I often think of the importance of prayer, especially that of intercessory prayer because there’s obviously something profound about it. Praying for others is not just busy work. The Christian should be a prayer warrior, often found interceding in behalf of others. We are admonished in James 5:16 to “pray for one another”. It sounds like a simple request but the Lord urges this upon us because He knows the power of prayer. He knows what prayer can do, not only for the ones for whom we have prayed but for us as well. We need to pray, not to impress God but because it strengthens us and increases our faith. Intercession helps us to see with spiritual eyesight, the needs of others and to lift our voices to God’s throne in behalf of others once we see that need.
Praying for others requires we lay aside our own selfish needs. Intercessory prayer is open and unselfish. Some people have a deep burden to pray for others; intercession is their gift. But all of us have been called to pray and to pray often. Each time we send our petitions to God we are asking God to work in a way for that person that He might not otherwise work had we not asked. Our loved one, neighbors, coworkers, yes, even strangers we pass on the street need our prayers. Have you ever considered those who are unable to pray for themselves? They may be physically or mentally unable to pray. Others have spiritual discouragments that keep them from praying. Still others simply refuse to call on the name of the Lord. Regardless of the reason, each soul that has been laid upon our heart needs our prayers. Here are some reasons why we should engage in intercessory prayer:
1) We intercede because they are our brothers and sisters
If for no other reason, we must pray for others because we are all God’s children. God is no respecter of persons and neither should we be. Everyone is a part of humanity, a tapestry of mankind woven together from all ages, cultures and experiences. Our heart has to learn to care for others and be receptive to their needs because they are a part of us. Acts 17:26 reminds us that God has made us “of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth”.
2) It gives us an opportunity to pray for those who may not think to pray for themselves.
There are millions in the world who do not know God or know how to trust Him. They have not established a relationship with God, thus their minds do not naturally turn to Him. Many are independent and proud and look to themselves for answers to their problems. The Psalmist reminds us that “the wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts”(Ps. 10:4). Some people are too busy living life to think to pray. They need our prayers also.
3) It moves the hand of God
God is anxious to answer our prayers, especially when we pray for others. Even on a personal level we often lack because we fail to ask. In Matt.7:11, we see this promise: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”. Be the need great or small, it is not beyond what He is capable of providing. He is the Great Provider, Jehovah-jireh. When you see a need that someone has, ask God to fill it for them. Too often, we “have not because we ask not” (James 4:2).
4) It enhances our own spiritual growth
Intercessory prayer cannot help but deepen our personal relationship with God. Praying for others causes us to become more like Christ, who spent many hours communing with His Father regarding His concern for others. We cannot pray for the Lord to strengthen others without ourselves being strengthened. We cannot ask for God to soften someone else’s heart without our own heart being softened also. We bond closer and closer to God each time we pray for someone else, each time we enter into their feelings, their fears and their needs.
5) It enables us to focus on someone other than ourselves
We tend to be pretty selfish as a rule when it comes to prayer. It is not uncommon for our personal prayers to be quite self-centered. Interceding for others forces us to take our minds off of ourselves and turn them to others. True agape love always puts others first. Jesus was selfless, always preferring others above Himself, always praying for another person’s needs.
6) It gives us an opportunity to thank and praise God for what He has done for others
As we see how God intervenes in the lives of those we have prayed for, it gives us another opportunity to thank and praise Him for all His goodness. God is forever worthy to be praised. “O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever” (Psalms 106:1). It is so exciting to see the miraculous ways in which God answers the prayers we have prayed for others.
7) It brings us to the realms of heavenly places
Would we but consider the privilege of intercessory prayer! Such a grand opportunity to bring our petitions to the feet of Jesus! Prayer lifts us up to heavenly places. It brings us to the heart of One who sees all our needs, the One who never fails. It brings us into the presence of One who is our closest Friend. James 2:23 tells us that Abraham “believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the friend of God”.
8) It teaches us to understand how Christ is interceding for us.
Christ is always interceding for us. “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” (Heb. 7:25). Christ loves us dearly. He too sees the faults and failures of the ones we are praying for. He too knows their pain, their joys and their desires. As our High Priest, He is in the heavenly Sanctuary interceding, praying for us just as He did for Peter (Luke 22:32).
Yes, intercessory prayer is important. Not only do we gain strength from it, but it brings us to where we are supposed to be-in the presence of the Lord. The beauty of intercession happens as we pray for the good of others. We do not look for reward when we intercede, and yet it comes, simply because we have taken a moment to solicit God’s help in behalf of someone who may not even know we have called their name in prayer. It should be the desire of every Christian to be a skillful intercessor. You will be richly blessed by doing so!
All scripture references from King James version of the Bible