The Intercessor’s Pain: Travail
Have you ever been praying in such agony of spirit that it felt like you were giving birth to a spiritual “baby”? If so, that was travailing prayer.
Travailing prayer can look and sound like different things. But no matter what your travailing prayer looks like, it is likely to hurt.
Travailing prayer is generally birthed out of love for the Lord or love for people. However, it’s not just a normal love that produces travail, but rather a supernatural spirit of intercession that sits upon you so powerfully that your love threatens to consume you.
Sometimes, travailing prayer is also birthed out of zeal for the Lord’s will — as it is written: “ … Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up” (John 2:17 NKJV). When you are consumed with zeal for the Lord and are desperately interceding for circumstances on earth to match what He describes in His word, that will produce travailing prayer.
We see travailing prayer mentioned in Romans 8:
“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26–27 NKJV).
The kind of travailing prayer mentioned in Romans 8 can often manifest in literal moaning or groaning — or even in deep tears with your prayers.
We read a striking story about travailing prayer of a different sort in the Gospel of Luke:
Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging. And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant. So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, saying, “What do you want Me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.” Then Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God (Luke 18:35–43 NKJV).
In this example of travailing prayer, the blind beggar knew that his situation did not match God’s will on earth. He was so consumed by the desire for God’s will to be manifest in his own situation that he could only cry out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And that is travailing prayer too.
Once, toward the end of an extended period of fasting and prayer, I awoke one morning in great agony of spirit.
The only words in my heart (and I knew they were planted there by Holy Spirit, the great Spirit of grace and supplication) were: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
I immediately got up and went to my prayer room, where the agony in my heart only increased. I knew that the Lord had put it on my heart to pray such because He was birthing something — but it hurt, and it hurt badly. All the pain of delay and disappointment hit me at once, and all I could cry out to God was that one line: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” My heart hurt so badly as I prayed this that my body was physically wracked with the pain of my spirit.
But you know what? He answered the cry of my travail.
He did have mercy on me. Why? Because His ears are attuned to the cries of His children. His ears are open to your cries and mine. Even though we may cry out to the Lord “all the more,” the Lord is still saying to you and me today: “What do you want Me to do for you?” And if we can answer in faith just like the blind beggar of old, then His answer to us is always the same: “Your faith has made you well; according to your faith be it unto you.”
Friend, what are you travailing for today?
What has wracked your spirit with such spiritual pain that you cannot help but push the “baby” out in prayer? No matter what it is, know that Jesus, the Son of David, King of kings and Lord of lords, will have mercy on you and help you. He is your ever-present help in time of trouble. And even though it hurts to travail in the spiritual birth process, you can know that you are in “miracle” territory.
You may feel like a blind beggar who doesn’t know what to pray, but keep praying the words that Holy Spirit has put in your heart. The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, and He will deliver you and have mercy on you.
Your travail is not in vain. Even though the spiritual birth process may hurt today, don’t give up. That “baby” is on its way; soon you will see it!
Does this word resonate with you today? If so, leave a comment below!
This article is part of a 5-part series. Find the other installments at the links below.
Part 1. The Intercessor’s Pain: Delay – Intercessors for America (ifapray.org)
Part 2. The Intercessor’s Pain: Travail – Intercessors for America (ifapray.org)
Part 3. The Intercessor’s Pain: Servitude vs. Sonship – Intercessors for America (ifapray.org)
Part 4. The Intercessor’s Pain: Rejection – Intercessors for America (ifapray.org)
Part 5. The Intercessor’s Pain: Misunderstanding – Intercessors for America (ifapray.org)
Jamie Rohrbaugh is the author of On-Time God: 14 Miracle Words and Prayers for RIGHT NOW. She is founder and CEO of From His Presence, a ministry dedicated to equipping God’s people in prayer, the prophetic word, living supernaturally, inner healing, and kingdom wealth. Her writing can be found on YouVersion Bible Plans, in Charisma Magazine, and on The Elijah List, Spirit Fuel, and various other ministry outlets. Download her free prayer tool, Praying the Names of God: 555 Biblical Names of God and How to Use Them in Prayer and Worship, here. Photo Credit: Canva.
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