It’s something I get asked quite a bit (not surprising considering where I work) but today, as I’ve been praying for a friend going through something rather terrible, I found myself meditating on the act of prayer. Specifically, praying for someone else. This is often called intercession. Very simply put, it means to mediate between two parties.
Christians use it with prayer when we mean to go before the Lord on behalf of someone else. We aren’t alone in this task, the Lord Himself intercedes. Check out these verses;
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53: 12 ESV
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26 ESV
The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:23-25 ESV
These Scriptures knock down and drag away my fear of praying for someone else. Jesus is all ready praying for and interceding for them and when I pray, when I carry them in my heart and ask Him to move on their behalf, I’m just joining Him in what He’s all ready doing.
I love having Him as my yoke fellow, because when I’m hitched to Him, He carries %99.99 of whatever it is that needs to be carried, and I trudge along with my %0.01 until I don’t think I can make it, and then He picks me and the remaining %0.01 and we get over the finish line together. When I pray for someone, it’s the same. I am only doing a tiny bit of the work, He’s doing the majority of it, and even if I make a mistake, He’s strong enough to correct it without ever breaking stride. Knowing this has made me bold when it comes to praying for others.
For anyone who isn’t as comfortable praying for someone else, here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way.
1.) Be yourself~if you aren’t comfortable praying out loud then tell the person you’d like to pray for them, but silently.
2.) Be specific~don’t just ask for comfort for someone who is hurting, get specific about what you would like the Lord to do ie take away pain, comfort their heart, give them rest.
3.) Be Scriptural~go through the Bible and study prayers of others as well as the promises that God gives in His word. Praying scripture back to the Lord and reminding Him of what He said He will do (within context of Scripture, course but that’s another whole post) is a fantastic way to intercede for someone.
4.) Be real~you are the one praying for the other person, not Billy Graham, not Franklin Jensen, and not Kay Arthur. You are going to choose words and phrases and ask things in your own way that are different from everyone else. That’s what makes you unique and your voice powerful when raised on behalf of someone else.
5.) Be Encouraged~you are not doing this on your own. Your Yoke fellow is strong enough to hold the universe together, and dexterous enough not to trample you underfoot. He’s got intercession mastered, and as you step out and pray for others He will be with you every step of the way.
Some books on prayer and intercession I highly recommend for further study are: