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What Is Intercessory Prayer?

When we do not know what else to say, a promise of prayer feels good and right.  And it is, but what does it mean?  Will it do any good?  We want to believe. We hate feeling helpless.  We read that the prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16), but we’re pretty doubtful that we are “that man.”

The Psalmist asked God to give him understanding so he could obey the desires of God.  Intercessory prayer is something we desperately need to understand–and when we do, like the Psalmist, we will obey.  True intercessory prayer is the greatest thing we can do for others and for ourselves.

Praying for someone is NOT just thinking about them.  Intercessory prayer flows from unity with Jesus Christ.  It is not a flippant activity for it requires spending time seeking the heart of God.  Sincere prayer is not simply a request for help from God above.

Wally Gobetz, Flickr.com
Wally Gobetz, Flickr.com

Sincere prayer is asking the Father what His will is in a particular situation. It is seeking to see His goodness in the midst of heart-break.

Intercessory prayer takes those hard questions to God believing He has a good answer.  He does not give trite, pithy responses–and He does not want us to do so either. Mourning with those who mourn does not mean saying, “He‘s better off now.” Or, “It will be okay.”  Mourning with those who mourn is feeling their grief and carrying it to the Father for comfort (for yourself and others).  It is hard, painful work because life is full of horribly hard things:

Depression, suicides, cancer, terrorism, addicted loved ones, racial and social unrest, rebellious teens, victims of crime, foreclosures, homelessness, job loss, sick children … 

Intercessory prayer is NOT pity for those enduring awful things.  Pity implies God does not care or He took a break and left those folks to their own devices.  That is not truth at all.  God cares.  He is in the midst of those dark times.  He is not sitting back with His arms crossed or His finger pointing out errors.  His arms are wide open, calling the hurting hearts to Him.  They often can’t hear Him–grief and fear deafens.  Our world needs intercessors brave enough to seek His heart in those situations.  Will you pray?

Intercessory prayer is a glorious ministry that allows us to sit in the Throne Room with Christ doing the work He does every day.  To pray for another is to commit to spending time with Jesus.  Oswald Chambers says it is a fail-safe ministry to participate in:  no danger of deception or pride in true intercession.  But it requires us to face the humble truth that we cannot fix everything.  We cannot control outcomes.  The ways of God are not our ways and sometimes everything we know falls short.  Intercessory prayer takes us further into knowing our great God.  It demands that we plumb the depths of despair relentlessly, refusing to quit until the glory of God gleams through.   Will you pray?

What answers has God granted you through the work of intercession?

About Billie Jo

Billie Jo is wife to Craig and mom to Rusty and Riesa. Formerly employed in the human service industry, the past fifteen years have been dedicated to homeschooling. She is a freelance writer for a number of print and internet publications. She is also passionate about serving in the community. She works in a GED preparation ministry and a community-based servant program that provides opportunities for youth to serve others. It is passion for the love of Jesus and His transforming work that motivates her writing and serving. "I love to see God at work in the lives of others and this is the way I see best."

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  1. This is beautiful! God shows me His heart in dreams and visions and gives me strongholds to tear down. I have a couple other prophetic intercessor friends who get this in the same way. Praise Him!

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