Intercessory prayer should be part of the Believer’s prayer life. 1 Timothy 2:1 instructs us, “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” (NLT) Praying for others is pivotal in our prayer life. Not only does it increase our faith when we see God answer, but it also increases the faith of those we are praying for when they see how He helps them.
Some may not understand what we mean by intercessory prayer. Intercessory prayer is the action of saying a prayer on behalf of another person. When we lift up others in prayer before the Lord, we are asking God to work in their lives or circumstance. This can be anything such as asking for their salvation, healing, or family situation.
There are many examples of Jesus and others praying in intercession in the Bible. Jesus prayed for His disciples constantly. One example is when Simon Peter said he would never betray Jesus. Jesus told Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32 NAS) When our friends and loved ones need God’s strength when they are going through a trial or are in difficult circumstances, we should pray for them to remain strong in their faith and to hold on to Jesus. Abraham prayed for his nephew, Lot, and his family, to be saved from destruction in Sodom and Gomorrah. (Genesis 18:23-32) There are many more examples of intercessory prayer in the Bible.
James also tells us that we are to pray for others for healing and salvation, “Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (NASB 1995)
Jesus also commanded us to pray for our enemies. “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” (Matthew 5:44 KJV) As we pray for our enemies, an avenue is opened for God to work in their lives, whether they realize it or not. It also allows us an opportunity to see how God can take a bad situation and turn it around for good. Through our fervent prayers for them, God can change hearts, attitudes, and circumstances.
Intercessory prayer is a key element in the Believer’s life. Not only does it help those we are praying for, but it also helps us develop compassion for those around us. It’s easy to love and pray for those that we love, but it’s hard to be angry or in discord with someone when we are praying for them. We need to pray for them the way Jesus sees them, so we can exhibit the same love He has for them, in that way it increases our faith and accomplishes the Will of God.