Intercessory prayer is when we pray for other people, ourselves, or situations. We stand in the gap for a person’s salvation, for a nation, or for God’s redemptive purpose to be known concerning an issue facing the Body of Christ or the world. Most simply, intercession is when we declare what God tells us to declare, and pray for what God leads us to pray as we seek His heart and truth concerning His purposes.
God’s Kingdom is founded upon us asking Him in prayer. God could do all without our help, but He desires partnership with us through intimacy. Think of your spouse or best friend. You want to do things together because you love one another and enjoy doing life together. It is the same with God, and this is part of why we were created for companionship.
One important key in intercessory prayer is that we pray in agreement with God’s Word. It is essential that we pray in alignment with His will, and when we pray in agreement with His Word, we know He hears us.
“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.“ 1 John 5:14-15 (NKJV)
We can ask the Lord to bring Scripture verses to mind to pray in your times of intercession. We simply take these verses and turn them into a prayer as we stand in the gap for a person or topic. One way to do this, for example, is with Ephesians 1:17-18. One might pray these verses in this way:
Father God, give _________ the Spirit of wisdom and revelation that they would grow in knowing Jesus intimately. Give them understanding and open the eyes of their heart. Flood them with Your light that they would know the hope of Your calling in their life.
We can also pray effectively by using the prayers recorded in the Word expressed through Jesus and the apostles. Just as these prayers were fruitful during the time of the early Church, they still remain applicable today. Download a PDF of Prayers from the New Testament.
God may also allow you to feel His heart by bringing an emotion to the forefront, such as compassion. Ask Him to give you understanding on why you are feeling this and how to pray. Furthermore, when we do not know how to pray, it is best to simply ask God to do His perfect will.
A second key is to focus on the positive as we pray, that is, praying God’s redemptive purposes instead of focusing on what the enemy is doing. For example, instead of praying against deceit and dishonesty, pray for God to release conviction and truth by His Holy Spirit, flooding the person with His love so they instead choose to speak and act in godly ways.
Focusing on the negative aspects of a prayer burden has caused many an intercessor to become depressed and burdened down, instead of filled with the joy of the Lord. Remember, His joy is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). When we focus on God’s power and redemption in a situation versus the enemy’s actions, we are encouraged and strengthened in our faith as we pray.
A final key to intercession is to make sure we are actually praying. At times I have found myself venting or worrying over something instead of truly praying. Moreover, I recall an instructor sharing about when they were growing in prayer, they realized they were “preaching” to God on the microphone instead of actually praying during a corporate prayer gathering. He shared this experience with much humor. :)
These keys are by no means an exhaustive list, but I pray they help stir up your passion for Jesus’ heart in intercessory prayer. When God brings a person, issue or Scripture to mind (or someone asks us to pray), be sure to actually pray by asking the Lord to do what is on His heart.
To summarize, the most important aspect of intercessory prayer is asking God to do what He has shown us He desires to do, whether through His Holy Spirit or as already revealed in His Word.