What is intercessory prayer and why is it important in the Christian’s life? Intercessory prayer is one that we offer on behalf of another. It is “standing in the gap”, pounding the gates of heaven in stead for our family, friends, our nation, our leaders, etc. It is vital for a variety of reasons:
- It shifts the focus from your circumstances to another’s.
- It allows God to honor the seed (of prayer) that you are sowing to bring a harvest in due time in your own life. (Job 42:10 and James 5:16)
- We are to carry each other’s “back packs”. (Romans 15:1)
- It is an encouragement to others to know someone else cares enough to pray.
“And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” ~ Ezekiel 22:30
First of all, we all should pray for our country, those in leadership, that righteousness will be restored and that many will turn to Christ during these last days. The story of God’s conversation with Noah when he sought for sufficient righteous (those in right living) men comes to mind. (Genesis 18) He looked for men who had a heart toward Him so he wouldn’t destroy the land. Noah repeatedly begged God not to destroy man because of his sin, and they had this “tug of war” of sorts going on. Oh, that we would rise up and be like Noah, standing in the gap for our land!
“And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” ~ Ecclesiastes 4:12
In Job 42:10 it says, “When Job prayed for his friends, his captivity was turned.” I have seen this principle work so many times in my own life. I know it works without a doubt. Whenever I need healing, I begin to pray for friends who also need healing. When we spend time in earnest prayer, asking the Great God of the Universe, Who made us and Who holds all things in His hands to intervene on another’s behalf, I believe it moves the heart of God. I believe it is at that moment we connect with our Abba Father and He is well pleased with us. When we offer prayers out of compassion and concern for others, I believe it is God’s good pleasure to pour out blessings in our own lives as well. This is not the sole reason we pray, of course, but it is a by product of intercessory prayer.
“We who are strong [in our convictions and of robust faith] ought to bear with the failings and the frailties and the tender scruples of the weak; [we ought to help carry the doubts and qualms of others] and not to please ourselves.” ~ Romans 15:1 AMP
In the above Scripture the strong are compelled to carry the weak. How do we do this? It certainly is not in our own fleshly strength. No, we must carry their needs to the Lord in prayer and place their concerns at the foot of the Cross. I love the picture I often view in my mind of a rustic altar at the foot of a huge, wooden Cross. It is there I bow my knee in prayer and offer to God all the burdens of my heart. It is there I worship God in the majesty of Who He truly is. It is there I leave the weight this world so easily bears upon my soul. And it is there I find rest in place of weariness, peace in place of angst, and hope in place of despondency.
“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” ~ James 5:16
My favorite parable of all time is the “Widow and the Unjust Judge” found in Luke 18. Here we find a persistent widow who could not be stopped. She petitioned this judge continually, and, despite the judge’s neutrality of faith, he finally granted her desire…just to shut her up! The twist in this story is that you and I are that widow, however, we do not serve a God who is unjust. No, he is ever fair. (God keeps accurate records.) We serve a just God and a high priest, who “is touched with the feelings of our infirmities”. (Hebrews 4:15) We know that if He hears our prayers (and we know that He does), He will answer. (I John 5:14-15) Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes no, and, often times, wait a while. But, rest assured, the answer will come.
“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” ~ Galatians 6:9
God is searching for one who will stand in the gap. Will it be you? No special skills required. Only faith. Faith the size of a mustard seed will do. Will it be you?