“With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for the saints…” (Ephesians 6:18, NASB).
“…Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12, NASB).
“In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and he was heard because of His piety.” (Hebrews 5:7, NASB).
Intercession as one form and practice in prayer has often been referred to as “standing in the gap” for someone else. As a practice, it goes beyond merely asking something for someone, but involves one of God’s children actively and passionately seeking the Father in the name of Jesus, all the while standing between the person(s) for whom you are praying and the enemy of our souls Satan, who wants to drag us down into the abyss and destructive power of sin. It’s easy for us to think of Christ doing this for us, but the wonder is that God wants us, His children, to do the same for those in need—a soul (or souls) who need salvation or a saint (or saints) who need deliverance.
This type of praying is often not glamorous and may require a long period of time before you see any results. As such, in our American culture, this kind of prayer is not popular given our “sophisticated ways”. But the Bible is full of examples where persistent intercession is called for by God and necessary for the establishment of His Kingdom. Now why God would want me or trust me for this work is sometimes beyond my understanding. I just know that He does, and as for me I want to my part. But how?
I just think one of the individual daily disciplines needs to be intercession for others. If you are like me though, this is not something that comes naturally. So, I have tried (not always successfully) to set a scheduled time to pray each day. That does not mean that I am trying to schedule God out of my prayer life, or that there won’t be more spontaneously times of prayer. God is the one in charge. But I try to set a schedule that God leads me to do and by doing so, I get in the habit of regular prayer.
Below is my schedule, but keep in mind that how God leads me to pray may not be the same as you (and keep in mind, I work as an administrator at a Christian college). Also, no one can pray for everything, but you can pray for those things that God gives you to do. The schedule:• Every day: Prayer for my wife, my children, my grandchildren and most days, prayer for those in authority.• Monday—College administration, staff, and students (often by name) and personal close friends• Tuesday—Personal time of praise, worship, and adoration of God• Wednesday—Leaders and members of my local church fellowship (by name)• Thursday—Prayer of revival over the College, local community, and our nation (varies from week to week, but I try and get specific with this)• Friday—Faculty of the College (by name)• Saturday—my extended family and local church Sunday meeting time• Sunday—day of rest (although prayer certainly takes place at church)
While individual prayer is important, collective group prayer is also important and often much more can be done and accomplished in unified church prayer than in individual prayer. As Matthew 18:19 says, “‘Again, I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have been gathered in My name, I am there in their midst.’” (NASB). This kind of prayer can be organized or happen spontaneously, but however it happens should occur with God’s leading and prompting.
While I don’t believe one type of intercessory praying is a substitute for the other, there are clear places for both. My encouragement for you is to find your place in prayer, interceding for others as God would have you to do. Let us not be like those who Isaiah referenced when he wrote that the Lord, “…saw that there was no man, And was astonished that there was no one to intercede…” (Isaiah 59:16a). Amen.