Prayer For Intercessors In The Spiritual Conflict
What is Intercessory Prayer?
By Betty Miller
Pastors Bud & Betty Miller on Intercessory Prayer
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 2:1-6where we are told to pray and to make intercession for all men:
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.
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
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.
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And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Revelation 12:11
What is Intercessory Prayer was written to lift up and encourage the body of believers; sharing your testimony is one of the ways that we continue to overcome the enemy.
ISM Spiritual Conflict Training
“If our battle is against ‘powers and principalities’, why don’t I know more about how to fight them?”
“What is the place of listening prayer and intercession in our ministry?”
“How can I recognize and respond to spiritual attack in my own life, my students, and my team?”
Ever asked these questions? Got more to ask?
Spiritual Conflict and Prayer
An online ISM training course for all InterVarsity staff, volunteers, and committed students
REGISTERHERE by February 15. Space is limited.
Spiritual conflict is real, yet we often struggle to identify it and feel unprepared to respond appropriately. And sin and personal brokenness can derail discipleship, ministries…and ourselves.
Join colleagues around the nation for this free, no-travel 8-week online course which will cover topics including strongholds in evangelism and discipling, listening and intercessory prayer, demonic oppression and deliverance, intimacy with God and generational influences.Specific attention will be given to ministry with international students, but the principles apply to all ministries.
Note: We use the term spiritual “conflict” in this course because “warfare,” “crusade,” can give an inaccurate impression when seen by outsiders. As followers of Jesus our role is to spread God’s shalom: peace and well-being, and use of the word “warfare” might hinder that mission.
Travel: None required.
Outcomes: Participants will learn to…
- experience greater intimacy with God, with a focus on listening prayer,
- address areas of vulnerability in their own lives, students and teams that invite the enemy’s attack,
- recognize and respond to spiritual conflict in ministry, including demonic oppression in students and counseling new believers who have been involved in harmful spiritual practices,
- commit to deeper intercessory prayer, including praying into strongholds and barriers to growth using appropriate Scriptures, and gathering committed intercessors around their own ministries and for themselves.
8 weeks @ 1.5-2hrs/week, March 1-April 23.
Content is divided into two units, each a discipleship cycle of reading assignments, online written reflection and discussion via Moodle, active response in your local community, and group debrief + lecture on Zoom.
Dates for 90min. Zoom calls: March 1, 22, 29, and April 23. Exact times will be determined later, in the window 12-5pm EST.
Katie Rawson is the ISM Senior Resource Developer, the author of Crossing Cultures with Jesus and a thirty- plus year veteran ISM staff. She has encountered spiritual conflict in a variety of forms and settings and learned through experience how to help people receive freedom from spiritual bondages.
The directors are eager to share from their own experiences and learn from those of others.
- Week 1, Mar 1-2: Zoom call* (3/1): webinar to introduce Unit 1
- Week 2, Mar 5-9: Unit 1 reading and online written response to reflection questions (due 3/9)
- Week 3, Mar 12-16: Complete active response step and report on it online (due 3/16)
- Week 4, Mar 19-23: Zoom call (3/22) to debrief Unit 1 material, including active response
- Week 5, Mar 26-30: Zoom call (3/29): webinar to introduce Unit 2
- Week 6, Apr 2-6: Reading and written response to starred questions online (due 4/6)
- Week 7, Apr 9-13: Complete active response step and report on it online (due 4/13)
- Week 8+, Apr 16-20: No assignments. Finish any incomplete readings or assignments
- Week 9, Apr 23: Zoom call (Apr 23) to debrief Unit Two material, including active response, and entire course
*All Zoom calls will be recorded, so you can listen/ watch later if you have to miss one. Calls will be 90min.
except the final call, which will last 2 hours.
Introduction to spiritual conflict, patching holes in our spiritual armor, spiritual conflict in ISM, intimacy with God, listening prayer for individuals and groups
- Zoom Call 1: webinar to introduce Unit 1 and course, with “Shalom and Spiritual Conflict” article as handout (Week 1)
- chapter 2 in Crossing Cultures with Jesus (CCWJ),
- “Spiritual Issues in ISM”
- “Shalom and Spiritual Conflict.”
- Do personal reflection question 1 on p. 37, CCWJ.
- Answer reflection questions on these readings and share your answers to starred questions with colleagues online. (Week 2)
- Staff shares lessons learned about listening prayer, ISM and spiritual conflict with volunteer or student leader team and leads them in a time of listening prayer, following the instructions on p. 38, CCWJ:
- Discern any area of group vulnerability such as disunity, illness, or busyness.
- Ask the Lord how to pray for students and groups of students.
- Share about listening prayer experience with colleagues online. (Week 3). What happened? What questions came up or remain in your mind?
- Zoom Call 2. Debrief Unit 1 active response (Week 4)
Spiritual strongholds in evangelism and discipling, intercessory prayer and fasting, demonic oppression and generational influences, prayer ministry and deliverance from demonic oppression
- Zoom call 3: webinar to introduce unit content, with “Breaking Free” article as handout (Week 5)
- chapter 3 of CCWJ
- “Breaking Free”
- prayer ministry review article by Laura Thiel.
- Answer reflection questions on these readings and share your answers to starred questions with colleagues online. (Week 6)
- Share material from chapter 3 of CCWJ, the prayer ministry review article and the “Breaking Free” article with your team and discuss how to respond to the material. Is there a need to go through the material in the “Breaking Free” article with team members and/or students?
- Do prayer ministry for each other so that team members will be in a good place when called on to pray for others. Deal with any personal or group “holes in the armor” discerned in the listening prayer time of week 3 if needed. (Week 7)
- Share about listening prayer experience with colleagues online. What happened? What questions came up or remain in your mind? (Week 7)
- Zoom Call 4: Debrief Unit 2 active response and entire course. Share next steps and pray for one another. (Week 8)
17 Signs You May Be a Prophetic Intercessor (The Intercessory Prayer Gift)
Do you believe that God has called you to be a prophetic intercessor?
Intercessory prayer is simply praying on behalf of others—and when this is teamed up with a prophetic gift it can be powerful.
Prophetic prayer occurs when we pray with insights (prophetic revelation) received from the Holy Spirit. We may receive these insights during prayer, or pray about revelation that has already been received.
‘In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.’ (Rom 8:26-27)
The Ministry of Prophetic Intercessory Prayer
“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.” (Ezek 22:30)
Anna is a Biblical example of a prophetic intercessor. She poured years into her God-given assignment of praying in the temple, leading up to Jesus the Messiah’s birth. (Luke 2:36-38)
It has often been said, that not all intercessors are prophets; however, all prophets are called to intercede. And in the Bible, we see specific examples of those in a prophetic office who took time to intercede for those people and situations they ministered into. 
So if you have a prophetic calling, I encourage you to read and be inspired by the list in this article, even if you do not see yourself as a prophetic intercessor.
Following are some of the signs that I have observed (and personally experienced) in those who have a calling to the ministry of prophetic intercession. The first three signs are common to all of those who have a calling to the ministry of prayer:
- You believe that God has called you to pray and you love to pray more than most people do
- You place a high value on prayer and sometimes wonder why (or get frustrated when) others do not share it
- You have seen significant answers to your prayers
Specific Signs Related to a Prophetic Intercessory Prayer Gift
If you are called to the ministry of a prophetic intercessor, you will find that you relate to some or many of the following additional things:
- You tend to pray more at times when you feel urged by the Holy Spirit (you may know this as a ‘burden’ of prayer).
- Prayer is easy for you when you sense that the Holy Spirit has given you a specific burden or assignment. However, you find it harder to pray when people assign prayer to you as a task, or give you lists and times to pray (unless you feel drawn by the Spirit to these). In the past, you may have been intimidated by those who are ‘task intercessors’, who happily spend hours praying over lists.  However, God is calling you to embrace your particular gift and calling and see it as He does—highly valued and powerful.
- You receive revelation from the Holy Spirit concerning what to pray and how to pray. You may receive prophetic insights concerning the situation you are praying about, to pass on or to pray further into.
- You may be more spontaneous in the expression of your prayer gift than others who are gifted in prayer.
- You have a strong sense of intimacy with the Holy Spirit when you pray—and this fuels your prayer life.
- Travail is familiar to you—a sense of birthing the purposes of God—and you may have experienced wordless groans or weeping in your prayer times. In this, you can identify with Hannah (1 Samuel 1:10-13) and Elijah—who prayed for rain in the birthing position (1 Kings 18:41-44).
- You do not always need to have specific knowledge about what you are praying for. Sometimes you pray in the realm of ‘mystery’. (1 Cor 14:2) It is enough for you to know that the Spirit has called you to prayer.
- When you have a prayer assignment, it may feel as though you are personally involved and invested in the situation. You may have a sense of identification in the Spirit with those you are praying for. You may feel what they are feeling, or sense God’s heart towards them, such as compassion, grief or mercy.
- You know the ‘secret place’ of prayer. Your prayer life is often hidden, and sometimes not understood or appreciated by people. However, your reward is found in the Presence of God.
(As with all prophetic gifts and ministries, the ministry of prophetic intercession flourishes in local church community and benefits from oversight. It is a temptation for those with a prophetic prayer ministry to isolate themselves, especially if they feel misunderstood.)
- You experience a deep sense of satisfaction in prayer—especially in being at the right place, at the right time for your God-given assignment to pray on behalf of a person, group, region or situation.
- You may be sent by God to be in certain places at particular times to intercede on behalf of a situation, person or region, especially if you are a prophet-intercessor operating in a ‘prophetic office’ ministry.
- Your journey has been lonely at times. Even those around you who love prayer do not always understand the dynamics of prophetic intercessory prayer. You may have experienced some unusual manifestations of the Holy Spirit whilst praying (Rom 8:26-27), that others do not understand. (Note: It is very important that we focus on the fruit of the prayer, and the message of the prayer, rather than manifestations, when communicating to others).
- One of your challenges has been to learn to fully release the burden of the Spirit in prayer—not to hold onto it. You have also had to learn not to personalise or hold onto the emotion that identification (point 11) can sometimes bring with it.
- You prefer prayer meetings that have some room for listening to and being led by the Holy Spirit in prayer.
(Note: This does not mean that other types of prayer meetings are wrong—we must always honour others who lead prayer meetings, regardless of their culture, methods or emphasis. They are not wrong—just different to us)
The ‘Prophet-Intercessor’ is someone who has a five-fold ministry office of a prophet (Eph 4:11-13), and who also has a primary calling and gifting of intercessory prayer. As mentioned in point 14, above, a prophet-intercessor may be stationed or sent by God to specific places to pray and make prophetic declarations.
A prophet who is an intercessor will have a greater level of authority in prayer and prophetic ministry, than a prophetic intercessor. He or she may be used by God to minister through prophecy and intercessory prayer in significant arenas—these may include nations or regions, governments, education, business and church movements.
Is Intercessory Prayer a Spiritual Gift?
Is prophetic intercession, or intercessory prayer, a spiritual gift? I personally believe so. The prophetic intercessor is graced and anointed to pray. One way of looking at this, is to see prophetic intercessory prayer as an expression of the prophetic gift.
Our God who created the snowflake and fingerprints gifts His people in many unique ways. Those of us who are prophetic intercessors know, when we find others who have a calling, that we have found one of our own ‘tribe.’
Notes: Some examples: Moses intercedes for Israel (Exodus 34:8-9), Daniel for the Jews (Dan 9:3-19), Jeremiah for Jerusalem (Jer 14:20-21) and Elijah prayed for the drought he prophesied to begin and end (James 5:17-18)  For insights about different prayer gifts, I highly recommend Intercessors Discover Your Prayer Power, by FEMRITE, T; ALVES, E; KAUFMAN, K. 2000. Ventura : Regal.
Prayer Warriors! The School of Intimacy and Prayer is Open
When I began to experience a significant anointing of the Holy Spirit for prophetic prayer 20 years ago, I did not know how to navigate many of the encounters with God I was having.
I saw miracles and breakthrough in answer to prayer, but I also made mistakes, and had a lot of growth pain as a prophetic intercessor
Since then I have been a prayer leader, have been a minister on a prophetic team, and by God’s grace have developed in ministry as a prophetic writer and teacher.
Now I’m passionate about helping others on the same journey I’ve been on. And this week, a long-held dream has come to reality.
I’ve just launched the Enliven School of Intimacy and Prayer with the first series of topics, and I extend you a warm welcome to join me!
Currently on the Prayer School are self-paced video lessons on:
- Intimacy with the Holy Spirit
- Introducing Prophetic Prayer
- Praying the Mysteries of Heaven
- The Gift and Ministry of Prophetic Intercession
- Angels and Encounters
- Bonus mini-eBook on Prophetic Dreams
You can find out more or enroll in the School of Intimacy and Prayer here. Alternatively, you can view all online courses here.
More help for prophetic intercessors:
Prophetic Intercession, its Power and Pitfalls
8 Signs You May Have a Gift of Prophecy
8 tips For Personal Intercessors
© 2016 Helen Calder – Enliven Ministries: In the David McCracken Ministries family
spiritual practices› Why Pray?› What Is Intercessory Prayer?
a downloadable PDF on intercessory prayer.
What's Different About Intercessory Prayer?
Intercessory prayer is not the same as prayers for yourself, or for 'enlightenment', or for spiritual gifts, or for guidance, or any personal matter, or any glittering generality. Intercession is not just praying for someone else's needs.
Intercession is praying with the real hope and real intent that God would step in and act for the positive advancement of some specific other person(s) or other entity. It is trusting God to act, even if it's not in the manner or timing we seek. God wants us to ask, even urgently.
It is casting our weakness before God's strength, and (at its best) having a bit of God's passion burn in us.
“I commend intercessory prayer, because it opens man's soul, gives a healthy play to his sympathies, constrains him to feel that he is not everybody, and that this wide world and this great universe were not after all made that he might be its petty lord, that everything might bend to his will, and all creatures crouch at his feet.”
Intercession In the Bible
The Bible has many cases of people standing up for others before God. The most striking example is Abraham. He took the initiative to step forward before God on behalf of his neighbors in Sodom and its area.
He cared enough to do it, even though he knew how thoroughly wicked Sodom was, and knew how furious God was about it (which explains why he was so careful in speaking to God about it). Moses also stepped in when God was angry, standing in the gap in the most literal sense : offering his own life for that of his nation.
(Thankfully, God didn't take him up on the offer.) It was part of the role of a prophet not just to speak what God speaks, but to speak with God for the people of Israel. A fine example is the exchange between the prophet Habakkuk and God, where the prophet asks for God to act against injustice, but God replies about a coming doom.
Isaiah prayed with King Hezekiah to save the nation from defeat and destruction at the hands of Assyria, and the armies were suddenly turned back (see Isaiah ch. 36-39). The master builder Nehemiah prayed to God to bring about the rebuilding of Jerusalem and of his people.
As they took their concerns to God, the key motivation behind these giants of faith was compassion. They loved the people, the culture, the faith with a love God's love, and it burned in them so much that they dared to take on God on their behalf.
Un the gods of the lore of most other lands, this God did not zap them with lightning or turn them into half-beasts. God listened to their cries — not by ignoring the wrongdoings which got the divine wrath kindled in the first place, but by saving at least some of the people and bringing them back to where they belonged.
New Testament Intercession
The New Testament has its cases of intercessory prayer. Jesus was the prime example of an intercessor. He interceded in prayer for God to bless and protect His followers. At the cross, He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
” Indeed, His whole life, His whole reason for being born, was to be a living intercession, a giving of His life to span the rift caused by our rebellion against God. Others followed Jesus' example.
Stephen's last words were an intercession on behalf of those who were killing him. Paul prayed constantly for the struggling young church, for character, behavior, witness, and wisdom.
It is Paul's regular intercession for the church and its people which sets the usual pattern for our own intercessory prayers. And Epaphras was the 'prayer wrestler' for the church in Colossae.
Even at its earliest, the young church was praying for people: for safe travel, praying that people might know Christ through other peoples' witness, praying for healing and health, for rescue, for wisdom, for childbirth, for spiritual growth, for marriages — asking God to bring benefit or blessing to people other than themselves. The others were not always beloved; they prayed for their political leaders, some of whom were out to kill them. But they knew their God was merciful and was intimately involved with what was going on in the world. And they knew they were called by God to share in that involvement.
Your Intercessory Prayer
The place where intercessory prayer must start is with you. It's great to know that others may be stepping up for someone before God, but God wants you to stand in the gap, putting something of yourself on the line. Otherwise, it's too cheap to be real. Your private devotions are not just for your own benefit.
If God's love is at work in you, you will care about others, and your love for them will lead you to take it to the ultimate Source of strength, healing, and love. Don't be fearful; be persistent and stubborn. God doesn't mind; God s to see divine love at work in you. God honors your part in the relationship.
You Never Pray Alone
It is best to always be aware that you never really pray alone. For when the honest love in you for other people causes you to ask God to act to strengthen, heal, defend, change, or bless them, there is someone else praying with you: the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is leading you to pray.
When your love is not whole or your mind is not clear, the Spirit steps in for you, to express the intercession and draw you into it. Christian intercessors over the past two millenia have prayed their intercessions in a 'Trinitarian' manner : to the Father, through the Son, and in and with the Holy Spirit.
God isn't fussy about the pattern, but it helps us to see some part of how God works in prayer.
Prayer Changes As Needs Change
The intercessory prayer you first pray about someone may not be what God wants you to pray for. For instance, you might be praying to lift a burden, but the Lord might be using the burden to prepare them to do something for God. Then again, your prayer might be what God wants to happen. Thus, we are to pray listening for the Spirit, and pray that God's will be done.
I find myself concentrating better when I mutter the words; it gives my mind more focus. The mind may go off to explore something during personal devotions, but not while you're interceding for others — those others must be your first concern.
So, it's sometimes best to do it before you seek stillness (though God will sometimes lead you stillness into intercession — be open to it).
A Time For Prayer, A Time to Act
Don't be surprised if the Spirit starts tugging on your heart to take some sort of action about a matter you're praying about. You may be the answer God sends into their lives.
That's not a license to be a buttinski, stepping into everyone's private lives some sort of conquering hero. But the Spirit might be calling you to be more than a bystander. Be ready for it. Be open to it.
When you intercede in prayer, bring your knowledge, gifts, abilities, attention and energies before God and say, 'use these, if that's what it takes to set this right'.
Anyone can pray for others and step in with God on their behalf. But some people are gifted at prayers of intercession. They have an ear and a passion for the needs of others, and take them before God even when those other people reject God.
An intercessor's heart is touched for those in need, not so much on their side as by their side and on their behalf. They have a burden for that person. They persevere. They let the Spirit give them comfort about it, instead of worrying.
And when word of results comes, they celebrate and are happy about it. If that sounds you, then you may be a gifted intercessor.Sometimes, someone is led to be an intercessor for a specific person or mission or task. Such people are valuable even beyond donors.
Such intercessors sometimes get a strong sense of coming danger about whom they're praying for.
They often report they're driven to their knees to pray about something they can't otherwise have known was happening. Sounds weird, but it's true.
Intercessors also pray for world, national, and local political leaders. This follows in the tradition of the early church's prayers for the Roman authorities. Some people actually think it's good to pray against evildoers and oppressive leaders, even to pray for their death.
Not that God would pay any attention to you if you did. But such thinking poisons your attitude. Pray rather that the Spirit would lead them or change them.
When James and John asked for permission to do harm to their enemies by praying for divine acts of judgement, Jesus reminded them of why He was there (and they, too):
“For the Son of Man did not come to destroy peoples' lives, but to save them.”
Intercessory prayer aims to build people into what God wants of them, not to tear them down.
Thy Will Be Done
“Therefore faith prays in such a manner that it commits everything to the gracious will of God; it lets [God] determine whether it is conducive to his honor and to our benefit.”
Martin Luther, in a sermon on Matthew 8:1-13.
Will It Avail?
Some people claim we can ask God to do things on behalf of people, and know it will be done. It's understandable to think that, for Jesus promised that our prayers would cause things to happen, especially when we keep at it. But look again at the intercessors in the Bible. Their success was very real, but far from complete.
- Abraham stuck his neck out with a rightly-angry God, but could only save his relatives.
- Moses' people were spared immediate destruction, but his generation would not get the land God had promised — the next generation did.
- All of David's deep and totally sincere weeping and begging could not save his baby son — though it did set up for the birth of his successor.
- Jesus prayed for the unity of His followers, and the apostles prayed for the unity of the church. They gained much unity, but still had serious divisions.
- The apostles prayed for each of their poor, but had more poor members by the day.
- The apostles had hundreds of people constantly praying for their safety, but they died martyr's deaths.
In such cases, God's mercy does not override God's purpose nor God's justice, not to mention our own wills. We cannot fathom God's purposes or know for certain what God knows about what is to be.
God's love simply has a broader, deeper, longer work to do, and sometimes what we pray for simply cannot find a place within that work.
Intercessors sometimes must accept even the most bitter of losses, with the awareness that their prayers did not — and sometimes must not — avail. This is a hard mystery of intercession.
God Knows Best
None of us are fully aligned with God's purposes. There will always be a difference between the two. It's okay to ask for what you want from the situation; that's a part of being honest with God.
You can pray that your request somehow be found in the divine purposes, and pray for doorways to a better way if it can't be. (Maybe God will provide you a ram as with Abraham when sacrificing Isaac.
) But God may have other plans, and your part is to trust that God's plans will be best.
Intercessory prayer does not work by your own power, as if you were the Almighty. When prayer is answered, it is answered in God's way, and it may not be at all the 'victory' you are 'claiming'.Most of the time, the Spirit's main work is to change you, to make you care more, and to get you to focus on what others are going through instead of only seeing life from where you are. Sometimes, something more happens.
“God, in giving us all free will, said to us: “Your will be done.” Some of us turn back to him and say: “My will is that your will be done.” That is obedience to the first and greatest commandment. Then, when we do that, he turns to us and says: “And now, your will be done.” And then he writes the story of our lives with the pen strokes of our own free choices.”
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Orig. 2000-01-14, ver.: 2016-10-15.
Intercessory Prayer. Copyright © 2000-2016 Robert Longman.