We often find ourselves so helpless when we see others struggling with their problems. We wish that we could do something to alleviate their situation. However, as believers, we should not feel this way. Even if we cannot do anything within our power, we can certainly lift their situations up to God through prayers. We should not discount the power of intercessory prayers. In fact, the apostle Paul revealed that one of the keys to enjoying our life is to intercede for everyone. He said, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone–for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Tim. 2:1-2). When we intercede, we intervene through prayers on behalf of someone else, that God may bless them.
If there is anyone who has been praying and interceding for us, it is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us, “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” (Heb. 7:25). As believers, the Lord will not leave us nor forsake us. He will be with us not only in good times but also in our moments of trouble. Even when we feel so unworthy to come before God because of our sins, he will not abandon us. The apostle Paul said, “Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (Rom. 8:34). Yes, there is no condemnation when we are in Christ. He will forgive and restore us as he intercedes for us.
But what does intercessory prayer involve? It involves the presentation of requests or petitions. The apostle Paul said, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Phil. 4:6).When presenting our petition, we have to agree on what to pray for and be specific. Jesus said, “I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven” (Matt 18:19).
It also involves repentance. Since sin is a hindrance to prayers as it separates us from God, we need to repent of our sins. The Lord said to King Solomon, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14). As we seek to intercede for others, we ourselves should be free from sin, otherwise we will fail. In his case, Nehemiah prayed: “Let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father's house, have committed against you” (Neh. 1:6).
Intercessory prayer also involves adoration. Before we offer our prayers, we come to God in worship. We worship him for who he is and believe that he will do what he says he will do. The Lord quickly delivered Paul and Silas when they worshipped him. We are told, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose” (Acts 16:25-26). Similarly, the Lord brought great deliverance for Israel as they started to worship him: “As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated” (2 Chron. 20:22).
Finally, it involves the yielding of our will. While we can ask God for anything, we need to give him the liberty to answer our prayers according to his will. We cannot insist on what we are asking for. To do so might only lead to an unanswered prayer. The apostle James said, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3). This is the reason the apostle John said, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14).
The importance of intercessory prayer cannot be overemphasized. Lot and his family were spared from destruction when God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of the intercession of Abraham. God said to Abraham, "If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake" (Gen. 18:26). God found Lot and his family righteous. Therefore, let us pray that our loved ones be right before God so that they too will be spared. Amen.