There are many ways to love our neighbor, but intercessory prayer—praying on behalf of other people—is surely one of the most powerful. In this type of prayer, we bring the person or the circumstance that troubles us before God until we can sense and be changed by God’s attitude toward that person or circumstance.
The Bible is full of examples of intercessory prayers. The prophets pray for the people of Israel. Jesus faithfully prays for his disciples. He even intercedes for those involved in his crucifixion, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). The book of Hebrews indicates that Jesus will always intercede for us (Hebrews 7:25).
Praying for others is our responsibility and our privilege.
The scriptures direct us to intercede for others. Take a few minutes to focus on each of these groups of people and hold them in prayer before God. Try to imagine God’s healing, restoration, and love as it might be expressed to each of these groups:
Intercession is not only a solitary practice. When we gather with other believers and lift up names of people and situations needing prayer, we practice corporate intercession. This also occurs when we gather with several others to pray for a troubling situation. As you gather with others, think of a place of violence, tension, or disaster that you can lift up in prayer. Each person present could offer a spoken prayer followed by silence. Close by affirming God’s ability to bring justice, to have the last word.
Our intercessions for others may take on a more active nature. We can express our intercessions through simple acts of kindness and compassion. This may include sending a note of encouragement or making a donation to an organization in the name of a friend or relative. Or, you may feel led to call someone or to speak up for those who have no voice. Is there someone God wants you to contact or something God wants you to do? Act on this leading as your prayer of intercession.