There are many people, Christian and non-Christian, who can say that if it was not for their praying mother or grandmother, they would not be in the position they are today. Said prayers are considered to be intercessory— praying to God on behalf of others. The act of intercession can be carried out for a broad spectrum of things. Whether it be praying incessantly for someone who doesn’t have the strength to pray for themselves, or simply praying for someone’s happiness, intercessory prayer is done solely for the sake of other people. Sounds simple enough, right? However, not everyone is capable of interceding on behalf of other people… in other words, not everyone can be an intercessor (SHOCK 😱!!!)
What do you mean? Aren’t Christians supposed to pray for other people? I pray for people, am I not an intercessor? What makes people who are considered intercessors different?
Before you get ready to stone me and call me a heretic, allow me to explain. Yes, Christians ought to pray for others. It’s biblical:
I Timothy 2:1-4 NKJV “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
There is one significant thing that ties together everything that intercession is and separates intercessors from people who normally pray: the heart. Intercessors have a heart for prayer, a heart for people, and are connected to the heart of God. Intercessory prayer is a gift of the Holy Spirit. It is not only birthed from the heart one has for people, but it comes from God’s heart for people. If one does not have a heart for people, they cannot truly intercede for the will and love of God on their lives with compassion. God is love. If you don’t love people, from what source do you draw from when praying for them? Everyone has the ability to pray for others, but the gift of intercession draws from one’s intimacy with the heart of God. Thus, allowing His will to be prayed over someone’s life.
The ability to intercede often works in accordance with other spiritual gifts. Many apostles, prophets, and seers are able to provide precise intercession with the assistance of their ability to see and hear in the spirit. It is also very possible to feel the heart of God for a person. Have you ever felt led to pray for a person, but have no idea why? Feeling God’s love for someone can sit heavily on the heart of an intercessor. You may not have the slightest idea of what is going on in a person’s life, but the weight of God’s love is enough to drive an intercessor to pray and speak said love over their life. This is where intercessory prayer becomes transformative. You no longer see a person with your physical eyes, but through God’s eyes, and you profess them to be who God says they are.
Isaiah 62:6-7 NKJV “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.”
The heart of an intercessor also changes and undergoes constant conformation. One cannot stay the same as they continuously encounter God and do His works. When God shares His heart and love for others with those who intercede, all feelings, views, and opinions of people must change in order to come into alliance with who God says they are. It is the love and likeness of God that allows people to sincerely pray for their enemies and those who have caused them pain. Intercessory prayer connects you to The Father, and makes you more like Him. Love and mercy must reside where hate and unforgiveness once dwelt.
Matthew 5:44-46 NKJV “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?”
An intercessor makes their heart vulnerable to the things of God and to the things of those whom they pray for. You will often hear that an intercessor can feel the pain of others. Because they are susceptible to heightened levels of empathy and sympathy, it is important for intercessors to possess a sense of spiritual awareness. If left unaware, it is quite easy for intercessors to take on the pains and burdens of others as their own. It is important to understand a person’s need for prayer, especially when they may not have the strength to pray for themselves, but it is also important to not overwhelm yourself and leave yourself open to emotional and spiritual transference.
Life as an intercessor is not always easy. Personally, I have always found it easier to pray for others more than I do for myself. Not saying that I do not cover myself when need be, I have just always felt more of a pressing to pray for others. I grew up very compassionate with a heart to help others and have always been unapologetic about it. This can be very challenging because there are times when I feel selfish for praying for my own needs and desires. There are also times when I do not have the drive to pray for myself, and I feel these things more than I would like to. Sometimes, I even came to believe that the enemy used those kinds of feelings against me in order to keep my guard down. Which led me to formulate a question that I have always asked myself:
Who intercedes for the intercessor?
Of course, the obvious human answer would be that there are always other people praying for you, but that wasn’t the answer I was seeking. It was then that God led me to the book of Romans:
Romans 8:26-28 NKJV “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
The Spirit intercedes for us on our behalf and helps us in our weaknesses… if that wasn’t a wake-up slap to the face, I don’t know what would’ve been. I couldn’t have asked for a better answer. I serve a God that knows my wants and needs, without me having to say a word. The One who formed my heart knows me. Yes, it is important to pray for yourself, but it is more than reassuring to know that in the event that you can’t, the Spirit intercedes on your behalf. There is no need or desire in your life that goes unseen and unheard. Rest assured in knowing that God got you, intercessor, and He won’t let you fall. Selah.
Prayer, the power of challenging your thinking pattern, yielding your own thoughts, and hearing God’s heart.Sy Sromanieson