Personal Holiness and Intercessory Prayer


by Mike Ratliff

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16 ESV)

Much of the spiritual bankruptcy of the Church in our day can be attributed to the dire lack of Biblical discipleship within the Body of Christ. It seems that little is heard of the necessity of being separate from the world and not be conformed to it. That, combined with most professing believers having a very shallow Bible knowledge, creates an environment with very little spiritual discernment and wisdom.

I used to have a prayer requests page on Possessing the Treasure. I had to take it off line. Why? It was receiving hundreds of “requests” a week from people wanting prayer so they could be rich, that they would not be convicted of some crime, that someone on which they had a crush would love them, et cetera. It was as if the prayer requests page had been hijacked by disciples of Benny Hinn. 

Through this I did become cognizant of the dearth of spiritual maturity running rampant in the visible Church. Prayer seems to be understood to be like a vending machine. It appears to be more superstition than genuine Christianity. Of course, there were some legitimate requests from those seeking intercessory prayer for the salvation of a loved one or courage to share the Gospel or for God to convict the Church of how far it has drifted from where it should be and for all believers to repent and seek personal holiness as we are commanded. I had some requests to pray that the one asking for prayer could repent of some sin and put it to death. I had no problem praying for these things my brethren. 

What has personal holiness to do with intercessory prayer? First let’s define what personal holiness is. When a believer is saved, they are regenerated. They are quickened. What was spiritually dead  and separate from God is now spiritually alive and knit with Him. The new believer is washed clean through regeneration. He or she now has faith which accords with God’s grace. Obedience to God is now possible, whereas, before this, the best the lost person can do  is as filthy rags in God’s sight. Even though the new believer is now alive in Christ, their remains the flesh and a years of bad habits which seek fulfillment through it. 

We must never forget that God created us to be fulfilled in Him alone. However, the lost person has no ability to know God so there is no possibility for this fulfillment. Therefore, we all grow up seeking fulfillment from what we do have. What is that? It is the flesh my brethren. Why do we seek entertainment so assiduously? We feed our craving for fulfillment through our emotions and by possessing things that we believe will give us a sense of gratification. However, at salvation we all are wonderfully changed. We now have the ability to know God and be fulfilled in Him. We can receive our Lord’s Joy and so we can be strong and fruitful. However, there is a problem. Those who are fruitful and content as they are being pruned (John 15) are the maturing Christians. The newborn Christians do not have the spiritual wisdom, discernment, patience, and stability to endure the fires of sanctification at the level the mature believer does. Therefore, since they have not developed the spiritual wisdom through exercising their faith, they are still more-or-less self-focused and self-absorbed. 

If these believers are not discipled and prayed for and helped by maturing believers then they will view their sanctification as if God has it in for them or he hates them or they must be doing something wrong. So, they turn from God and pursue things of the flesh for fulfillment just as they did before they were saved. I know this is how it can go down because I am describing my own journey here.

Sanctification is the process through which God removes His children from sin. They are made more and more holy as they learn to walk in repentance and be content to bear fruit as the Father prunes them. Part of this spiritual growth, this maturing and developing personal holiness, is learning that we can only walk forward with God as we worship Him with our entire being. As we learn to walk in repentance with Joy we worship Him. I don’t know about you, but the only way I can walk in repentance is by worshiping God and repenting of what He brings to my mind. This worship is not contemplative, which requires the emptying of the mind and disassociation with reality. No, this is simply being thankful and worshipful as we walk through the day. This is the process of attaining the mind of Christ so we can intercede. Worship and intercession must go together.

Intercession means that we rouse ourselves up to get the mind of Christ about the one for whom we pray. As we place our love and devotion on God, delight in Him as we seek His wisdom, what does He do? Doesn’t the Word of God promise us that if we draw near unto God that He will draw near unto us? If we do this we are worshiping Him, not being self-focused or self-absorbed or self-reliant. If we approach God in prayer and stumble all over the place in doubt then we are revealing the hardness of our hearts. This is the indicator that we are not worshiping God so we can intercede, but instead, are praying dogmatically and coldly. This is when we take the throne of grace for granted. The outcome is not pleasant. We become hard towards others because we are hard towards God. Tender hearts are the ones that know how to intercede for others. They know how because they have the mind of Christ and, therefore, His perspective. 

We must examine ourselves here. Are we so worshiping God that we rouse ourselves up to lay hold of Him so that we may be brought into contact with His mind and are then able to pray for others as He desires? If we are then we will find that we are living in a holy relationship with God. If we are not then we will be hard and dogmatic.

Some recoil at any mention of the commands in Scripture for us to be Holy as God is Holy. They claim that this is burdensome and makes us legalistic. Well, if we try to keep rules and such by will power alone then it sure will seem like that. However, if we pursue God in this relationship for His glory, worshiping Him with our lives, then we will seek His will in all things and we learn it by having the mind of Christ. Then we will be Holy as God is Holy, not perfect, but aware of what is sin and what isn’t. We joyfully attack our flesh and deprive it of what feeds it. We mortify our sins and learn to walk in repentance, full of joy, interceding for the Church, its leaders, and for the salvation of the lost ones all around us. 

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16 KJV)

Soli Deo Gloria






24 thoughts on “Personal Holiness and Intercessory Prayer

  1. Excellent article. It spoke volumes to me, concerning my own personal walk with God.

    We can gravitate so much towards feelings that we can forget at times what God’s word says. And He has the final say.

    Thank you.

    God bless.

  2. Mike What makes you think that the so called church that you speak of is or has been of GOD? Or can it be that the fruit of church (VISIBLE) is finally bearing it’s true fruit which is not of JESUS CHRIST. Just as JESUS CHRIST will say to many go away I never knew you!!! Not you went to the wrong church! Those who are led by the SPIRIT OF GOD are children OF GOD. That is HIS church those who hear HIS VOICE and follow HIM read John 10:1-16 ONE FLOCK WITH ONE SHEPHERD!!! Is it coming to the end because HIS people who are called by HIS name 2 Cor. 6:16-18,Hebrews 8:7-13 have not THE FAITH as you see in Hebrews 11:13-16. Is it that THE CHURCH HIS BODY has gone the way of Israel and have not obeyed HIS VOICE Hebrews 3:6-19. But have taken HIS WORD and made it our faith rejecting that we serve A LIVING GOD!!! Read Hebrews 12:25-29. We shadow HIS WORD with our understanding and denying THE POWER OF GOD by setting up our little kingdom’s (church’s) on earth?? There is NO OTHER foundation but JESUS CHRIST OR CHURCH 1 Peter 2:4-12 and Revelation 19:7-8. Mike you have a heart after GOD but do you think we’re not submitted with a WHOLE HEART TO GOD that would change this world just as our LORD did at PENTECOST that is to go into all the world but not blend with it. There is more to life than thinking we are mature and in our writing’s it is Romans 12:1-2 I urge you therefore,brethren,by the mercies of GOD, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice,acceptable to GOD,which is your spiritual service of worship.And do not be conformed to this world,but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you MAY PROVE what the WILL of GOD IS, THAT WHICH IS GOOD AND WELL PLEASING AND PERFECT. In LOVE because of MY LORD JESUS CHRIST JERRY

  3. My my you paint with a broad brush Jerry. So, there are no churches out there that are part of the invisible Church? That is what you are saying isn’t it?

    I have never taught that our fulfillment should come from our religiosity. Never! I have taught and will continue to teach that our fulfillment comes through our faith and obedience to our Lord. However, doesn’t the Word say not to forsake the gathering of the saints? Wouldn’t it be disobedience to just quit church? Jerry, we need to find the church that is directing its sheep to Christ alone and be part of it. We need each other, but those things cannot replace our personal holiness and intercessory prayer.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  4. Personal holiness and intecession. Who could find fault with that? Sometimes I feel like I am in the twilight zone, but that’s just me.

    Intercession is a labor, not some “Polly want a cracker” exercize in selfishness. I appreciate this post, may God raise up intercessors in His body.

  5. mike I thought the brush was narrow like THE NARROW PATH. And you started your article with bankrupt church. Okay which one of thousand’s? That is a broad brush. Surely it’s not the reformed church is it? And as for the gathering is to stimulate one another to LOVE and GOOD DEEDS Hebrews 10:23-25 not a man made lording it over you church which is the church today, read Mark 10:42-45 And one more thing I never said you it was always phrased in a question or we or us and what was wrong with that ? Can’t I ask you other than saying amen? I was trying to point out another point of view that was from my heart. Also trying to let you see in all that you write has the LORD JESUS CHRIST been the true LIGHT in which you write or has it been for another reason? I think that would be a reason to see if your holiness is personal and not godly and you should intercede by prayer for the LORD to shine HIS LIGHT in you to find out. When you answer back in attack form and condisendingly besides belittling. That’s were knowledge puffs up(ARROGANT) BUT LOVE EDIFIES in which is what WE are to do when gather together ( stimulate one another to LOVE and GOOD DEEDS) They will know us by our love ??? That is one thing the world does not know us by because we put ourself’s first and not like JESUS CHRIST a servant to all!!! HE became poor so we can become rich 2 Cor.8:9. One last thing the church is to busy playing church to let JESUS CHRIST led us because we are to busy with OUR point of VIEW. LOVE BECAUSE OF JESUS CHRIST MY LORD JERRY

  6. Jerry,

    You know, it would really help here if you would stop the innuendo and say what you are really trying to say. Also, just because you give me what is “on you heart” does not make it right.

    The broad brush comment was referring to your saying that THE WHOLE VISIBLE CHURCH was lost and not of God. That is what you said Jerry and that is what I was referring to.

    You are judging my motives. You are not the Holy Spirit. Only He can do that. You are not qualified nor is any man qualified to judge another’s motives. You have no idea what my prayer life is like or what I have to go through to put these pieces together. However you make the ASSUMPTION and imply that I do all of this for some spurious reason…

    I have gone back and read what I wrote to you. I was not “arrogant.” What I said to you was that you are mistaken about your concept of the Church. There are plenty of passages in scripture that refute your concept of the Church son.

    Lastly, it would really help me if you would break your comments up into paragraphs like I did in this comment. When you run it all together like you did it is hard to tell where you end one thought and start another one. Just a suggestion.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  7. Brother Mike,
    I don’t know if you should simply ignore what Jerry says. Maybe you should not, like I said, I don’t know, that’s in your hands.

    But I will say his comments are muddled, sort of humourous really. To me that is.

    I’m glad you understand him, because I’m not so sure what he is talking about.

    You must have a gift for interpreting tongues!

    But seriously, the article was beautiful. It spoke to me.

    God bless.

  8. mike Sorry to bother you. Doreen just proved my point and in what I said. You have your own and that’s what is pleasing to you. Like ALL the church;s. But I will not say you or they are going to hell all I can do is HOPE not. JESUS CHRIST IS LORD JERRY

  9. There is a woman in our fellowship who is dying of cancer. My prayer partner and I believe the intercessors among us should gather to ask God to heal her. However, neither of us has a sure knowledge of whether God wants to heal her. Do we gather and pray first for God’s heart on this matter or do we jump in and plead for her life anyway? So many doubt that God will do anything (like in Zeph ch.1).We know so little about wrestling in pray for others! Any insight would be appreciated.

  10. Julie,

    As I stated in the article those who pray for this woman should seek the mind of Christ then pray. That takes time and effort and sacrifice in drawing near to God and staying there until you receive an answer. How is this lady’s spiritual condition holding up?

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  11. She is the adult daughter of one of our ministers. She has been fighting cancer for years.Now the Drs. only give her weeks to live. She is weary of the battle and has lost heart. It seems to be another chapter in the spiritual battle our church has been in for the past 5 years.The family has gathered to themselves and are no longer even asking for prayer as far as I know. The minister has stepped away from his position for now.
    2 years ago our youth minister resigned after making sexual advances to one of the youth. 1 year ago our Sr pastor resigned under pressure. 6 months ago our minister to Senors and missions died of a sudden heart attack.We appear to be a dying church but I do not believe/feel God is finished with us!

  12. Julie,

    Your local body, your church, is definitely being tested. I have found that God is working the most in our difficulties. It may seem as if your church is coming apart, but it most likely means that God is strengthening your faith through you having to depend more and more on Him. Keep your eyes on the Saviour Julie and resolve to rejoice and praise Him no matter what your circumstances are. Things may not “get better,” but you will find a peace and spiritual depth that you never thought you could reach if you remain faithful.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  13. You have confirmed what I felt God has been saying during the past year of prayer for my church. Lesson 1 was that we were to offer a sacrifice of praise and give thanks always, lesson 2 was that God has frustrated our attempts to find another Sr.pastor because He wants us to be dependent on the Holy Spirit as our teacher and not have to gain our strength and instruction from a man. I rarely sleep through the night anymore as I feel called to get up and come into God’s presence at night. And I’ve had the fear of holy God renewed in me and find I am more sensitive to my sin than ever before. I keep thinking of Jesus seeing the money changing going on in the temple year after year and hating it but remaining quiet about it until God said it was time. Then He very deliberately braided a cord in preparation and FOUND His temper. I feel the patience of God over the sins of America is almost over. What a dreadful thing it will be to be in the hands of an angry God! May God have mercy on those called by His name!


    PS I am not unaware of your kindness in taking the time to respond to me. Thank-you!

  14. You are very welcome Julie. I pray that God will give you and your fellow believers in your church peace, joy, and wisdom. I see that He is already doing that.

  15. I was looking for sites that would talk about prayer, holiness and the local church, and came upon yours. I am so grateful for your insight and would like to be added to your mailing list, if you have one.

    I will be giving a Sunday School class on this subject and your article has been a great blessing to my life.

    Thank you and God bless,


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