By Betty Miller
Intercessory prayer is the act of praying for other people. The Lord instructed us to pray not only for our own personal needs but to reach out and pray for others as well. We find an example of this in 1 Timothy 2:1-6 where we are told to pray and to make intercession for all men:
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. 1 Timothy 2:1-6
What is intercessory prayer? The Greek noun, “enteuxus” in the Bible is the word for “intercession.” It primarily denotes a “meeting with,” a conversation or petition rendered on the behalf of others. “Intercessory prayer,” then, is seeking the presence and audience of God in another’s stead. When we pray for the needs of others that is called “intercession” or we are said to be “interceding” for them.
Jesus was the greatest “intercessor” of all time. Isaiah 53:12 records the following prophecy about Jesus: “Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”
Hebrews 7:25 speaks of Him as a high priest that is still interceding on our behalf: “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”
The Lord is looking for men and women today that are willing to enter into this ministry with Him. He has always sought people that would “stand in the gap” for others.
And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, 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 mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord God. Ezekiel 22:30-31
The Lord does not want judgment to fall upon people. He desires that they repent and return to Him. However, if they do not repent, judgment is inevitable. The fruit of sin always has penalty. Prayer for others causes them to repent and seek God. Therefore, the Lord is always looking for those who will take a burden of prayer for the wayward ones, so that they might come to Him. He needs spiritual warriors who will selflessly intercede on behalf of others. The ministry of intercessory prayer perennially stands open for volunteers who will join the Lord in this work. Through this ministry one can circle the entire world interposing for the multitudes who have no one else to “stand in the gap” for them. I personally do not believe the Lord will call anyone into a public ministry unless the ministry of intercession has first become a priority in his life.
There are many people eagerly wanting to do something for Jesus while this important field of work stands wide open. It is certainly not as glamorous as some other ministries, for no one is seen or applauded in their prayer closet, and perhaps that is exactly why there are so few volunteers. Even when people are interested in serving in this form of ministry, there is often a lack of knowledge as to the equipment and the keys needed to be effective and successful in it.
Some of these keys are presented here in hopes that if you have a heart toward God and are willing to become an intercessor, you will know how to obtain many victories. Intercessory prayer, being a ministry to others, is not something that directly benefits us. It is essentially an outreach ministry. Through it we can truly lay down our lives for others. As we are faithful by sacrificing our time on the behalf of others, the Lord then takes care of our needs. As we minister to others, the Lord ministers to us. While praying for others, we cannot neglect mentioning the added blessing of being in fellowship with the Lord. As the Holy Spirit directs us in the ways we are to pray for others, we need to keep in mind that He will always have us pray according to His Word.
Negative prayers and judgment prayed down on people are not in harmony with the Spirit of the Lord. God is continually extending mercy and help. Some people in ignorance pray for God to do whatever it takes to save someone. They pray such prayers as, “Lord, if you have to break their back to get them to come to you, break their back Jesus, take their business away from them, but save them. God, if it takes a car wreck to save them, do it Lord. Show them, even if they have to get cancer.” These are examples of the way some ignorant Christians pray. They are truly crimes against the heart of Christ. He came to save, not to destroy and kill.
And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village. Luke 9:53-56
No one gets saved just because he gets cancer. If that were true, then every one that had cancer would automatically come to God. Getting cancer, or being in a car wreck, never saved anyone. On the other hand, many people have died and gone to hell in these ways. Granted, some do come to the Lord when tragedy strikes, but it was the strength of someone praying for them and the mercy of the Holy Spirit that caused them to come to God, not the tragedy. Without the conviction of the Holy Spirit, their thoughts would never have gone out to God even in their crisis.
God does not send calamities in order to bring people to Himself. He tells us in His word that it is the Spirit of God that “woos” and “draws” people to Himself. This is hastened as Christians pray. John 6:44 says, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” Praise God for intercessors that stand against the enemy and keep him from destroying the souls and lives of men, women and children who need the Lord. The ministry of intercession is a vital part of our Christian walk and we can never attain to maturity and become overcomers by slighting it. I often use the words “task” and “work” in reference to prayer because it is never easy nor convenient to pray with any discipline or consistency. We must remember that we have an enemy (the devil) who is constantly trying to keep us from our prayer life because he knows (better than most Christians) the damage done to his kingdom through it. Let us never cease to pray for others and thereby be those “intercessors” that God is looking for.