Monday, May 9, 2011

Intercessory Prayer


Part 2 in a Bible study series called Does Prayer Really Change Things?

WHAT IS INTERCESSORY PRAYER?

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved to come to the knowledge of the truth.”—Apostle Paul (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

Intercessory prayer is prayer for others.

In intercessory prayer, we act as priests, taking the needs of others before God. This is what our “great high priest” (Hebrews 4:14) does for us. “There is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 4:5). Jesus is at the right hand of God “interceding for us” (Romans 8:34; see also Hebrews 7:25).

Paul was an intercessory prayer warrior. He constantly prayed for others (Romans 1:9; 1 Corinthians 1:4; Ephesians 5:16; Philippians 1:4; Colossians 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; 2 Timothy 1:3; Philemon 1:4). In Paul’s intercessory prayers, he put spiritual needs before physical needs.

When we pray for someone facing some form of adversity, we usually pray that the adversity would be removed. However, consider that sometimes God intends for the adversity to benefit that person in some way.

WHY INTERCEDE FOR OTHERS?

“You do not have, because you do not ask”—James the brother of Jesus (James 4:2)

“Every movement of God can be traced to a kneeling figure.”—D. L. Moody

Why should we pray for others?
  1. Intercessory prayer is the duty of all Christians. “I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf” (Romans 15:30). Intercessory prayer is not the job of a special class of Christians. Paul appealed to all the "brothers [and sisters]" in Rome to pray for him.
  2. Intercessory prayer is a way of loving others. Richard Foster writes, "If we truly love people, we will desire for them far more than it is within our power to give them, and this will lead us to prayer.” How many times have you told someone, "I'll remember you in my prayers," and never did.
  3. Intercessory prayer is often answered by God. Here are three examples from Scripture: Abraham’s prayer for Sodom (Genesis 18:22-26), Moses’ prayer for Israel (Numbers 14:11-20), the church’s prayer for Peter (Acts 12:1-17).