Interceding is defined by Webster as prayer, petition or entreaty in favor of another to intervene between parties with a view to reconciling differences, to mediate.
We can know in our minds what interceding is all about, but knowing in our hearts is the most important part of being an intercessor. Have you ever been so sick or grief stricken that you couldn’t pray? Have you ever been in so much mental or physical pain that you didn’t have the strength to pray? Have you ever been so confused or dismayed that you didn’t know what to ask the Lord for? I hope that you had someone to intervene in your behalf when you were unable to pray.
But intercession isn’t about you needing prayer, it is about others in need of prayer. Others who are grief stricken, physically ill, mentally confused, spiritually lost or hurt. Someone who is unable to pray for themselves. Someone who is hurting. They need someone who will petition the throne of heaven for them. They need someone who will mediate when they are not able. They need an intercessor.
Before we can pray for others though, we need to put ourselves in their place. We need to know how it feels to be sick, to grieve, to experience pain, heartbreak, utter confusion, complete loss. We need to have compassion for others in need. The best way to know those needs is to have experienced those needs ourselves.
The more we experience life and its ups, downs, ins and outs; the more we suffer, the greater capacity we have to pray for those in need. Because we can actually feel their pain. As we remember our own suffering, the despair we felt, the way that pain removes the ability to be able to think calmly and clearly. These experiences have brought us to a higher plane.
We are able to relate. That is exactly what Jesus did when he came to earth to bear our sins. He was able to relate to every temptation that we would ever have. He knew what pain was and can speak to the father in our behalf when we are in pain. He knew what it felt like to be betrayed. He knew what it was like to have people ridicule him. He experienced rejection, he experienced loneliness, he even experienced complete separation from God.
This week as I have been focusing on intercessory prayer, the Lord has spoken to me in a beautiful way. He gave me an illustration of what intercessory prayer is all about.
The other morning I woke up early, I couldn’t get back to sleep and the things in my life that are out of my control kept coming to mind. I laid in bed thinking and praying for myself. “Oh God, what am I going to do about our finances? Dear Lord, what can I do for my son, David and the mess he’s gotten himself in? Dear Jesus, restore my health.” I went on and on for hours until finally, I guess God had had enough of me whining. He said just as clearly as I am speaking right now, “Marsha, let’s make an exchange. You cast all your cares upon me, because I care for you. And in return, I ask that you pray for your aunt, Lillian who just had back surgery. Pray for George, a fellow at church who is grieving the death of his wife of 34 years. Lift up Geraldine, who has not yet received Christ as her personal savior. Pray in behalf of Wanda, who just had a toe amputated.”
It was like a light bulb went on in my head... now I get it. Forget about myself and the problems that I have, just quit trying to figure them out. Give my burdens to the Lord and forget about them - let him take care of them. Instead I should focus my energy on those that the Lord puts on my heart, those with needs that I can meet. A note, a call, a dinner invitation, a prayer for someone who is too sick to pray for themselves. A prayer in behalf of someone the Lord cares for and someone I care for also.
The rest of the day every time one of my worries would pop into my head, I would pray for one of those that the Lord asked me to pray for. I spent the entire day interceding for those dear folks that God had put in my heart.
When I think about Jesus and what he is doing right now, I always remember the passage in Hebrews. “Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office, but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” Hebrews 7:23-25.
That is what he does for us day in and day out. He is seated at the right hand of God, he is watching us and listening to us lift needs to him. He then turns to the Father and makes our requests known. He sees us when we are confused, when we are experiencing pain, when we fail, when we grieve. He knows what we need before we ask for it. When we lift the needs of others, when we set aside our own desires and think about what others need, he hears those prayers and will turn to God with those requests.
He has experienced our pain and knows that we need his compassion. He is compassionate and promises never to leave us.
Intercession is a beautiful way to pray. It gets our minds off ourselves and puts the focus on others and that is exactly what the gospel is all about. Loving our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus prayed for the needs of others so many times. He longed to bring people before the Father and he wants us to do the same.
Who do you know right now who needs someone to say a prayer for them? Who do you know that is lonely, hurting, in pain, confused, sad? How could you intercede for them?
A prayer of intercession might sound something like this.
Heavenly Father, I know that you are a big God. I know that you are able to meet the needs of everyone in the world all at the same time. I worship you and give you praise because you are worthy of praise. Today I want to lift the needs of those who, for one reason or another can’t pray for themselves right now.
Father, I ask that you touch Lillian’s body and help her to recover from back surgery. Mend her body and help her to be pain free.
Lord, I ask that you comfort George. If you can use me to minister to him, please give me wisdom to know how and opportunities to do so. Send people to help fill the void that he feels in his loss. Give those who minister to him the ability to listen and share in his loss.
I want to pray for Geraldine and the emptiness that she is experiencing in her life. She wants to have custody of her children again, but even more importantly, she is seeking to find you. I pray that you put Christians in her pathway to help lead her to you. I offer myself as a teacher to help her find you. I ask that you protect her from the evil one who does not want her to know your salvation. We will give you the praise when her name is written in the Lamb’s book.
Father, Wanda is a loving Christian lady, she trusts in you completely, but right now she is experiencing physical pain and the doctors don’t seem to know what is causing it. I lift her up to you Lord. Give her doctors wisdom, give Wanda peace, help her financially as she has to take time off work. Just meet every need she has and bless her in a special way.
These prayers I offer in the name of Jesus the Christ, the anointed one. Thank you for hearing my prayers and answering them in your time, in your way. Amen
Intercessory prayer is one way that we can build up and encourage the body of Christ. We are told in Ephesians 6:14-18 "Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all that, take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God, and pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests with this in mind. Be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."
Intercession is not something that only a few people in each congregation should do, but rather it is an obligation of believers. We are expected to pray for one another. Jesus is our example. He is continually at the Father’s right hand interceding for us. We should be doing the same.
In James the church is instructed to ask for prayer. “Is anyone among you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? He should sing praises. Is there anyone who is sick? He should send for the church elders, who will pray for him and rub olive oil on him in the name of the Lord. This prayer made in faith will heal the sick person; the Lord will restore him to health, and the sins he has committed will be forgiven. So then, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you will be healed. The prayer of a good person has a powerful effect.” James 5:13-16.
When your troubles are overwhelming, ask someone to pray with you and for you. But also remember to cast your cares on the Lord. Then focus on someone else’s need. Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you to pray for someone else. Stand in the gap for a brother or sister who just can’t pray for themselves.
God will take care of your needs by having someone else pray for you. That’s what this Christian fellowship is all about. We are one in the spirit and the Holy Spirit can give your need to someone else. Maybe someone who has been through what you are going through and remembers the pain, the torment. Someone who will have compassion for you.