Hey, my friend. This week, I want to share with you about something that is dear to my heart, and that is the ministry of intercession. In essence, praying for others, especially when they are hurting.
I remember in times past receiving a note from a friend who told me they were praying for me, whether in a card or a text message or email, and I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. During those seasons when you can hardly tell up from down, when the world is spinning and you feel like you’re going to come crashing down… or in those seasons where you feel numb or confused or heavy… knowing that someone is fighting for you in prayer just means so very much.
If you think back through Bible studies or books you’ve read about prayer, you probably know there are different kinds of prayer.
- There are prayers of supplication, which is asking God for what you need.
- There are prayers of thanksgiving, expressing your gratitude to God for what He has provided.
- There are prayers of adoration, praising God and worshiping Him for who He is.
- There are prayers of confession, where we ask for forgiveness for our sins.
- And there are prayers of intercession, praying on behalf of other people.
I call these prayers “standing between” prayers, because essentially, you are standing in the space between that person and the enemy or the hurt, and you are lifting them up before God, asking Him to act on their behalf.
More About Intercessory Prayer
When we offer intercessory prayers, we are behaving in a manner like Christ, for He, too, intercedes for us. Isn’t that amazing?
Romans 8:34 tells us that Christ is at the right hand of God, interceding for us. And Hebrews 7:25 (NLT) says that Christ “lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.”
And in 1 Timothy 2:1 (NLT), we, as believers, are invited to pray for all people, to “intercede on their behalf.” Just like Christ.
The verse that represents this best to me is from Paul’s words to the church in Rome. He wrote, “Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to join in my struggle by praying to God for me. Do this because of your love for me, given to you by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:30 NLT).
I know that when someone we care about is hurting, prayer often feels like the least effective thing we can do in the moment. It feels like we aren’t actually doing anything.
But I want to assure you that praying on behalf of someone else is one of the most powerful ways you can support someone in their season of grief or hurt.
When you intercede for someone, you intervene for her. You fight for her. You stand between her and the enemy. Using Paul’s words, you join in her struggle. You don’t let her stand alone, you don’t let her fight alone, but you join forces with her and stand together. You appeal to God for help on her behalf.
You do this because you love her. A deep, compassionate love that the Holy Spirit has given to you.
One of my favorite books on prayer is Andrew Murray’s The Ministry of Intercession. I was actually able to grab an older copy of it that was printed in 1905 in Edinburgh. Though it’s not a first edition, it’s still pretty early, and I just like old books. You can actually access the book for free online.
But in that book, Murray writes, “If we will but believe in God and His faithfulness, intercession will become to us the very first thing we take refuge in when we seek blessing for others, and the very last thing for which we cannot find time.”
Is that how you view intercession? Is that how you view praying for others? As the first thing you take refuge in? If not, why not?
Example of Intercession: Abigail
Now, I want to share a couple of examples from the Bible of individuals who interceded on behalf of others, because I think it will help us flesh out what this ministry of intercession might look like.
The first one is a woman named Abigail. You can find her story in 1 Samuel 25. Basically, Abigail’s husband Nabal is described as a crude man, ill-tempered, who was mean in his dealings with others, and he does, in fact, mistreat David and his men. David, in his anger, decides to retaliate and heads toward Nabal’s home to kill him and his men.
When Abigail hears about the situation, she steps in. She prepares food for David and his men and she rushes out to meet him before he can get to Nabal. Abigail falls at David’s feet and pleads for mercy. And David grants it.
Abigail physically put herself between David and Nabal. She literally stands between. And though Nabal does suffer the consequences of his actions, it is not at the hands of David, but of God. And David is able to leave vengeance in God’s hands.
Do you have the courage to stand between, like Abigail did?
Example of Intercession: Epaphras
So Abigail is one example of intercession, more on a physical, tangible level. Another example we have, specifically in a prayer of intercession, is a man named Epaphras.
Not much is said about him in the Scriptures. Just a couple of verses, in fact. But enough is said for us to know that this man dedicated himself to prayer—and not just prayer for himself, but for his friends.
Listen to this. Colossians 1:17 (NLT) says, “You learned about the Good News from Epaphras, our beloved co-worker. He is Christ’s faithful servant, and he is helping us on your behalf.”
So already we know that Epaphras is very much others-focused, working on their behalf. He was the one who shared the Good News with this church community.
But this is the verse that I love: Colossians 4:12 (NLT) says, “Epaphras, a member of your own fellowship and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. He always prays earnestly for you, asking God to make you strong and perfect, fully confident that you are following the whole will of God.”
Isn’t that beautiful? “He always prays earnestly for you.” Other translations say that he is “striving” for you, “laboring fervently” for you, “agonizes in his prayers” for you, “struggling in his prayers” for you.
It’s that same image we saw before in Romans 15: join in my struggle by praying to God for me.
The Joy of Intercession
Make no mistake about it, my friend, intercession is hard work. It can be a heavy work. But it can also be a joyous work.
Sometimes this might mean you are constantly remembering a friend in prayer, lifting her up to God throughout the day and whispering little words of prayer for God to help and comfort and guide.
Sometimes it might look like staying up later or getting up early so that you can pray for those in your church community who are hurting.
Sometimes intercession means declaring the truth over the enemy, doing spiritual battle on behalf of your friend. Standing guard over her.
And sometimes… sometimes it looks like sitting with Jesus, carrying your wounded friend to Him in prayer, and simply crying and joining in the hurt and sorrow and grief. Mourning with those who mourn.
What does Christ’s call to intercede look like for you in this season? Who has He given you a deep and compassionate love for? Do you struggle to pray for anyone due to your own hurt or bias or judgment?
Andrew Murray wrote, “There is a world, with its needs entirely dependent on and waiting to be helped by intercession; there is a God in heaven, with His all-sufficient supply for all those needs, waiting to be asked; there is a Church, with its wondrous calling and its sure promises, waiting to be roused to a sense of its wondrous responsibility and power.”
My question for you, my friend, is, will you let God rouse your heart to the ministry of intercession? Will you see intercession as a powerful privilege we have as believers to bring our hurting friends to Christ? And not only our hurting friends, but those who don’t know Him? Who have decided they would be better off without Him? Would you carry them to the Lord, too?
Again, it can be a heavy ministry, but oh, it can be a joyous one, too.
Thank you for being here with me today, my friend. I really appreciate you, your heart for God, and your heart for others. Know that I am praying for you. I really am. Until next time, let’s encourage one another…
- Episode 27: The Cost of Caring for Others
- Bonus Episode 1: [Guided Prayer + Meditation] Sitting with Your Friend in Her Pain
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