We began the prayer rally as we had many times: I struck a chord on the keyboard, and away we went into exuberant praise and worship. The crowd followed along with hearty voices and uplifted hands.
Soon we found ourselves in a glorious place of intimacy with the Father. As the music played softly in the background, the pastor of the church hosting the prayer rally shared one of three prayer requests for that local body. Intercessors began to petition heaven on behalf of his request. As they sensed release, there was a seamless entry into more worship. This flow between worship and intercession continued during the entire evening of prayer.
David certainly knew the principle of worship and intercession. Sometimes we forget that during the depths of his despair, David would cry out to the Lord in song. Rather than just pray, he would sing his prayers to God. An example: "To the Chief Musician. With stringed instruments. A contemplation of David. Give ear to my prayer, O God, and do not hide Yourself from my supplication" (Ps. 55:1, NKJV).
The word prayer here is tephillah, which means "intercession by a hymn or prayer." When we marry worship with intercession, it does several things. First, it gets us in the proper place for intercession: "Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms" (Ps. 95:2). We are not praying to a piece of wood or stone. We have a living God who cares about us and who desires for us to be in His presence. So as we enter the throne room, we should come first as worshipers.
Second, in order to intercede, we must be in the proper position of worship before the Lord: "Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker" (Ps. 95:6). As we worship, we begin to realize our own inadequacy and God's greatness. If I cannot acknowledge how great my God is, then I can't trust that He is capable of granting my request.
Third, worship keeps us in His presence. We've discovered how things can get out of hand quickly during a time of prayer. Instead of focusing on the immediate request and discerning the mind of God, it's easy to "chase rabbits."
As the group gathers around to pray for a request, often several well-meaning brothers or sisters will talk the request to death. Instead of prayers, you will get opinions or evaluations. Worship keeps you and everyone else before the throne of God. It helps to focus on the Lord and not each other.
Try this during your personal prayer time or with your intercessors: Begin your time with worship until you sense you are in the throne room. Then, as you petition the Lord, blend your requests with worship. Don't just bring God a "Christmas list" of things you want Him to do. Raise your hands and your voice to heaven with worship. Wrap worship around your intercession and experience an intimacy with the Father like you've never known.
Rev 5:8-9 says: "Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: 'You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.'"
The intercessory cry in the DNA of worship must be allowed to flow. The elders in Revelation are pictured falling before the throne with a harp (worship) in one hand and a bowl of incense (intercession) in the other. When worship and intercession are wed, they produce powerful fruit. Dennis D. Wells is the senior pastor of Living River Church in Columbia, South Carolina. He and his wife, Susan, have three children, Daniel, Mary Catherine and Anna.