What is an Intercessory Prayer?
There are three main facets of a prayer of intercession: who is praying; to whom, and for whom?
A prayer of intercession happens when one party or person prays exclusively to the Lord God for another party or person concerning some particular state or action.
It’s an exclusive prayer to God on the behalf of someone or a nation. Therefore, it goes well beyond just praying to the Lord God on behalf of another.
Additionally, intercessory prayer is different from all other prayers in one respect. This unique feature we shall establish and explore below in detail.
Nevertheless, intercession is not always a request for sometimes it takes another form.
So, you desire to know the secrets of intercessions, then I will reveal them in this Bible Study.
Don’t Confuse Supplications With Intercessions
Many people, the majority of them Christians and some non-Christians, are confusing supplications with intercessions!
But the chief distinction between them is quite simple. Once you identify it then all the other features will manifest for you to verify!
What Is Intercessory Prayer According To The Bible?
However, we cannot scripturally answer the question, “what is a prayer of intercession“, if we don’t know how an intercessor functions?
However, in the Holy Bible, the meaning of intercessor is very clear.
Who Is an Intercessor?
He’s always a person who “stands [s] in the gap” in prayer before God for a people or nation (Ezekiel 22:30).
This means that the intercessor is the “middle man” or woman between the Lord God and the person, persons, or nation in question.
For example, Queen Esther was the “middle woman” between God and her nation. She was the woman in the gap for Israel when Haman planned to destroy all Jews. Esther 7:1-10.
As a result, God would accept the actions but mainly the prayers of the person standing in the gap for the sins and for the petitions of such a nation.
Thus, when such an intercessor stands in the gap in prayer for a nation God will accept his petition like it was the nation praying.
Intercessory prayer; therefore, is proxy prayer or prayer by proxy.
Likewise, it’s this feature, of this type of prayer, that makes a leader who does it so effective!
Features of Prayer of Intercession
In the examples that follow we shall observe the key features of intercession. And not just intercessions but effective intercessions.
First, Elijah, the prophet of God, was complaining to the Lord about what Israel had done and how he was alone and feared for his life because they are seeking to take it.
Read about it in 1 Kings 19:1-21 and Romans 11:1-2.
“God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? [H]ow he maketh intercession to God against Israel saying,” (Romans 11:1).
Why is Intercessory Prayer So Important?
“Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life,” (Romans 11:2).
Here we observed Elijah making a prayer of intercession to the Lord concerning Israel, but it was not a request, but a complaint.
He was in the position of an intercessor for he was between the Lord God and Israel.
For he was standing in the gap between the Lord and His people.
The Lord explains the position of an intercessor to His prophet. He says:
“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).
Therefore, without intercessory prayer, a person, or persons, or a nation could face the wrath of God. This type of petition appeases God.
3 Main Categories of Intercessors
Owning to the unique position of an intercessor as the middle man, we will discover that he falls into one of three broad categories: either as a man, as Christ Jesus, or as the Holy Ghost.
What Does It Mean to Make a Prayer of Intercession?
Seeing that the Lord God couldn’t find an intercessor in the earth He had to become one. He became Jesus Christ.
Frequently, I see various accounts of people on Social Media who are afflicted by terminal sicknesses and diseases. Often, others are requesting prayers on their behalf.
Should you accept such an offer to pray for them you would be making intercessory prayers. You would be petitioning God on the behalf of someone besides yourself!
When we intercede to the Lord for someone or a nation, we are asking God to accept our petitions for those we are interceding for as if that party is praying.
In some cases, the party we are interceding to God for is unable to pray. Such a person could be unconscious, say in a coma.
Or such a person is unaware of the great power of prayer. And of course, some don’t know how to pray.
Nevertheless, everyone could make an intercessory prayer. But everyone is not an intercessor. An intercessor takes on to him/herself the spiritual burden of the party in need of intercession.
This could have been the situation with Elijah, why he complained to God concerning Israel.
Who Makes Intercessory Prayer For Humanity?
Seeing that the Lord couldn’t find a man in the “land” to stand in the gap in prayer for Israel he sent one.
And that “man” is Jesus Christ the Son of God. He intercedes on the behalf of people who believe that he is the Son of God!.
In heaven, Christ Jesus is our High Priest. He continually makes intercessions for us if we come to God by his words.
“Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”Isaiah 53:12
He interceded to the Lord God on our behalf concerning the Sin of the World. This is the sin of Adam that all humanity inherited.
His actions ensure that Believers are always righteous in the eyes of the Lord.
“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”Hebrews 7:25
How Does The Holy Ghost Assists Us?
So, as human beings, we empathize and we feel the pains of others, and we pray for them and Christ Jesus, the resurrected and exalted Savior, makes continual offerings in heaven for our sins; nevertheless, it’s the working of the Holy Ghost as our intercessor that is mind-blowing!
He compensates for our shortcomings as human beings when we pray.
“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26).
While we are praying, as mortals, we miss the mark because we don’t know what to pray for.
It is then, that the “Spirit” steps in and makes “intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered”.
This intercessory working of the Holy Ghost ensures that all our prayers, made by Him on our behalf, are in agreement with the will of God.
This means that He’s happy with us and that He accepts us as righteous because of the working of the Holy Ghost on our behalf!
Paul Assists With a Prayer of Intercession
As a result, Paul assists us to comprehend the spiritual workings, of it, on our behalf, for he writes: “And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God,” (Romans 8:27).
In conclusion, as long as we are praying, the Holy Ghost is praying with and for us. And even when we pray to the Lord, ignorantly of what we should be making supplication for, the Holy Ghost makes intercession to God for us keeping our prayers in the will of God. Glory!
So, how must we pray? Without ceasing!
Examples of Intercessory Prayer in the Bible
The following scripture is the sole reference to intercessions in the Holy Bible.
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;”
“For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
Nevertheless, there are few examples of men making intercessions, in the Scriptures, and we could learn the secrets of it from them.
Listen as the Lord informs Jeremiah that he will not accept his intercession for a sinful Israel.
“Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee” (Jeremiah 7:16).
However, note that when Abraham prayed for King Abimelech of Gerar, he made no petition for himself.
His entire prayer was about the King because he was making intercession to the Lord on his behalf (Genesis 20:1-18).
Intercession in The Bible — Moses Prayed For the People!
Next, let’s examine the intercession of Moses for his people, the Children of Israel (Numbers 21:5-9).
They spoke against Moses and God. As a result, the Lord sent venomous vipers amongst them that bit them and many of them died (Numbers 21:6).
“Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people” (Number 21:7).
Moses was an intercessor for Israel for he prayed for them, but he didn’t pray that the Lord remove the snakes.
Instead, he prayed for their sin. Then the Lord gave Moses the antidote for anyone bitten by these snakes.
“And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live” (Numbers 21:8).
Note, from the Scriptures above that Moses was the man standing in the gap for Israel.
Observe too that he didn’t pray for himself, for, he only prayed for his people, Israel.
“And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived” (Numbers 21:9).
What is The Difference Between Prayer and Intercession?
An intercession is any petition a person makes to the Lord God for another person or persons. It’s the most selfless prayer. A prayer–or a petition–is any request a person makes to the Lord God. Therefore, an intercession is also a prayer.
The main difference between a prayer and an intercession is this, a prayer is more general. It could be a request for self or others.
But an intercessory is more focused. It’s never a petition for oneself! It’s always for another person or persons and made for something specific, like healing, safe travel, or the birth of a baby, etc.
Even though the Bible encourages us to pray for those in authority every intercessory prayer we make must be specific to see results.
Consequently, don’t just pray for your leaders but name them! Say their names in your prayers to God.
For example, I pray that President Joe Biden, of the United States, will believe on Jesus Christ as the Only Begotten Son of God and serve him!
So in making an intercessory prayer, “the what” is not always a request but it could be a complaint as Elijah demonstrated.
However, predominantly, it’s a request to the Lord God on the behalf of a person or persons, to act favorably for them.
What Is The Distinguishing Feature of Intercessory Prayer?
Nevertheless, the most distinguishing aspect of intercessory prayer is its exclusivity. An intercessor doesn’t pray for him or herself; instead, such a one prays exclusively for another person or persons.
On the other hand, a person who makes supplication prayers prays first for him or herself and then petitions the Lord God for another person or nation.
Since the intercessor is not praying for self then the prayer of intercession is the most selfless prayer. For that reason, Jesus is the only person who qualifies to make intercession for all sinners (Isaiah 53:12).
He had no need to pray for himself for he is sinless. The Scriptures, speaking of Jesus Christ describe his intercession.
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Hi, thank you for explaining what is a prayer of intercession. Before reading your Bible study I was confused. So, thanks for clearing it u p for me!
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