Written By M. Tiong, Malaysia, originally in Simplified Chinese
“I will pray for you.”
I believe all Christians are familiar with this sentence. It is the most common response we receive from our brothers and sisters in Christ when we share our troubles with them.
But do prayers of intercession really work? I used to doubt it. If intercession really helps, why are my non-believing relatives still resisting God? If intercession is really effective, why have the sick still not recovered? If intercession is really powerful, why are Christians around the world still being persecuted?
Moreover, isn’t God omniscient? So even if we do not pray on behalf of others, God would still know their needs, right?
Not long ago, I opened the Bible, desiring to find out more about the role and importance of intercession, or simply, what the Bible said about praying for others. The time I spent with the Word taught me five lessons. These lessons have been a tremendous encouragement to me and they urge me to reexamine my doubts towards praying for others. If you’re experiencing the same doubts as I do, I pray that the points below will help you see the importance of prayers of intercession.
1. Prayers of intercession please God
In Isaiah 59, God was astonished and displeased, for there wasn’t anyone who would help or pray and intercede for Israel. Isaiah writes, “He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm achieved salvationfor him,and his own righteousnesssustained him” (Isaiah 59:16).
If we want to please God, we ought to love others by praying for them. For example, we can attend the church’s weekly prayer meeting to pray for the needs of the church.
On a personal level, I feel disappointed with the politics and law in my country and am unhappy about some policies that are set in place. Seeing the state of my country, it is easy to just give up praying for my country. However, God used this episode in the Bible to remind me to persevere in prayer, for my prayers please Him and their is truth behind the power of praying for others.
2. Prayers of intercession were done by Jesus and His followers
Jesus taught us to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). He Himself served as an example when He prayed to the Father to forgive the people who persecuted Him. It would be easy for Jesus to curse the people who crucified Him on the cross. Instead, Jesus chose to intercede on their behalf (Luke 23:34). Jesus sets the example for us, showing us that it is possible for us to do the same.
We can also take comfort in the fact that Jesus cares for those who intercede for others. In Jesus’ three years of ministry, He answered many prayers of intercession. For example, the centurion who pleaded for his servant (Matthew 8:5-13), the synagogue leader who pleaded for his severely ill daughter (Matthew 9:18-26), the father who pleaded for his possessed son (Mark 9:14-29), and many more. Can we also follow these examples and pray for someone we know?
I have a list of people I pray for frequently. These people include my family who has yet to come to know Jesus, friends whose faith are stagnant, and children whom I support from the World Vision. And what encouraged me was to see how God answered prayers—one of my friends who has depression, started to interact with people and smile more. I was very thankful for that.
3. Prayers of intercession bring us closer to the heart of God
God has a plan in every decision He makes. The sin of the city of Sodom was so great and grievous that in His anger, God wanted to destroy the whole city (Genesis 18).
Abraham interceded for Sodom and even negotiated with God, asking God not to destroy the city if there were even 10 righteous people in it. God was not displeased with Abraham’s plea. In fact, God patiently answered him.
Perhaps, God was pleased by Abraham’s request because it showed how much he loves and treasures lives. I believe Abraham slowly began to understand that God loved man more than he does, and that as long as there is one righteous man in the city, God would spare the city.
Eventually, God sent angels to rescue Abraham’s nephew, Lot and his family, before the city of Sodom was destroyed. God showed His compassion and love once again. Therefore, when we continue to pray, we will gradually understand what the heart of God is like.
4. Prayers of intercession increase our empathy for the people we pray for
When we feel helpless and inadequate to help others overcome their difficulties, do not forget that as Christians, we have the power of prayer. We may not fully understand what a person is going through, but as we pray for them continually, we learn to put ourselves in their shoes and empathize with them.
When I pray for missionaries, I can imagine how hard it is for them to be away from home, to be alone overseas. When I pray for my persecuted brothers and sisters, I can feel their pain.
On top of that, others are encouraged to persevere in the faith when they know someone is praying for them. When we empathize with others, we demonstrate God’s love, and comfort them in their difficult times.
5. Prayers of intercession help us share each other’s burdens
Problems may not be resolved immediately after we pray for others. But the Holy Spirit can strengthen and comfort those we pray for.
When I was overseas pursuing my Masters’ degree, I was overwhelmed by the heavy load of assignments. I did not want to share my stress with my family, as I was afraid that they would worry about me. But being alone in another country, I did not have friends to talk to either. It came to a point where I wanted to give up and return to my country.
Shouldering the weight of all my burdens alone, I went to a church prayer meeting where a group of sisters prayed for me. As they prayed for me, tears flowed down my cheeks uncontrollably, and I could feel the weight of my burdens lifting.
I am now pursuing my Ph.D. Although my workload is still just as heavy and at times I feel like giving up, I know many others are praying for me and that I can always regain strength from God.
When we pray for others, we move from a self-centered focus to a love for God and people.
As our friends share their troubles with us, has it become a habit to just say “I will pray for you”, without taking any action? Has it become a convenient way to brush someone aside? We ought to treat our prayers for others seriously. Instead of saying “I will pray for you”, let us say, “Let me pray for you now”, and then immediately pray together with them!
Perhaps you have been praying for a long time and things still remain unchanged. But do not lose heart. As long as we are willing to spend time praying, it will not be in vain. May we learn to pray like Jesus did in Luke 22:42, asking for God’s will to be done and not ours. May we always remember the truth and the power of praying for others.
When “I’m Praying For You” Feels Hollow
I have a good friend who struggles with a slew of health problems. The best I can do is hug her and tell her that God is in control—whatever comfort that may be.
Share on WhatsApp
When we pray for someone else it draws us closer in relationships. Praying for your spouse, child, or friend helps them to see how much you love them. Almost no one you meet will decline being prayed over. Offering to pray for someone is a free and powerful gift you can give to anyone you meet.Why is it important to pray for the needs of the people of God? ›
God, our loving Heavenly Father, wants us to communicate with Him through prayer. He always listens to us when we pray. Daily prayer can bless you, your family, and those you pray for. It can also invite more peace into your life, help you learn more about God's plan for you, and more.Why do we pray short answer? ›
You gain strength from God Himself. Prayer is a way of inviting God to join you in life's struggles. You invite the Holy Spirit to do what He was placed within you to do.How do we pray for others? ›
Let the people know you're praying for them and ask if there's anything they would like you to pray for. When you feel it's appropriate, ask if anything has happened in their life related to their prayer requests. Find a Scripture that fits where your friends are on their spiritual journey.What does God do when we pray for others? ›
Because intercessory prayer reflects God's own character of outgoing love and mercy. God wants us to think like He does, and praying for others helps us to think beyond ourselves and to grow in compassion for others. God compares prayer with sweet-smelling incense that pleases Him (Revelation 5:8).What is it called when you pray for other people? ›
Intercession or intercessory prayer is the act of praying to a deity on behalf of others, or asking a saint in heaven to pray on behalf of oneself or for others.What does God say about praying for others? ›
15. Luke 6:27-28 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” 16. Matthew 5:44 “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”What does it mean to pray for someone? ›
1. to beseech God, or some other deity, on behalf of someone or something. I will pray for you to recover from your illness quickly.What does God say about praying for one another? ›
The Bible commands us to pray for one another, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16, ESV).What are 10 reasons to pray? ›
- of 10. Prayer Brings Us Closer to God. ...
- of 10. Prayer Brings Divine Help. ...
- of 10. Prayer Keeps Our Selfishness in Check. ...
- of 10. We Gain Forgiveness Through Prayer. ...
- of 10. Prayer Gives Us Strength. ...
- of 10. Prayer Changes Our Attitude. ...
- of 10. Prayer Inspires Hope. ...
- of 10. Prayer Reduces Stress.
Any time you want or need to talk with God, that's when you should pray. Any place you need to feel the influence of His love, that's where you should pray. You don't have to wait for the perfect time or place (or the perfect you). Just pray.How does prayer connect us with others? ›
Prayer Connects Us With The Creator
pray in the name of Jesus coming to God, coming to our Creator in the name of His Son, the Lord Jesus." He continued by saying, "God Himself invites us....into a relationship with Himself and so the way we communicate with Him is through prayer....
"We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you" (Col. 1:3 NKJ). If you want your prayers answered, you should pray to God, the Father, using the name of Jesus (His good standing).Why is it hard to pray for others? ›
Sometimes as we face our struggles we can find it hard to pray for the needs of others. Whether that's because we are distracted by our own problems. Or because we find it hard enough to go to God about our own issues. So we can't imagine taking other's issues to Him as well.Does the Bible say we should pray for others? ›
1 Timothy 2:1, NLT I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Job 42:10, NIV After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.What is the most important thing to pray for? ›
Perhaps the most important thing to pray every day is for God's will to be done in your life. Imagine if every believer prayed this (and meant it) and sought to accomplish God's purpose for that day. This would alleviate many of the issues I mentioned earlier because we would be centered in on what God wants us to do.What should we pray for? ›
Thank God for What He Has Done. Pray that You Remember God's Love and Grace for You. Pray That You Would Love Your Neighbors. Talk to God About Someone in Need.Why is it important to pray daily? ›
Prayer is your conversation with God and how you can develop a personal, meaningful relationship with the God of the universe who loves you. It's how he can do miracles in your heart. Through prayer, he can bring your life into alignment with his vision and plans.What does the Bible teach about praying for others? ›
The Bible commands us to pray for one another, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16, ESV). God manifests Himself in many ways when praying together and for each other.Who should we pray for? ›
Your enemies and those who persecute you
Matthew 5:44 specifically calls for you to “pray for those who persecute you.” This idea echoes Proverbs 25:21-22 (NIV) which says: “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.