Have you ever had an individual’s name come to mind, someone you had not thought of for a while? Have you felt your heart grieved about the state of a nation you have never seen? Or maybe you have wept without words over the realization of the sins of your country. Perhaps the Holy Spirit has been trying to get you to intercede for a person or nation. What is intercessory prayer?
Webster’s Dictionary speaks of intercession as “the act of interceding, meditation, pleading, or prayer on behalf of another.” Intercession is prayer offered for others as directed and inspired by the Holy Spirit. An intercessor becomes a go-between, as the Word of God says, someone who will “stand before me in the gap” (Ezekiel 22:30).
God is searching for those who will be intercessors, for those who can actually change life’s situations and people through their fervent, upright prayers.
But why doesn’t our great God just change people and reverse the atrocities of our world solely in His own strength and power? He could, without a doubt. But He has chosen man to be a co-laborer with Him, reconciling men, women and children to Himself through us. What a tremendous privilege!
Ever since the dawn of man’s history, God has covenanted relationship with this unique, moral creation. And even now in our corrupt world, God seeks relationship with us ‒ an intimate fellowship cultivated through communication with Him in a place of prayer. Our prayers can move the hand of God and release the reconciling work of the Holy Spirit. God has designed that it would be so, perhaps for two reasons: that we might learn how very dependent we are upon Him, and that He might be able to share the burdens, grief, and joy of His own heart with us.
Principles for Effective Intercession:
- Praise God for who He is, and for the privilege of engaging in the same wonderful ministry as the Lord Jesus (Heb. 7:25). Praise God for the privilege of cooperating with Him in the affairs of men through prayer.
- Make sure your heart is clean before God, by having given the Holy Spirit time to convict, should there be any unconfessed sin (Ps. 66:18; 139:23-24).
- Acknowledge you can’t really pray without the direction and energy of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:26). Ask God to utterly control you by His Spirit, receive by faith that He does, and thank Him (Eph. 5:18).
- Deal aggressively with the enemy. Come against him in the all-powerful Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and with the “sword of the Spirit” ‒ the Word of God (Jam. 4:7; Eph. 6:12-18).
- Die to your own imaginations, desires, and burdens for what you feel you should pray (Prov. 3:5-6; Prov. 28:26; Is. 55:8).
- Praise God now in faith – for the remarkable prayer meeting you’re going to have. He’s a remarkable God and will do something consistent with His character.
- Wait before God in silent expectancy, listening for His direction (Ps. 81:11-13; 62:5; Micah 7:7;).
- In obedience and faith, utter what God brings to your mind, believing that the Good Shepherd is speaking to your heart (John 10:27). Keep asking God for direction, expecting Him to give it to you. He will (Ps. 32:8). Make sure you don’t move to the next subject until you’ve given God time to discharge all He wants to say regarding this burden, especially when praying in a group. Be encouraged by the lives of Moses, Daniel, Paul, and Anna, knowing that God gives revelation to those who make intercession a way of life.
- If possible, have your Bible with you should God want to give you direction or confirmation from it (Ps. 119:105).
- When God ceases to bring things to your mind to pray for, finish by praising and thanking Him for what He has done, reminding yourself that “from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.” (Rom. 11:36)
A WARNING: God knows the weakness of the human heart toward pride. If we speak of what God has revealed and done in intercession, it may lead to committing this sin. God shares His secrets with those who are able to keep them. There may come a time when He definitely prompts us to share, but unless this happens, we should remain silent.