenant with his grandfather, Abraham, was extended to Jacob. A similar thing happens when we intercede. God directs us and causes our intercession to “land upon” the right place or person, releasing the covenant of the Lord into the earth. Yesterday’s post contains much more; if you did not see/hear it, consider checking it out.
Several other significant things can be seen in Jacob’s “meeting” at Bethel, which are valid pictures of what paga (intercession) produces. One of these is that God’s presence intensifies, and comes in greater strength. “Jacob declared in amazement, ‘The Lord is in this place…How awesome is this place’” (Genesis 28:16-17). In intercession (paga), an atmosphere is produced that is conducive for the presence of God. And, as Jacob said, God’s dwelling places are “awesome.”
Several years back, I knew a pastor in Walla Walla, Washington. When preaching a powerful message in one of his services, a young, new Christian became so overwhelmed with the revelation he could no longer contain himself. Leaping to his feet, he began loudly exclaiming, “Awesome, dude! Awesome!”
I’ve had a few “Amens!” and “Hallelujahs!” during my messages, but I’ve yet to receive an ‘Awesome, dude!’ I’m working on it.
I’ve experienced many life-changing encounters with God during times of intercession. I recall a time years ago when I was with an unsaved friend who had done a lot of LSD, a hallucinogenic recreational drug used in the 70s. He began having a terrible flashback - a recurring effect of this dangerous drug, causing strange and sometimes terrifying hallucinations. As this occurred, he writhed uncontrollably, screaming and moaning in terror. Suddenly, faith and righteous indignation rose up in me, and I began to intercede for him. After only a few seconds of prayer, the flashback stopped suddenly, and great peace came over him. He described the hideous images He had been seeing, and how the sudden change came when I prayed.
Then something unexpected occurred. God began ministering to me. His presence was thick and awesome as He spoke to me about the future ministry He was calling me to. This was in 1973, and the things He said to me have come to pass over the years. My “visit” with God took place, not in a church service or devotional time, but in a short session of intercession.
When we involve ourselves in the unselfish ministry of interceding (paga) for someone, God rewards us with His presence, He meets (paga) with us. He always loves our company, but when we begin to represent His beloved Son, His Father-heart is stirred beyond His ability to resist. He responds, and ordinary places become awesome places.
Many things can be said about the presence of God. In it, there is fullness of joy (see Psalm 16:11), safety (see Psalm 91:1-2), light (see 1 Timothy 6:16), and pleasures forevermore (see Psalm 16:11). Actually, all that can be said about God can be said about His presence, and intercession - meeting with God - creates it.
One of the fruits of His presence is what we discussed yesterday: precision and accuracy come to our prayers. Remember that paga can mean “landing upon or meeting by chance.” At times, we do not have enough wisdom, understanding, or insight to know exactly how to pray. Like Jacob here at Bethel, it’s almost as though we must “chance or happen upon” the right prayer. On these occasions, listen for Holy Spirit’s direction. He will help us, causing us to hit the mark.
A few years ago, while teaching an Old Testament course at a Bible College in Dallas, Texas, a student from Israel raised his hand and, when called upon, gave me great encouragement. I had mentioned paga - intercession - and the fact that Holy Spirit helps us hit the mark in our prayers. Using Hebrew words can be somewhat intimidating when doing so in the presence of someone who speaks it as their first language. My initial thought was that Avi might correct me. I was pleasantly relieved when, instead, he informed me that still today, while target practicing in Israel, one of the words for “bull’s-eye” is paga! Imagine that! The biblical word for “intercession” actually means bulls-eye.
God will do for us what He did for Jacob. When we “don’t know how to pray as we should” (Romans 8:26), He will help us hit the mark - the place - just as He did Jacob. I recall the story of Steve (not his real name), who was extremely ill with many different issues. Doctors could not solve the problems, and much prayer had been offered for Steve’s healing, also with no results.
One day Holy Spirit quietly spoke to an intercessor praying for him: “The problem isn’t physical; it is spiritual. Steve has unforgiveness and bitterness toward an individual who wronged him. Encourage him to forgive and release that person.”
Steve was able to do so, forgiving the person who had hurt him. The results were amazing! A process of healing began that didn’t stop until he was completely well.
Paga…bull’s-eye…Holy Spirit accuracy. The intercessor had “chanced” upon the problem. What she didn’t know, Holy Spirit did know; and He caused her to “land upon” (paga) the solution. That is paga, Spirit-led intercession.
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told us to end our prayers with “For Thine is the kingdom, power, and glory forever” (Matthew 6:13). The word “power” in this phrase also means “ability.” We have neither the inherent power nor the ability to accomplish what is needed in prayer. But our God does. Lean on Him for the ability to hit the mark.
Pray with me:
Father, just as You led Jacob to the right place, You sent Holy Spirit to lead us on our journey. Though we don’t always know what is needed in situations, He does, and has promised to help us. It is encouraging, Father, that the very word for intercession means “bullseye.” As we listen to Him, and also allow Him to pray through us, we will hit the mark.
Today, I ask You that for those participating with me, intensify Your presence, Your glory, with them even now. Meet with them, minister to them. Heal their bodies, encourage their hearts, minds and emotions. Let assurance flood over them as they meet with You for others.
And lastly, Father, we ask You to meet with our families; pour out Your Spirit on them. Meet with congregations, sending fire and power. Meet with our nation, cleansing and restoring it. And meet with other nations, sending awakening and transformation to them. We ask all of this in Christ’s powerful name and declare that Yours is the Kingdom, power and glory FOREVER! Amen.
We declare that we have ears to hear what Holy Spirit says to us. Therefore, we will hit the mark.
Portions of today’s post were taken from my book, The Essential Guide to Prayer, published by Baker Books.
Click on the link below to watch the full video.
James Strong The New Strong’s exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1990), ref. no. 6293.