How many times in your life have you said to someone, “I’ll pray for you” and never actually prayed? Unfortunately, I have done this too often in my life. Intercessory prayer is praying on behalf of someone else. The Bible tells us that we as believers have Jesus (Heb 9:24) and the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:26-27) interceding on our behalf, but believers are also encouraged to pray for one another. We are going to look at three pictures of intercession.
Isaiah 62:6-7 says I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth. Watchmen in the Old Testament had two responsibilities: to warn the people of coming danger and to alert the king of whoever is approaching. The watchmen were given access to the king. How does this relate to intercessory prayer?
We also should be like watchmen praying for the world, individuals for God to use to make the world right again. Do you know that right now, just as you are, God hears you when you pray? We pray because we have been given special access to the king who hears us. We are able to see and share future danger with other people around us because we have taken the time to watch out on their behalf, as we pray for them.
When we pray for other people, it is like a shield covering over them. Paul does not give prayer a specific weapon or armor when he describes the armor of God in Ephesians 6. Paul ends the section on the armor of God with prayer and asks the church at Ephesus to pray on his behalf. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but there is a spiritual war going on around us. Prayer is our spiritual covering or shield that impacts and influences this spiritual world. Your prayers impact people. When we pray for others, they have spiritual impact we can fully know or see. Pray in faith that God uses your prayers even if you don’t know.
Every single person has influence. We can leverage this influence for the good of people or for the worst for people. Praying on behalf of those you influence is modeled to us by Jesus and by Paul. Paul in Colossians opens his letters with a prayer for the church. Through his example, he doesn’t pray for all of the places they are failing. Instead, he begins by pointing out the areas in which they are excelling and ends by painting a picture of where he wants them to be. As you pray for the people you influence, be thankful for them and what God is doing in their lives. Don’t focus on their weaknesses, but focus on what they could be and pray for God’s best for them.
— Russell Schultz