Praying for Others - 1
Christians are called to be people of prayer. The Bible instructs us to “pray constantly” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). When it comes to this duty, many believers falter. Two excuses are most common. The first is an issue of time. “I’m too busy!”, many exclaim. I agree with one author who argued that we are too busy not to pray. If God has taught us to pray, we must find time. If we are too busy to do what God has ordained, we are simply too busy. We need to rearrange our priorities.
A second excuse I often hear deals with content. Many feel they don’t know what to pray. I can relate to this concern. I remember being a new believer and not knowing what to say. When I tried to pray, it seemed as if my mind was “tabula rasa” — a blank slate. Over time, I learned that there are several different forms of prayers in which we can engage (see Philippians 4:6-7). We can pray prayers of praise, thanksgiving, supplication, confession, and intercession. Using categories like these as an outline can bring freshness and focus to our prayer life.
In using this strategy, I discovered that intercession is especially important. The title for this form of prayer comes from a Latin word which strictly means “a coming between.” It depicts the act of one intervening on behalf of another. In regard to prayer, it conveys the act of praying for another person. Are you currently engaged in this type of praying? If not, consider a few important truths from Scripture. I believe these will encourage you to make intercession a habit in your life.
The Precedent of Intercession —
As Christians, we are called to model the life of Jesus (see Hebrews 12:1-2). When we look at the way Jesus lived, we see that He regularly prayed for others. In fact, His ministry could be viewed as one giant act of intercession. The author of Hebrews said that Jesus “always lives to intercede for” His people (see Hebrews 7:25). Shortly before His death, He modeled intercessory prayer by praying for us (see John 17:20-23).
The Priority of Intercession —
In 1 Timothy 2:1, Paul said, “I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone.” With vehemence and a sense of urgency, the apostle encouraged believers to make intercession a part of their prayer routine. We need to see our responsibility in this area. God knows what we need, and He has called us to pray on behalf of others. Through engaging in such prayer, we kill the soul-disease of self-love, and we practically lead our hearts to love others (see Luke 9:23 and Matthew 22:39).
The Person of Intercession —
When we commit ourselves to praying for people, unseen forces work behind the scenes, powerfully orchestrating God’s sovereign purposes. The Third Person of the Trinity helps us by prompting us to pray as we should. He also intervenes on our behalf, carrying our prayers to the Father (see Romans 8:26-27 and Revelation 5:8). You may not feel like your utterances are effective, but have faith. God will powerfully work through your diligence in this area. Do what you must. Set aside time, make lists, and get serious about praying for others.
Dr. Patrick Latham