Prayer is an integral part of the Christian faith, and it is how we communicate with God. It is an act of worship, gratitude, and reverence towards God. In prayer, we acknowledge our dependence on Him and seek His guidance, comfort, and protection. However, there is another type of prayer that is just as important – intercessory prayer. Intercessory prayer is praying on behalf of others, and it is a powerful way to love and serve others.
Many people wonder about the difference between prayer and intercessory prayer. While prayer is communicating with God, intercessory prayer is praying for others. Intercessory prayer is a selfless act of love and compassion that involves standing in the gap for others and asking God to intervene in their lives. It is not just limited to our loved ones but extends to anyone in need, including our enemies. In this post, we will explore the difference between prayer and intercessory prayer, why intercessory prayer is essential, and how we can pray intercessory prayers effectively.
As Christians, prayer is not just a religious duty but a vital part of our relationship with God. It is how we express our love for God and seek His will for our lives. Intercessory prayer takes this relationship to a deeper level, as we pray not just for ourselves but for others as well. In intercessory prayer, we put aside our needs and desires and focus on the needs of others. We stand in the gap for them, ask God to intervene in their lives, and trust that He will answer our prayers. In the next sections of this post, we will dive deeper into the difference between prayer and intercessory prayer, and how we can pray intercessory prayers effectively.
What is Prayer?
Prayer is simply communicating with God. We talk to Him, and He listens. In prayer, we pour out our hearts to God, confess our sins, express our gratitude, and ask for His blessings. Prayer is an essential part of our relationship with God, and it helps us draw closer to Him.
Prayer is not just a one-way communication; it is a conversation with God. In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, and He modeled for them what prayer should look like. He started by addressing God as “Our Father,” acknowledging that God is our heavenly Father and that we are His children. He then expressed praise and adoration for God’s name, His kingdom, and His will. He asked for His daily bread, forgiveness of sins, and protection from evil. Finally, He ended the prayer by acknowledging God’s power and glory forever.
Prayer is not just limited to certain times of the day or certain locations. We can pray anytime and anywhere. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to “pray without ceasing.” This means that we should have a constant attitude of prayer, always aware of God’s presence in our lives.
What is Intercessory Prayer?
Intercessory prayer is a type of prayer where we pray on behalf of others. In intercessory prayer, we stand in the gap for others, and we ask God to intervene in their lives. Intercessory prayer is an act of selflessness, where we put the needs of others above our own.
Intercessory prayer is not just a request to God to bless someone; it is a deep concern for their well-being. We pray for their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, and we ask God to provide for them in every way. Intercessory prayer is not just for our loved ones; it is for anyone in need, even our enemies. In Matthew 5:44, Jesus said, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”
Why is Intercessory Prayer Important?
Intercessory prayer is important because it aligns our hearts with God’s will. When we pray for others, we are expressing our love for them and our desire for their well-being. We are also acknowledging that we cannot do it on our own, and we need God’s intervention in their lives.
Intercessory prayer also strengthens our faith. It reminds us that God is in control and that He can do more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). It also helps us develop compassion for others, even those who may not be like us or who may have hurt us in the past.
Intercessory prayer is also an act of obedience to God’s command to love one another. In 1 Timothy 2:1-2, Paul wrote, “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.” By praying for others, we are obeying God’s command to love and care for them.
Intercessory prayer is also a powerful tool for evangelism. When we pray for the salvation of others, we are asking God to reveal Himself to them. In 2 Corinthians 4:4, Paul wrote, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” When we intercede for those who do not yet know Christ, we are asking God to remove the blinders from their eyes so that they may see the truth and be saved.
Furthermore, intercessory prayer is a vital part of spiritual warfare. In Ephesians 6:12, Paul wrote, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” As believers, we are in a spiritual battle, and intercessory prayer is one of our weapons. When we pray for others, we are asking God to fight for them and to defeat the enemy on their behalf.
How to Pray Intercessory Prayers
Intercessory prayer is not a formula, but there are some guidelines that can help us pray effectively. Here are some tips:
- Pray with faith: In James 5:16, it says, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” We need to pray with faith, believing that God hears our prayers and that He will answer them.
- Pray with compassion: Intercessory prayer is an act of love and compassion for others. We need to pray with empathy, putting ourselves in their shoes and feeling their pain.
- Pray with persistence: In Luke 18:1, Jesus told His disciples a parable about the need to always pray and not give up. We need to be persistent in our prayers, not giving up even if we do not see immediate results.
- Pray with thanksgiving: In Philippians 4:6, Paul wrote, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” We need to pray with thanksgiving, acknowledging God’s goodness and faithfulness.
- Pray in the Spirit: In Romans 8:26-27, Paul wrote, “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.” We need to pray in the Spirit, allowing Him to guide us and to intercede through us.
In conclusion, prayer and intercessory prayer are both essential parts of our relationship with God. Prayer is communicating with God, and intercessory prayer is praying on behalf of others. Intercessory prayer is important because it aligns our hearts with God’s will, strengthens our faith, and helps us develop compassion for others. It is also an act of obedience to God’s command to love one another, a powerful tool for evangelism, and a vital part of spiritual warfare.
As believers, we need to make intercessory prayer a priority in our lives. We need to pray for our loved ones, our enemies, our leaders, and the world. We need to pray for physical healing, emotional healing, and spiritual healing. We need to pray for the salvation of the lost and for the strengthening of the Church. And as we pray, we need to remember that God is sovereign and that He knows what is best for each person. We may not always see immediate results, but we can trust that God is working behind the scenes and that His will is being done.
Finally, let us remember that intercessory prayer is not just a duty; it is a privilege. We have the incredible opportunity to stand in the gap for others and to partner with God in His work in the world. Let us not take this responsibility lightly but approach it with humility, faith, and love.