Intercessory prayer is perhaps one of the highest privileges and callings that we have as believers. There are countless references to intercessory prayer throughout all of scripture. Intercessory prayer is, in fact, one of the behaviors that we see modeled over and over in scripture especially in the life of Christ.
In John 17 we read Christ’s high priestly prayer. In verse nine Christ specifically says “I pray for them.” He goes on in verse twenty to say “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word…” To be Christ-like in our prayer is to be interceding for others to God that His will might be done in their lives.
Another example of intercessory prayer is seen in the life of Abraham as he prayed for Sodom. In Genesis 18:16-33 Abraham intercedes on behalf of those of faith that lived in Sodom. Sodom was a city replete with sin and sinners, yet in the midst of the city there were righteous that were God’s very own.
Abraham was burdened to intercede on behalf of the righteous in fervent, persistent prayer. His prayers to God almost appear to be a negotiation with God but they are not. God wanted Abraham to know His will in the situation. In fact, in verse seventeen the Lord posits the rhetorical question “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing…” but as we see in the passage God wants to tell Abraham his plans because he knows Abraham’s future and what he has promised to do in and through him and his descendants. As Abraham’s prayed to God with persistence and in humility, God made his perfect will known.
There are three aspects to intercessory prayer that captured my attention in these passages as well as elsewhere in scripture. We see that those that pray for others are:
…burdened to intercede in prayer with urgency on behalf of others to almighty God.
…compelled to intercede in prayer in love with fervency for others to a just and holy God.
…driven to intercede in prayer with persistence to a sovereign God that His will is accomplished.
As we intercede on behalf of others we find ourselves turning our focus away from our needs and wants, and to the act of petitioning God to provide and intervene in the lives of others. As we intercede we are no longer caught up in wanting our way in other folks lives, but that God will have his way. As we intercede we no longer act in our own human effort to accomplish a change, but we engage God to do a powerful and mighty work in the lives of others. As we intercede in prayer, we yield ourselves to God that we might see Him glorified.
Who has God burdened you with this very moment that you are compelled to go to God, interceding in prayer on their behalf? What situation fills your heart and mind and drives you to your knees seeking God’s intervention? Who will you intercede for in prayer today?