You might have heard people say “I stand in the gap” when praying for people. But what does this phrase mean? What is this gap in the Bible? What does it have to do with prayer?
The phrase “to stand in the gab” stems from Ezekiel 22:30 in which God is telling His prophet that He found no one who would stand up in prayer on behalf of the land. On that Bible verse, Christians base an intercessory practice of praying on behalf of someone else.
Let’s look at some detailed examples together.
What Does The Phrase “To Stand In The Gap” Mean
The term “stand in the gap” comes out of Ezekiel 22:30. God is telling His prophet:
“So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.”NKJV
A dictionary definition defines the term like this:
“to expose one’s self for the protection of something; to make defense against any assailing danger; to take the place of a fallen defender or supporter.”TheFreeDictionary.com
I believe this strongly supports the point God makes in Ezekiel 22:30.
God was basically looking for someone who would expose him-herself for the protection of the land.
God was wanting someone who would make a defense against the upcoming judgment for the sins of the leaders.
He longed for someone to take the place of His people before God and make supplication for their rebellion.
What Is The Gap In The Bible?
The gap in the Bible as described in Ezekiel 22:30 is the spiritual and figurative gap between God’s people and God himself that resulted because of sin.
When you read the context of Ezekiel 22:30, it is a rather sobering and intense chapter of the Bible (Ezekiel 22) indicating what the gap is.
God is listing the sin of His people.
Bloodshed, mistreating the poor and the needy, all kinds of perverse sexual behavior, despising God’s holy ordinances, making profit through extortion, the list goes on and on.
On top of that the spiritual leaders, their prophets and priests, lead the land in all this sin, speaking in the name of the Lord, when it actually isn’t God speaking through them at all.
God adds to the list saying, you “have forgotten Me”. (Ezekiel 22:12)
God is talking about His people sinning.
They are turning away and letting it happen by not standing in the gap.
This is like okay-ing the world’s behavior, calling evil good and good evil.
In Verse 30 God says He looks for someone of His people to plead with Him so that God would not destroy them.
Wow… How hurt God must have felt.
Again, Israel – God’s people – is far, far away from the Lord.
He asks them if they can stand and endure it when He will deal with their unrighteous and unfair behavior.
The Lord sought someone who would rise up on behalf of the land to stand in this gap between God and the people.
This gap is the spiritual and figurative gap between God’s people and the Lord himself that broke open because of sin.
It is a gap in the relationship with God.
God was pushed aside for idol worship, demonic practices, and unrighteous behavior.
We can see several examples in the Bible where men of God actually heed the call of God to stand in this gap for their people.
How Moses Stands In The Gap
One of the examples of standing in the gap is Moses pleading with God because of Israel’s sin of worshipping the golden calf.
In this instance, he stands in the gap for Israel three times for the same issue.
In Exodus 32:11-14, 31-32; 34:9 you can see Moses reminding God of His promises for His people and repenting on their behalf.
Psalm 106:23 says, “(…) Moses His chosen one stood before Him in the breach, To turn away His wrath, (…)”.
Because Israel sinned there was a relational gap, a breach between God and His people.
It was so hurtful to God, that He wanted to remove them.
But Moses realized lip service or religious practices wouldn’t solve the problem because it was about a relationship that needed to be restored.
So, he stepped into this gap in prayer. He repented and pleaded with the Lord.
That’s why God forgave Israel in His mercy and even renewed His covenant with them.
How Jesus Stands In The Gap
Another example of standing in the gap between sinful people and God is Jesus.
“Obviously”, you might think.
Yes, he did stand in the gap between God and us for the forgiveness of the sin of the world, so that we would not die and eternally perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
When He was hanging on the cross barely breathing and half-dead, He stepped into the breach between God and humanity praying, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34).
He took all sin of the world upon Him, he became sin and became the curse. (2 Corinthians 5:21, Galatians 3:13)
He did it so that you and I could have the chance of coming back into a real relationship with Father-God in heaven.
How loving and forgiving God’s heart is that He lets us plead with Him.
How To Stand In The Gap
When standing in the gap it means you are praying for someone else.
This person might have a specific need like needing to be saved and would usually not pray on his/her behalf like that.
This type of prayer is also called intercession. You are bridging the gap in prayer, standing in the breach between God and the person or people, but in the authority of Jesus.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 says,
“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”NKJV
It is so vital to intercede because God desires that all men (and women) would be saved and know the truth of God.
So how would we do this?
1. Repent and release forgiveness.
When standing in the gap for someone I usually pray exactly this out loud reminding myself and God of Ezekiel 22:30.
I would say, “I’m standing in the gap for blank. Lord, I ask you for the forgiveness of our sin.”
You might also want to mention specific sins as well.
Remember, it is our sin that you repent for.
You identify to some degree with that person, acknowledging that you are not better than them and in this thing together before God.
It’s about pleading with God for the forgiveness of sin and the salvation of that person.
2. Do spiritual warfare: Binding, breaking, & loosing
I believe in the gap you have a unique authority in the spirit before God and the person you pray for.
For it is not by your own might nor by your power but by His Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6). You are entering into a powerful spiritual realm.
That’s why I always do spiritual warfare for this person. I would bind demonic spirits in the name of Jesus that either God reveals to me or come to mind, or I know of.
A curse without a cause cannot come (Proverbs 26:2). Therefore, breaking curses and any other demonic activity has a powerful effect.
You want this person saved and free, right? So, fight for him/her!
In prayer lose the blessings that you know God wants to pour into this person’s life.
You might also want to specifically Pray for healing and deliverance if needed.
I made a whole article where I wrote out a whole prayer for healing and deliverance for you.
You want to bind and break any oppression and sickness and cast it out in the name of Jesus. (Learn more about deliverance here.)
Release God’s healing and restoration.
Always remember, a prayer of any kind moves the Hand of God.
So, have faith, be bold, be keen, and stand in the gap in the confidence that there is forgiveness, healing, deliverance, and restoration in Jesus Christ.
Some Personal Thoughts
The world does what the world always did. But God is looking for His people to do something about it.
As of this moment where I am writing this article we are in the midst of the historical COVID-19 pandemic.
When I read the whole chapter of Ezekiel 22, I was moved to tears, because I felt like it describes the state of this world and parts of the Church at this very moment.
Please stand in the gap with me for the world and their sin to plead with God that in His wrath He would remember mercy.
I know this season too shall pass – and maybe already has been by the time you read this article.
But I also believe God is watching very closely on how His people are reacting to this crisis and to any crisis we are really going through.
There are only two ways to go about it.
Either we chase God, to stand in the gap for our sin and the sin of our people. Or else we are going to be chased…
Oh, I pray that you would heed the call of God right now and rise up to stand in the gap.
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