Prayer is a personal thing, how each of us do it will reflect our character and the unique way that God made us. In many places the Bible talks about prayer, but today I want to focus on what is intercessory prayer. A phrase sometimes people frown at or misunderstand and consider that intercessory prayer is something some super holy people do. The reality? We are all intercessors! I hope to share with you today how you can be encouraged about intercessory prayer and understand what it is.
Let’s start with prayer itself.
Prayer is our ability to talk to God, to invite him into our day to day lives and express what is on our hearts. It’s recognising that you’re just having a conversation. But this conversation is with someone who not only cares about you deeply but wants the absolute best for you no matter what.
Prayer is something that is also put on a pedestal, and we are led to believe that we need to do it, say it, act it in a certain way. It took me many years to recognise that prayer is about how I live my life with Jesus, not how someone else does it. The Bible gives us the tools we need, most importantly the Lord’s Prayer, as our anchor and springboard to create our prayers. When we can grasp how simple prayer can be in our life, we can begin to understand about what intercessory prayer is.
Do you pray for others?
The dictionary describes the word ‘intercessory’ as having the function of interceding. Interceding is about acting or interposing on behalf of someone in difficulty or trouble. Think about when you pray, what do you pray for? Are praying for anyone else at all? Then you are interceding and creating an intercessory prayer!!
Ezekiel 22.30 is a great place to look at this in more detail. It says –
“I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.
Ezekiel recorded these words from God. God went looking for someone to stand in the gap for sinful Jerusalem. This is a brilliant example of what we can do in our own lives. Do you need to step into the gap when someone else can’t?
I love thinking of this as an image of shields. God’s armour is there to protect and ground us. The shield may offer some protection on its own, but when it joins with others it’s a mighty force. As we step out to pray for others, we are strengthening that shield and choosing to put on God’s armour.
Stop wondering what intercessory prayer is. You are already doing it. Those times you say you’ll pray for someone; you’re stepping in and strengthening that defence. Don’t be disheartened, be encouraged that you are already an intercessor!
How can I deepen my understanding of what is intercessory prayer?
For this last bit I wanted to help demonstrate ways that you can be an intercessor when responding to scripture.
The Psalms are packed full of references to prayer. As this month we are focusing on the Psalms, I wanted to share some verses that specifically reference prayer and how they could help you be an intercessor!
Psalm 4.1 – Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.
The key themes here that you can pray into someone for are – comfort to know that God is there, peace and trust that God will carry them through their distress.
Psalm 66.20 – Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!
The key themes here that you can pray into someone for are – praise that God had heard their prayers and that God’s love is bigger than they know.
Psalm 141.2 – May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.
The key themes to pray for someone here are – that the Holy Spirit will have the freedom to work in the areas that it’s needed and that the person will be thankful with how God is working.
I do hope this encourages you in your prayer life and stepping in the gap for others. Some of these blog posts might also be useful to you.