Stand in the gap for someone | Faith
by The Press and Standard | March 17, 2019 5:00 am
Last Updated: March 13, 2019 at 8:48 am
Ezekiel 22:28-31(NIV) proclaims, “Her prophets whitewash these deeds for them by false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says’—when the Lord has not spoken. The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the foreigner, denying them justice. I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one. So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”
During the altar call in a church service, I have often heard pastors say to the congregation, “If you don’t need prayer, come and stand in the gap for someone else.” I knew what they meant, but I did not always know the story from whence this expression of “stand in the gap” originated. In this passage of Scripture, God shows the people the dreadful end they will have if they continued to follow such evil leaders and not call them to repentance. Therefore, God is seeking someone to stand in the gap for these leaders so that he will not have to destroy the land.
According to pastor and author Joseph Bayly of Christ Church, “standing in the gap” means three things: fighting against the enemies of God to protect his people, warning God’s people to repent of their sins and pleading with God to have mercy on his people.
Some people are so into themselves and what they are doing that they really do not have sense enough to realize that prayer is necessary in order to live the life of a Christian. Others depend on someone else to pray for them always. The prayers of mother, father, grandmother, and auntie are fine, and needed, but you must also learn to pray for yourself. God wants you to talk to Him and to make your desires known to Him. If it were not for others standing in the gap for some of us, Lord have mercy, where would we be right now?
If you are a true believer and you know that there are others who have a need, stand in the gap for them. As you observe and hear all that is going on in our world today, there are many nonbelievers out there. Stand in the gap for them. Their souls need saving, and it might just be your prayer that leads them to the altar. The Word says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26 ESV).
When the urge hits you to pray for someone else, do it. Don’t put it off because there could be a pressing need. Read and share this illustration, “26 Guards,” by an unknown author, and it should change your thought process about standing in the gap for others. A missionary on furlough told this story while visiting his home church in Michigan.
“While serving at a small field hospital in Africa, every two weeks I traveled by bicycle through the jungle to a nearby city for supplies. This was a journey of two days and required camping overnight at the halfway point. On one of these journeys, I arrived in the city where I planned to collect money from a bank, purchase medicine and supplies, and then begin my two-day journey back to the field hospital. Upon arrival in the city, I observed two men fighting, one of whom had been seriously injured. I treated him for his injuries, and at the same time, talked to him about the Lord. I then traveled two days, camping overnight, and arrived home without incident.
“Two weeks later I repeated my journey. Upon arriving in the city, I was approached by the young man I had treated. He told me that he had known I carried money and medicines. He said, ‘Some friends and I followed you into the jungle, knowing you would camp overnight. We planned to kill you and take your money and drugs. But just as we were about to move into your camp, we saw that you were surrounded by 26 armed guards.’
“At this I laughed and said that I was certainly all alone in that jungle campsite. The young man pressed the point, however, and said, ‘No sir, I was not the only person to see the guards. My five friends also saw them, and we all counted them. It was because of those guards that we were afraid and left you alone.’
“At this point in the sermon, one of the men in the congregation jumped to his feet and interrupted the missionary and asked if he could tell him the exact day this happened. The missionary told the congregation the date, and the man who interrupted told him this story: ‘On the night of your incident in Africa, it was morning here, and I was preparing to go play golf. I was about to putt when I felt the urge to pray for you. In fact, the urging of the Lord was so strong, I called men in this church to meet with me here in the sanctuary to pray for you. Would all of those men who met with me on that day stand up?’ The men who had met together to pray that day stood up.
“The missionary wasn’t concerned with who they were. He was too busy counting how many men he saw. There were 26!”
Keep standing in the gap for others. You may never know the reason. Just do it! God knows the reason, and that is all you need to know.
Have a wonderfully blessed week, and never leave home without Him!
(Anna Bright is a minister and educator in Walterboro. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)