In intercessory prayer, an individual or a group of people pray on behalf of others, seeking God’s intervention or guidance for their needs, challenges or concerns. It often involves making specific requests of God, such as healing for the sick, comfort for the grieving, guidance for those facing difficult decisions or protection for those in harm’s way. The intercessor acts as a mediator between the individuals or situations in need and the divine, making heartfelt appeals for their well-being or resolving their problems.
This kind of prayer is an act of compassion, selflessness, solidarity and faith. When we intercede for someone, we focus on their needs and put our trust in God to change circumstances. Intercessory prayer can be practiced by a group of like-minded believers who ask for God’s help or an individual privately praying on someone else’s behalf.
Here are four tips for meaningful intercessory prayer.
1. Educate yourself about specific needs
You don’t always have the luxury of understanding a situation before you come to God in prayer. That’s completely ok. After all, God is intimately aware of the situation and the specific needs. But whether you’re praying for a country or a person, it’s helpful to know as much as possible (while respecting the boundaries of the individuals and situations involved), so you can pray with purpose.
Understanding the topic you’re praying for offers a few benefits:
- It helps you pray specific, targeted prayers
- It helps you become more aware of and compassionate about the needs involved
- It alerts you to areas where you can be helpful and attentive to ways that God can use you in the situation
2. Pray as specifically as possible
In Mark 10:46–52, Jesus is stopped by a blind man named Bartimaeus. The man had been begging for Jesus to have mercy on him. And Jesus asked him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” Think about that for a moment. Even the average person who isn’t God would know what this man needs, but Jesus wants him to ask. Why?
It’s one thing to ask the Lord to have mercy on us or to bless us. It requires an act of faith to ask for a particular miracle. Jesus wanted Bartimaeus to demonstrate audacious faith by asking the Lord to do something specific. So he responded, “I want to see.” And Jesus responded by telling him that his faith had healed him.
Praying specific prayers helps us:
- Define the particular needs
- Emphasize our dependence upon God
- Become aware of how prayers are answered
- Grow our faith
3. Ask that God’s will is done
While we definitely want to be specific about how we’d like to see God intervene in a situation, we’re also cognizant of the fact that we don’t have all the answers—but God does. Intercession is a balancing act of asking the Lord to move in specific ways while recognizing that His will might require a different approach or outcome.
4. Look for ways God might want to use you
Intercession is a vital part of walking with God, but it isn’t an alternative to loving service. We need to remember that sometimes we’re God’s answer to prayer. So as we educate ourselves about needs and pray specifically for God to meet them, we need to listen to the ways God might prompt us to respond.
We may be praying for God to intervene on behalf of a friend in a health crisis, and the Spirit might encourage us to drive them to appointments or help them around the house. Or maybe you’re interceding for a particular region that’s closed to the gospel, and the Lord would encourage you to support a ministry organization seeking to make inroads into that area.
Praying for God’s will to be done requires acknowledging that our involvement may be part of His strategy.
Praying for the Least Reached
At Jesus Film Project, we believe prayer is critical for ensuring Jesus Film Project’s ministry remains focused on fulfilling the Great Commission as effectively as possible. To that end, we’re in our second year focused on praying for the twelve least-reached nations on earth. Every month we choose a new country to focus on.
If you’re interested in interceding with us for countries that need access to the gospel, visit the prayer page at jesusfilm.org to learn about the specific country we’re praying for each month, download a family prayer packet or an individual prayer guide, and pray for worldwide transformation.