In all of our praying the most important aspect is listening to God. This is especially true when it comes to intercessory prayer.
In the prior four posts we have focused on speaking to or with God regarding WHO God is (Praise), WHAT God does (Thanksgiving), and HOW God has determined life is to be lived (Confession).
Intercession is praying on behalf of others, calling upon God to intervene in the lives and circumstances of others. This immediately raises two questions—
1. How do I know what to pray on behalf of another?
If they are sick should I pray for their healing or for God’s grace to help them suffer the ordeal well? If they are experiencing poverty do I pray for God to supply their needs or to deepen their faith as they know God to be their true treasure?
Some would just say, “Pray that God blesses them and leave it up to Him as to how He wants to bless them.” That’s not a bad way to pray. I have prayed that way often.
However, there are those other times where God is looking to speak into our lives so that we join Him in His work in others. In other words, sometimes God wants us to not pray generally, “God bless him” but to pray specifically as God informs us to pray.
I’ve prayed for people to be healed. I’ve prayed for people to die and for Jesus to receive them into heaven. The reason I prayed so specifically was because I was “impressed” by God’s Spirit how to pray. Thus, listening is crucial for prayers of intercession.
There are many things already revealed to us in Scripture that we know to pray for others and thus we do well to pray consistently what we know. I prayed for my sons to come to saving faith in Jesus, I prayed for God to mightily contend with their hearts through adolescence for right living and I prayed for their courting and marriage to their future wives, not only through the years of their lives but even before they were born.
How do I know what to pray for others? God tells us through Scripture and through prayer.
2. Why do we intercede when God can do whatever He wants?
God involves us in His work in the lives of others because it is part of His discipleship plan for us. Paul Billheimer said it this way: “Prayer is God’s on-the-job training for us.”
Training for what? Billheimer contends that God is developing us as priests who will make a difference in the lives of others here and now, and God is developing us as His “bride” who will co-rule and co-reign with Him throughout eternity.
Intercession is worship (demonstrating our confidence in the goodness and greatness of God), work (joining God in His mission), and warfare (participating in God’s defeat of evil and the evil one).
How is it going for you three weeks into a new year of deepening your connection with God?