Saturday, May 9, 2009

Intercessory Prayer

Intercessory prayer is simply praying on behalf of other people. The Full Life Study Bible defines it as "holy, believing, persevering prayer whereby someone pleads with God on behalf of another or others who desperately need God's intervention". The Biblical basis for this is that we are a royal priesthood, and may play a role as mediator - not based in our own holiness or goodness but that of Christ.

Sometimes intercessory prayer is called "Standing in the Gap" - based on a passage in Ezekiel 22:30 where judgment came due to lack of such prayer - "Because the Lord God did not find anyone to 'stand in the gap,' to intercede for the land, He was requited to pour out the judgment due its disobedience." This is serious stuff. You can find many references in the Bible to intercessory prayer, how it is a great responsibility, how it makes a difference, how God Himself seeks faithful intercessors, and how some are specially gifted with faith and passion for this kind of prayer.

The Bible also gives several specific people who should be the focus of regular intercessory prayer:
- Leaders and government authorities (I Tim 2:1-2)
- The people of God (Joel 2:12-13; Romans 1:9; Eph 6:18)
- Our pastors and those in spiritual leadership (2 Cor 1:11; 1 Thess 5:25; Heb 13:17f)
- Our community and our nation (Ps 112:6; Jer 29:7; Dan 9:3)

Typically the intercessor doesn't just work through a list (though that can be helpful at times), instead carrying out a real burden to intercede, perhaps fasting, and with much patience and determination.

Whatever your specific approach, do not neglect praying for others, especially your neighbors and friends, those you love, those who have not heard the gospel, and those whose leadership will affect many people.

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