When God hears prayers from His people, He responds. What happens is that He dispatches His angels before, during, and after our prayers. It’s a dynamic, living sequence, repeated over and over:
- Angels usher in God’s presence and declare His intentions to people.
- As a result, Spirit-inspired intercession rises from believers.
- In response to the prayers, God releases His angels to deliver, protect, heal, and strengthen people, to execute His judgments, to reap and to gather, and to do whatever else He wants them to do.
Do you think about this when you pray? That prayer you prayed this morning may be the one that God used to mobilize an army of angels. This means your intercessory prayers are important! It also means that it may have been angels who helped you know what to pray before the word was on your lips. Angels can come to prepare the way for your prayers, to convey your prayers to heaven, and to execute the answers to those prayers.
How Are Angels’ Assignments Related to our Intercession?
We don’t hear as much about the relationship of angels to our intercession as we do about the intercession itself. I want to take the three points above and relate them to some specific types of angelic assignments:
- Angels usher in God’s presence and declare His intentions to people.”By definition, angels are assigned to minister the presence of the Lord. They usher in His glory. They connect heaven and earth. Sometimes we feel God’s glory and usually we don’t, but they never stop ushering it in.Another one of their stated functions is to be messengers pronouncing God’s will,although they’re not always as dramatic as they were in the skies over Bethlehem when Jesus was born: “In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:8-11, NASV).Angels may simply pronounce God’s will in the silence of your prayer time, dropping into your mind and heart the very thing that God wants to do—and that your inspired prayers can subsequently bring about. Angels sometimes release wisdom and understanding in dreams or visions. In a variety of ways, angels help to give guidance and direction to human beings, who are their fellow servants, earthbound and in need of heavenly assistance.
- As a result of having been ushered into God’s presence and learning His will, intercession now rises from believers.Angels are involved in our responses to God’s guidance. They are involved in our praise and worship. They come from the Throne Room, after all, where worship ascends perpetually. Angels worship with us, and they enhance our praises. Without their help to cultivate grateful, expectant, worshipful hearts, we cannot carry out our function as intercessors. Philip wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Phil. 4:6, NIV, emphasis added).Angels are divine watchers. They look into the historical affairs of humans. They mentor us in alert and prayerful watching. They tip us off when they see something. (See Daniel 4:13-17; Acts 12:20-23; 1 Timothy 5:21.) They also tip each other off, and they go to battle whenever the need arises. Angels are definitely involved in our spiritual warfare. We can’t stand against the devil without them.
- Response to our prayers, God releases His angels.Angels bring the answers to our prayers. They carry God’s provision from His storeroom. The angels bring deliverance and they bind demonic powers. They provide protection and strength to people. God uses them as His healing instruments. They execute His judgments. They are His reapers and gatherers. They stand ready to do whatever He wants them to do.
Five Foundational Premises
Another way of talking about it is to identify five foundational premises that underlie the truth that angels are intimately involved with our intercession. They are as follows: (1) Believers are co-workers with Christ; (2) God hears and answers prayers; (3) An innumerable company of angels is available; (4) Angels are involved in both the spiritual and practical affairs of humankind; and (5) Angels deliver God’s answers to people’s prayers.
- Believers are co-workers with Christ.Here is a phrase for you to remember: God’s resources are released by man’s invitation of intercession. We do not have a passive role to play. We are actively inviting God to get involved in human affairs, both small and sweeping. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (Jas. 5:16b, KJV).
- God hears and answers prayers.This is very basic; we absolutely must operate on this premise. God does not turn a deaf ear to our prayers. In fact, our prayerful intercession influences Him to advance direction and destinies of individuals and entire nations.
- An innumerable company of angels is available.Heaven’s army of the angelic host is waiting for its next assignment. Each angel is ready to be dispatched. Angels, in a manner of speaking, are unemployed—at least between assignments. They are waiting for our invitation in order to be released to most of their assignments.Nobody can count them, there are so many: “The host of heaven cannot be counted and the sand of the sea cannot be measured” (Jer. 33:22, NASV).
- Angels are involved in both the spiritual and practical affairs of humankind.Sometimes we think that angels are only involved in the hyper-spiritual stuff such as at Bethlehem, or at least protection from imminent danger. We are under the impression that angelic assistance happens only once in a while. I don’t think so. I know angels have preserved me from traffic accidents time and time again. (Somebody once told me, “James, you must have more squashed angels than anybody.”)Angels are servants, and they do practical tasks. Remember the story of Peter and the angel who came into his jail cell to let him go free? The angel woke him up and said, “‘Put on your clothes and sandals.’ And Peter did so. ‘Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,’ the angel told him” (Acts 12:8, NIV). That’s a practical assignment!
- Angels deliver God’s answers to people’s prayers.I don’t think we can differentiate between God’s direct answers to our prayers and His “indirect” answers, conveyed by angels. The angels are often His best option, and they are direct. They’re obedient; they’re fast; they’re powerfully efficient. They carry God’s love and His character. What more could you want?
The important thing is that God answers prayers. The “extra credit” part is recognizing that angels have an important role in delivering His answers.
Lord God, may the veil that separates the eternal from the temporal, the supernatural and the natural, keep on getting thinner and thinner! We welcome heaven’s army into our earthly sphere, into the regions over which we have been given jurisdiction. We call forth the angels who watch, who report, who heal, who deliver. We invite angels to join us in our praise and worship. We expect to see the outcome of the work of angels of breakthrough and protection. We enter into deep intercession, with worship. Awaken our senses. Today, send forth your angels to intervene in our lives, families, cities and nations. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
James W. Goll
(This article is an excerpt from chapter 10 of Angelic Encounters. Other materials to build on your understanding come from my God Encounters book and the Angelic Encounters Today study guide.)