Prayer is one of the most meaningful gifts given to us by God. Through prayer, we seek higher counsel in our time of trouble or confusion, and gather insight for a specific situation. Prayer reinforces faith and helps us to personally connect with God. As you pray, you will gradually learn more about different methods of prayer. In this article we explore intercessory prayer, a type of prayer in which you receive prayer from someone else, or pray on behalf of a certain person or group of people. Intercession means to confer with or to interview. Intercession is interviewing or gaining an audience with God about someone else. It does not mean you have to be in physical proximity to another person, but that you are praying with the same purpose and heart, despite distance—looking to the needs of another rather than yourself.
Why Intercede for Another Person?
Intercessory prayer is based on the passages Romans 8:27 & 34, Hebrews 7:25, and 1 Timothy 2:1 among others. They all highlight a great reason to participate in intercessory prayer – Jesus did and does so—on our behalf. It says in Romans 8:34 (NIV), “Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” And also in Hebrews 7:25 (NIV), “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” So if we too are to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, intercessory prayer is worthy of our time.
Intercessory prayer is also a display of love to God. Paul includes intercession as an ingredient of worship in 1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NIV), “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” Whether sitting and praying with someone or praying from afar, loving God is a good reason to put intercessory prayer into practice.
Close Contact: Giving and Receiving Prayer in Physical Proximity
Getting support through prayer allows for the sharing of one’s burden or problem. In many ways, sharing your heartache or issue with another person lightens your load in a very real way. It takes trust to confide in another person and allow them to pray on your behalf. Intercessory prayer can establish a deep relationship with an individual, allowing you to share your dreams, goals, disappointments, faults or guilts in a tangible way. You connect with someone who is likely to empathize with you in your situation. While establishing a healthy prayer relationship with others, you grow together as individuals and as believers, as you witness God’s answered prayers in a variety of ways. Intercessory prayer may help bring closure to issues that seem unavoidable or unbearable as you bring them to God in unison and get another perspective.
It takes trust to confide in another person and allow them to pray on your behalf.
How Is It Different Than One-on-One With God?
In Matthew 18:19-20 (NIV), it says, “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”
Praying in a group has often been viewed to make haste or give importance to whatever it is that an individual is expecting from God. Some believe that the more individuals involved in a prayer session, the more likely the results. But it’s hard to put a formula to God. There are many mysteries as to how God works and even if thousands are gathered in prayer for a single purpose, it doesn’t guarantee the desired outcome. God graciously has far more wisdom than humans do and thankfully He carries the ultimate checks and balances for granting us what we desire.
What we do know is that God loves the unity of His people through prayer and solemn commitment. Through intercessory prayer and combined efforts, God will always be available, always listen, and be present. This promise He makes is the reason Christians come together and pray—they will be heard. If you desire something and connect with others, the combined effort will impact God in a profound way. He can read the hearts of those who pray in unison.
Helping To See In A New Direction
Prayer is one of the building blocks of a Christian life. As you grow in prayer, you will soon discover that though you expect God to honor your prayer, there are also times where accepting your situation without knowing the outcome is where faith comes in. In some ways, praying together can be more beneficial than praying alone, depending on the particular situation, but personal prayers between just one individual and God are not in any way less important.
In intercessory prayer, God can relay a message through someone else in the group that perhaps was blocked in personal prayer. Prayer with another may also help give you clarity to the prayer you’ve had with God personally. Many times if we are in crisis or an emotional mess about a situation, it’s difficult to see straight, even in prayer. By getting words from God through another person, it can help us gain a different perspective, leading us to find some value in our trial or insight into what God is doing in our lives. Prayer in this way can also help solidify something God has been trying to show you. If God relays a similar idea through another person who could not have eavesdropped on your personal prayer, it’s often a confirmation of whether you were hearing God correctly on your own.
Many times if we are in crisis or an emotional mess about a situation, it’s difficult to see straight, even in prayer.
Go The Distance: Praying for People Who Will Not Audibly Hear You
Intercessory prayer can also encompass prayer for others who are out of sight, such as neighborhood friends or refugees in Sudan. Intercessory prayer doesn’t require that the person be present. There are different benefits to prayer in both ways. Praying for friends, family, loved ones, and those in need is an exercise that often puts the focus not on ourselves and our own situations but on the desires and welfare of others. It’s a powerful image to think of hundreds of people praying for the earthquake victims in Haiti or members of your church all praying for the health of a pastor or the healing of a nation. God hears these prayers as well, and taking the focus off ourselves often gives new perspective to our problems in our own personal prayer requests.
Intercessory prayer is an amazing gift we all can share with one another. We are in an instant, a part of an infinite circle overlapping repeatedly, giving, taking, and supporting one another when in need. When dealing with a situation that’s bigger than I feel I can handle, I submit myself to prayer and ask others to pray as well. I find by doing this, I gain more hope and feel less alone. It’s always better to share the burden with another and approach God through personal and intercessory prayer. A prayer in unity with others is not more or less important than the prayers of individuals, but can be more meaningful when shared. In the Bible, God speaks of closeness and unity of the Spirit. It is up to us to gather together, and through our faith we can–and shall–move mountains, fulfilling God’s plans for his sons and daughters.