The story of Esther gives us a clear picture of how intercession works. In the story, Queen Vashti was divorced from King Ahasuerus because she refused to dance before the king and his guests at a banquet. Later, after the king’s anger had subsided, a search was made for a new Queen. Esther was chosen, and the king loved her.
Soon afterwards, King Ahasuerus appointed a man named Haman as Prime Minister; and as the king commanded, all the king’s officials were to bow down to him. But Mordecai, who was Esther’s cousin and the one who reared her, refused to bow down to Haman because of his Jewish faith. Upon hearing this news Haman was furious and immediately began to plot the destruction of all the Jews, out of which a decree was issued and signed by the king that all Jews would be killed on the 28th of February of the following year.
When Mordecai and all the Jews heard of the decree, they were shocked and in great despair—they wept and mourned and fasted. Then Mordecai sent a message to Esther that she must plead before the king for her own life and for all the Jews.
But Esther sent word back to Mordecai saying that if she came before the king without being summoned she would be put to death unless he held out his golden scepter to her.
But after Mordecai reminded Esther that she risked death either way, she decided to go before the king. And so, on the third day of a three-day fast by all the Jews, Queen Esther put on her royal robes and boldly went and stood before the king. When the king saw her, she obtained favor in his sight, and he held out to her the golden scepter.
Well, to make a long story short, Queen Esther requested that she and her people be spared; and the king granted her request by writing a second decree giving the Jews the authority to unite and defend their lives against the certainty of the first decree (for a kings decree in those days could not be broken).
Now, King Ahasuerus, who was lord over his entire kingdom, may symbolize God. Haman, who was the villain, represents Satan. Queen Esther, who stood in the gap for her people, is the intercessor. Mordecai fills the role of the Holy Spirit, because he communicated the will of God to Esther.
As we observe these characters in the story we see how intercession works. It is always the same. God the Father, like King Ahasuerus, sits on His throne waiting to hear our petitions. He will extend the scepter to us if we will be bold enough to enter. Satan, like Haman, is always trying to destroy God’s people. But like Esther, we can be the one to stand in the gap for those whom Satan is trying to destroy. When we go to pray, just as Esther listened to her cousin Mordecai and heeded his council, we must listen for the instruction of the Holy Spirit. He will show us who to pray for and how to pray. He will draw us to the throne of God.
I just want to make one more observation. Esther was welcomed to approach the throne of the king, and her request was granted because of a previously developed love relationship. As God’s children, we are always welcomed to approach His throne. But if we are to get God’s ear and to get Him to give us the things we desire, we must practice a steadfast abiding relationship with Him. For, as John 15:7 says, if we abide in Him and His words abide in us, we may ask whatever we wish and it shall be done for us.