A Guide to Intercessory Prayer

Examples of Intercession
Since days of Adam and Eve the people of God have sought God’s aid and intervention in human affairs through prayer. The Bible stands as a testimony of God’s graciousness to man’s pleas; it is a record of human prayers and God’s faithful responses. As we study the Biblical record we see those who through intercessory prayer, that is, praying in behalf of others, won victories or received guidance. For instance in Exodus 17:10-13 we see Moses interceding for the Israelites as they fought against the Amalekites:


So Joshua did as Moses had told him, and fought with Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. It happened, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side. His hands were steady until sunset. Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword,


Abraham interceded for the residence of Sodom and Gomorra. And there is Daniel, who prayed about the meaning of the revelation he received:


Then said he to me, Don’t be afraid, Daniel; for from the first day that you did set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard: and I am come for your words’ sake. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; but, behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me: and I remained there with the kings of Persia. Daniel 10:12, 13.


And there were those like Ana and Epaphras, who devoted their lives to God through prayer:


There was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher (she was of a great age, having lived with a husband seven years from her virginity, and she had been a widow for about eighty-four years), who didn’t depart from the temple, worshipping with fastings and petitions night and day. Luke 2:36, 37.


Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, salutes you, always striving for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. Colossians 4:12.


Now, it is intercessors like these that God is seeking, intercessors who will call upon his grace and power; who recognize that God can bring about a change in the direction of human history through faith in the all powerful one:


I sought for a man among them, who should build up the wall, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none. Therefore have I poured out my indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I brought on their heads, says the Lord. Ezekiel 22:30, 31″


The reality is that we are in a constant spiritual struggle. Through intercession we can build a stronghold against the forces coming against us. We can direct God power into areas of vital concern and we can bring about changes in people’s lives through prayer; as Paul tells us in 1Timothy and Ephesians:


I exhort therefore, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and givings of thanks, be made for all men: for kings and all who are in high places; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who desires all people to be saved and come to full knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4


…with all prayer and requests, praying at all times in the Spirit, and being watchful to this end in all perseverance and requests for all the saints… Ephesians 6:18


Also, the scriptures tells us that the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit are both active in interceding for us:


…because he lives forever, has his priesthood unchangeable. Therefore he is also able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:24, 25


In the same way, the Spirit also helps our weaknesses, for we don’t know how to pray as we ought. But the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which can’t be uttered. He who searches the hearts knows what is on the Spirit’s mind, because he makes intercession for the saints according to God. Romans 8:26, 27


Since intercession is a part of God’s nature we certainly should make it our practice too. And intercessory prayer is one way we can fulfill Jesus’ commandment to love each other as we bear the burdens of others according to Galatians 6:2, “So what does it take to become an intercessor? You must build the proper foundation to be an effective intercessor.”


The Foundation for Effective Intercession

Live a holy life

As children of obedience, not conforming yourselves according to your former lusts as in your ignorance, but just as he who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all of your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy; for I am holy’. 1 Peter 1:14-16


The effective, earnest prayer of a righteous man is powerfully effective. James 5:16


Beloved, if our hearts don’t condemn us, we have boldness toward God; and whatever we ask, we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do the things that are pleasing in his sight. 1 John 3:21-22


But the prayer of the upright is his delight. Proverbs 15:8


When we became born again, we were sanctified, that is we were set apart from sin and set apart for God’s purposes. Now we no longer have to be controlled by sin. Our new nature allows us to choose a path of righteousness. By dealing with sin and maintaining a pure and holy life we keep ourselves in a position of intimate fellowship with God the Father and with the Lord Jesus Christ.


Spend time in fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20


I am the vine. You are the branches. He who remains in me, and I in him, the same bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5


Christianity is not a religion; it is a relationship. God did not send down a set of rules for us to follow, he sent a person, his Son. When we receive his Son, we become born again. But many stop there; they do not develop a strong relationship with the Lord Jesus. But, this is the secret of the Christian life. We need to abide or spend time with the Lord just like we would spend time with another person. And how do we do that? We can spend time with Jesus through prayer, Bible study and worship. Through these practice we experience the presence of the Lord which will change us and bring joy to our lives.


And abiding develops discipline. Discipline is a quality that an intercessor needs to be effective. A branch that is separated from the vine can not grow. But we need to maintain our connection to vine each day. This bring us life, joy and peace.


Let God’s word abide in you

Blessed is the man who doesn’t walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the way of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers; But his delight is in law of the Lord; On his law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree planted by the streams of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also does not wither. Whatever he does shall prosper. Psalm 1:1-3


If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, you will ask whatever you desire, and it will be done for you. In this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; and so you will be my disciples. John 15:7, 8


God wants us to know his word. His word will help us grow spiritually, guide us in our decisions, increase our faith and aid us in our intercession.


This three part foundation is what we want to develop to become strong intercessors.


Qualities of an Intercessor
Now what are the qualities of a good intercessor? An intercessor is a person of faith; a person who believes or trust God and His promises. Paul tells us that we are all given a measure of faith. What will we do with this faith? We must start to use it: We should start trusting God for the things we need:


  • guidance when we make a decision
  • healing in our lives
  • strength in times of difficulty
  • overcoming sin in our lives
  • insight in dealing with others
  • assurance when we face doubt

As we practice using our faith we become better acquainted with God, His ways and His purposes. And we gain a better understanding of His love for us.


An intercessor is also a person with courage; courage to seek change in our world according to God’s will and courage to invest time in prayer to bring that change about. And an intercessor is a person who is open to God, open to hearing God’s directions and open to seeing the possibilities that God can bring about in a situation.


The Practice of an Intercessor
Now do you feel you lack the proper faith or courage or openness to God? Do not let such feeling hinder you for you can develop these qualities. Your main task is to do the work of an intercessor. For this you need to find a time when you can spend half an hour or an hour alone with God. Perhaps you could pray early in the morning, if possible. But have a set time and stick with it.


For your time of intercession there a few items would be helpful such as your Bible and a note book that you can list persons’ names, topics and issues that you want to bring to God in prayer. You could arrange your notebook with different pages for each area you want to pray for. You could have one page where you list issues of concern to your nation, a page for other countries and international issues, a page for your church, a page that list your family and friends and a page for ministries, pastors, teachers and missionaries. And whenever God lays a new concern on your heart be certain to write it in your notebook. Keeping up-to-date on current events by listening to the news or reading the newspapers is useful for an intercessor. God will use this practice to focus your attention on events and issues that need intercession and also to bring you news of answers to your prayers.


It is also helpful to have CD or cassette recordings of Christian praise and worship music so that you can spend part of your time praising God.


Each day when go to meet God for prayer begin by reading and meditation on God’s Word. Then have a short time of praise and worship to God with songs and hymns, “Serve the Lord with gladness. Come before his presence with singing.… Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, Into his courts with praise…” Psalm 100:2, 4.


Now, before we bring our request to God we want to make sure we are clean before him: “If I cherished sin in my heart, The Lord wouldn’t have listened.” Psalm 66:18. So we need to ask God reveal any sin in our lives that needs to be confessed; “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” 1 John 1:9. We can use the Self-Examination Questions for the Confession of Sin to help us recognize sin in our lives.


And also forgive anyone who has wronged us: “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father, who is in heaven, may also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your transgressions,” Mark 11:25, 26


After this preparation we are ready to bring our request to God.


Things to remember when we pray
1. Let us not look to our own wisdom on any issues we bring to God, but trust Him to provide insight and direction.


One who trusts in himself is a fool; But one who walks in wisdom, he is kept safe. Proverbs 28:26


For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord. Isaiah 55:8


But my people didn’t listen to my voice. Israel desired none of me. So I let them go after the stubbornness of their hearts, That they might walk in their own counsels. Oh that my people would listen to me, That Israel would walk in my ways! I would soon subdue their enemies, And turn my hand against their adversaries. Psalm 81-11-14


Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And don’t lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, And he will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5, 6


Call to me, and I will answer you, and will show you great things, and difficult, which you don’t know. Jeremiah 33:3


2. Pray according to the promises found in God’s word so that our prayers may be in accordance with God’s will.


This is the boldness which we have toward him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he listens to us. And if we know that he listens to us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions which we have asked of him. 1 John 5:14, 15


3. When you pray, expect an answer. We will not know when our answer will come or what form our answer will take, yet know that God is faithful and will respond to our prayer.


When you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Most assuredly, I tell you, they have received their reward. Matthew 6:5


Jesus answered them, ‘Most assuredly I tell you, if you have faith, and don’t doubt, you will not only do what is done to the fig tree, but even if you told this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it would be done. All things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive’. Matthew 21:21, 22


Without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing to him, for he who comes to God must believe that he exists, and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6


4. How should we respond when we come under attack from the enemy? By submitting ourselves to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and resisting the temptations that Satan puts before us:


Be subject therefore to God. But resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7


5. When our hearts are filled with worry, we can receive peace as a result of our time spent in God’s presence. Vanish worry with prayer and thanksgiving:


In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6,7


6. Prayer is not a one time activity, but an on going conversation between us and God


Continue steadfastly in prayer, watching therein with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2


…continuing steadfastly in prayer. Romans 12:12b


Pray without ceasing… 1 Thessalonians 5:17


7. Effective prayers do not have to be long, loud or repetitive. They can be short and specific. God the Father already knows the details.


In praying, don’t use vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their much speaking. Therefore don’t be like them, for your Father knows what things you need, before you ask him. Matthew 6:7,8


8. Persistence is necessary in prayer. One young Christian lady told me she tired praying, but nothing happened so she gave up. I explained to her that it is the one who keep on asking, seeking, and knocking that God answers.


Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8


9. Intercession involves spiritual warfare. We will often have to come against the strongholds of Satan and those who follow him.


For though we walk in the flesh, we don’t wage war according to the flesh; 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the throwing down of strongholds. 2 Corinthians 10:3-4


May the high praises of God be in their mouths, And a two-edged sword in their hand; To execute vengeance on the nations, And punishments on the peoples; To bind their kings with chains, And their nobles with fetters of iron; To execute on them the written judgment. All his saints have this honor. Praise Yah! Psalms 149:6-9


10. Recognize that we have a gracious God who is interested in the affairs of men:


Therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious to you; and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy on you: for the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. Isaiah 30:18


He who didn’t spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how would he not also with him freely give us all things? Romans 8:32


11. Remember the power that praise and worship adds to our times of intercession:


But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were loosened. Acts 16:25, 26


12. Finally, remember that sometimes the Lord wants to reveal something to us during our time of intercession. We need to learn to listen for His voice:


The Lord called Samuel again the third time. He arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for you called me. Eli perceived that the Lord had called the child. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call you, that you shall say, Speak, Lord; for your servant hears. So Samuel went and lay down in his place. The Lord came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel said, Speak; for your servant hears. 1 Samuel 3:8-10


Now the opportunity to change our world lays before you. You can be that person that God sought in Ezekiel 22, the one who would build up a wall and stand in the gap for the land. Through intercession you can make a difference. Start praying today and soon you will see God accomplish great things just as He has promised us in 2 Chronicles 7:14:


…if my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Copyright © 2003-2011 by Alan Pasho, www.disciplepedia.org. All rights reserved.

Scriptures taken from the Word English Bible (WEB)