Intercessory prayer is a central aspect of the Christian faith, and yet many Christians struggle to understand what it means and how to practice it. In essence, intercessory prayer is the act of praying on behalf of others, whether it be for their health, protection, guidance, or salvation. It is a selfless act that puts the needs of others before our own and aligns our hearts with God’s will.
Throughout the Bible, we see numerous examples of intercessory prayer. From Job praying for his friends to Jesus interceding for His disciples, the importance of praying for others is made clear. Intercessory prayer is not just a duty or obligation, but a privilege and an honor. It is a tangible way to demonstrate our love for others, to obey God’s commandments, and to engage in spiritual warfare.
In this blog post, we will explore what intercessory prayer is, its importance in the Christian faith, and how we can practice it in our daily lives. We will look at biblical examples of intercessory prayer, the role of the Holy Spirit in intercession, and practical tips for incorporating intercessory prayer into our daily routines. Whether you are a seasoned prayer warrior or new to intercessory prayer, this blog post will help deepen your understanding of this important spiritual discipline and empower you to pray with greater faith, boldness, and expectancy.
What is Intercessory Prayer?
Intercessory prayer is the act of praying for others. It is a selfless act that puts the needs of others before our own. In the Bible, we see numerous examples of intercessory prayer. One of the most well-known examples is in the book of Job. After Job had lost everything, including his children, his friends came to comfort him. However, instead of comforting him, they began to accuse him of sinning and causing his own misfortune. In response, Job prayed for his friends, and God restored him and blessed him with even more than he had before (Job 42:10).
Another example of intercessory prayer can be found in the New Testament. In the book of James, we are instructed to pray for one another, especially for those who are sick. James writes, “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:14-16).
The Importance of Intercessory Prayer
Intercessory prayer is important for several reasons. First, it demonstrates our love for others. When we pray for someone, we are showing them that we care about them and their needs. It is a tangible way to express our love for them and to help carry their burdens.
Second, intercessory prayer is a way to obey God’s commandments. In the Bible, we are instructed to pray for others. Jesus Himself prayed for His disciples and for all believers (John 17:20-23). As followers of Christ, we are called to do the same.
Third, intercessory prayer is a powerful tool in spiritual warfare. The Bible tells us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of darkness (Ephesians 6:12). When we pray for others, we are asking God to intervene in their lives and to protect them from the attacks of the enemy.
How to Practice Intercessory Prayer
Practicing intercessory prayer is simple but requires intentionality. Here are some practical ways to incorporate intercessory prayer into your daily life:
- Start with your inner circle. Begin by praying for your family and close friends. Ask God to bless them, protect them, and guide them.
- Pray for your church. Pray for your pastors, leaders, and members. Ask God to bless your church and to use it to impact your community.
- Pray for your community. Ask God to bless your city or town, to protect its residents, and to use Christians to bring about positive change.
- Pray for those in need. Pray for the sick, the homeless, and those who are struggling. Ask God to provide for their needs and to comfort them in their time of distress.
- Pray for your enemies. Jesus instructed us to pray for our enemies and to bless those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). Ask God to soften their hearts and to lead them to repentance.
- Use prayer lists or prayer journals. Write down the names of people you are praying for and specific requests. This can help you to stay organized and to track how God is answering your prayers.
- Pray with others. Intercessory prayer is not meant to be done in isolation. Find a group of believers to pray with regularly, whether it’s a small group or a prayer partner.
Remember that intercessory prayer is not about trying to manipulate God or to force Him to do our will. Rather, it is about aligning our hearts with His and asking Him to work in the lives of others according to His will. We may not always see immediate results, but we can trust that God is at work behind the scenes, and that our prayers are making a difference.
Biblical Examples of Intercessory Prayer
The Bible is filled with examples of intercessory prayer. Abraham interceded for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, asking God to spare the cities if there were even ten righteous people there (Genesis 18:22-33). Moses interceded for the Israelites when God was about to destroy them for their disobedience (Exodus 32:11-14). And in the New Testament, Paul often wrote about his prayers for the churches he was ministering to (Ephesians 1:15-23; Philippians 1:3-11; Colossians 1:9-14).
Perhaps the most powerful example of intercessory prayer is Jesus Himself. Throughout His ministry, Jesus spent countless hours in prayer, often praying for others. He prayed for His disciples (John 17:20-23), for Peter’s faith (Luke 22:31-32), and for all believers (John 17:9-26). And on the cross, Jesus interceded for His executioners, saying, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34).
The Role of the Holy Spirit in Intercessory Prayer
As Christians, we have been given the Holy Spirit to guide and empower us in our prayer lives. In Romans 8:26-27, Paul writes, “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.”
This passage tells us that the Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses and intercedes for us according to God’s will. When we pray for others, the Holy Spirit helps us to pray in alignment with God’s purposes, even when we may not know exactly what to pray for. As we yield to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, our intercessory prayers become more effective and powerful.
Intercessory prayer is a powerful way to demonstrate our love for others, to obey God’s commandments, and to engage in spiritual warfare. As followers of Christ, we are called to pray for one another, and to lift up the needs of others before our own. By practicing intercessory prayer, we are participating in God’s redemptive plan for the world and helping to bring about His kingdom on earth.
So let us commit ourselves to this important spiritual discipline. Let us pray for our families, our friends, our communities, and even our enemies. Let us trust in the power of prayer and in the goodness of our God, who hears our prayers and answers them according to His perfect will. As it says in the book of James, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).
In addition to the practical tips we’ve discussed, there are also several resources available to help you grow in your intercessory prayer life. Reading books on prayer, attending prayer retreats, and finding a prayer mentor are all great ways to deepen your understanding of intercessory prayer and to grow in your ability to pray for others.
Remember that intercessory prayer is not just a duty or obligation, but a privilege and an honor. We have the incredible opportunity to partner with God in His work on earth, to bring about healing, restoration, and transformation in the lives of others. So let us pray with faith, with boldness, and with expectancy, trusting that our prayers are making a difference and that God is at work in ways we cannot even imagine.