The Power of Intercessory Prayer - Bible Study 7

The Prayer of Intercession – Prayer Bible Study 7

Pastor Duke Taber

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Introduction

In the Christian life, prayer is not merely a means of seeking personal blessings or comfort; it is a powerful tool for effecting change in the world and in the lives of others. One of the most significant and transformative types of prayer is the prayer of intercession, in which we stand in the gap for others, pleading with God on their behalf and believing for His intervention and grace in their lives.

Intercession is a beautiful expression of the love and compassion that should characterize the people of God. It is a recognition that we are all part of a community of faith, and that we have a responsibility to bear one another’s burdens and to support one another through prayer. As the apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

The prayer of intercession is rooted in the very nature and character of God Himself. Throughout the Scriptures, we see God’s heart of love and concern for His people, and His desire to bring healing, restoration, and redemption to a broken world. We also see numerous examples of men and women who interceded on behalf of others, pleading with God for His mercy and grace.

In the Old Testament, we see figures like Abraham, Moses, and Daniel interceding for their people, even when those people had turned away from God. In the New Testament, we see Jesus Himself interceding for His disciples and for all who would believe in Him. And we see the early church gathered in prayer, interceding for one another and for the spread of the gospel.

As followers of Christ, we are called to follow in these footsteps and to make intercession a regular part of our prayer lives. We are called to stand in the gap for our families, our friends, our communities, and our world, believing that God hears our prayers and is able to work in mighty ways.

In this study, we will explore the biblical foundations of the prayer of intercession, examining key passages and principles that shed light on the nature and power of this type of prayer. We will consider the various ways in which we can intercede for others, as well as the attitudes and approaches that should characterize our prayers.

We will also discuss the benefits of intercession, both for those being prayed for and for those who pray. We will see how intercession deepens our compassion and love for others, strengthens our faith and trust in God, and brings transformation and healing in the lives of those around us.

Finally, we will offer practical suggestions for incorporating intercession into our daily prayer lives, providing tools and strategies for making this type of prayer a regular and meaningful part of our spiritual practice.

As we embark on this exploration of the prayer of intercession, may our hearts be open to the leading and empowering of the Holy Spirit. May we embrace our call to stand in the gap for others, and may we see the mighty hand of God at work in response to our prayers. And may we find ourselves transformed in the process, growing in love, compassion, and Christlikeness as we intercede for those around us.

The Prayer of Intercession - Prayer Bible Study 7

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Biblical Foundations of Intercession

The practice of intercession is deeply rooted in the Scriptures, with numerous examples and teachings that highlight the significance and power of praying for others. From the Old Testament to the New, we see God’s people standing in the gap for their communities, pleading with God for His mercy, grace, and intervention.

One of the earliest examples of intercession in the Bible is found in the story of Abraham and Sodom in Genesis 18. When God revealed His plan to destroy the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham began to intercede on behalf of the righteous people who might be living there.

With great boldness and humility, Abraham approached God and asked, “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked?” (Genesis 18:23). He then proceeded to negotiate with God, asking if He would spare the city if fifty righteous people were found, then forty-five, then forty, and so on, until he reached the number ten.

What is remarkable about this story is not only Abraham’s boldness in approaching God, but also God’s willingness to listen and respond to his intercession. We see a God who is merciful and compassionate, who desires to save rather than destroy, and who invites His people to participate in His redemptive work through prayer.

Another powerful example of intercession in the Old Testament is found in the life of Moses. After the Israelites had sinned by worshipping the golden calf, God’s anger burned against them, and He threatened to destroy them and start over with Moses.

But Moses interceded on behalf of the people, pleading with God to remember His covenant promises and to forgive their sin. He even offered to have his own name blotted out of God’s book if it would save the Israelites (Exodus 32:32).

Again, we see a God who is moved by the intercession of His servant and who relents from His anger in response to Moses’ prayer. We also see the depth of Moses’ love and concern for his people, and his willingness to sacrifice himself for their sake.

In the New Testament, we see Jesus Himself modeling the prayer of intercession. In John 17, we find His famous “High Priestly Prayer,” in which He intercedes for His disciples and for all who would come to believe in Him.

With great love and compassion, Jesus prays for His followers to be protected from the evil one, to be sanctified in the truth, and to be united in love. He also prays for their mission in the world, asking that they would be sent out as He was sent, to bring glory to the Father and to draw all people to Himself.

Jesus’ prayer is a beautiful example of the heart of intercession – a heart that is deeply concerned for the well-being and spiritual growth of others, and that desires to see God’s purposes fulfilled in their lives. It is a prayer that is focused not on personal needs or desires, but on the needs of others and the advancement of God’s kingdom.

The apostle Paul also emphasizes the importance of intercession throughout his letters to the early church. In 1 Timothy 2:1-4, he writes:

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Paul’s words highlight the scope and significance of intercession. We are called to pray not only for those close to us, but for all people, including those in positions of authority and influence. We are to pray for their salvation, for their spiritual growth, and for the impact they can have in the world for the sake of the gospel.

Reflective Questions:

  1. – What do the examples of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Paul teach us about the nature and power of intercession?
  2. – How can we cultivate a heart of compassion and concern for others that moves us to intercede on their behalf?

The Benefits of Intercession

The practice of intercession is not only a means of blessing and supporting others, but it also brings significant spiritual benefits to those who engage in it. When we regularly pray for others, standing in the gap for their needs and believing for God’s intervention in their lives, we experience a deepening of our own faith, a growth in our love and compassion, and a greater sense of purpose and partnership with God.

Deepening Our Faith and Trust in God

One of the primary benefits of intercession is that it deepens our faith and trust in God. When we pray for others, we are acknowledging our dependence on God and our belief in His power to work in their lives. We are choosing to look beyond our own limitations and to place our hope and confidence in Him.

As we intercede for others, we may face situations that seem impossible or insurmountable. We may be praying for someone’s healing from a terminal illness, for the restoration of a broken relationship, or for the salvation of a hardened heart. In these moments, we are challenged to trust in God’s sovereignty and goodness, even when we cannot see the outcome.

But as we persevere in prayer, believing that God is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20), we find our faith growing stronger. We learn to rest in His promises and to trust in His timing, even when the answers to our prayers are delayed or different than we expected.

Intercession also helps us to develop a greater awareness of God’s heart and purposes for the world. As we pray for others, we begin to see them through His eyes of love and compassion. We become more attuned to the needs and struggles of those around us, and we start to desire His will and His kingdom above our own.

In the process, we may find ourselves praying for things that we would never have thought to pray for on our own – for the salvation of a nation, for the ending of injustice and oppression, for the healing of the brokenhearted. As we align our prayers with God’s heart, we find our own hearts being transformed and our faith being stretched in new and powerful ways.

Growing in Love and Compassion

Another significant benefit of intercession is that it helps us to grow in love and compassion for others. When we regularly pray for someone, bringing their needs and struggles before the throne of grace, we cannot help but be moved by their situation and to desire their well-being.

Intercession requires us to step outside of ourselves and our own concerns, and to focus on the needs of others. It calls us to empathize with their pain, to bear their burdens, and to desire God’s best for them. In the process, we find our hearts being softened and our capacity for love and compassion being expanded.

This growth in love is not just a feeling or sentiment, but a tangible expression of the love of Christ. As we intercede for others, we are participating in the very heart of God, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4). We are acting as conduits of His grace and mercy, believing for His intervention and transformation in their lives.

Intercession also has the power to break down barriers and to bring reconciliation in relationships. When we pray for those who have hurt us, for those with whom we disagree, or for those we find difficult to love, we are opening the door for God to work in our own hearts and to bring healing and restoration.

As we pray, we may find our own attitudes and perspectives being challenged and changed. We may begin to see the other person through the eyes of Christ, recognizing their inherent dignity and value as one created in the image of God. We may find ourselves being led to forgive, to extend grace, and to seek understanding and reconciliation.

In this way, intercession becomes a means of living out the love and unity that Christ desires for His body. It helps us to break down the walls of division and to build bridges of compassion and understanding, as we stand together in prayer for one another.

Partnering with God in His Purposes

A third benefit of intercession is that it allows us to partner with God in His purposes for the world. When we pray for others, we are not simply asking God to intervene in their lives, but we are actively participating in His redemptive work.

God has chosen to work through the prayers of His people to accomplish His will on earth. He invites us to be co-laborers with Him, to join our faith with His power, and to see His kingdom come and His will be done in the lives of those around us.

Intercession is a way of aligning ourselves with God’s heart and purposes. It is a means of discerning His will and seeking His guidance for the situations and people we are praying for. As we spend time in His presence, listening for His voice and surrendering our own agendas, we become more attuned to His leading and more effective in our prayers.

We also become more aware of the spiritual battles that are being waged around us, and the importance of our prayers in those battles. Intercession is not just a nice sentiment or a religious duty, but a powerful weapon in the fight against the forces of darkness that seek to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).

As we intercede for others, we are standing in the gap, pushing back the darkness and claiming God’s victory and blessings on their behalf. We are declaring His truth and His promises over their lives, and believing for His power to break through in mighty ways.

In this way, intercession becomes a means of fulfilling our purpose as the people of God. We are not just spectators in God’s kingdom, but active participants, using the authority and access we have been given through Christ to impact the world for His glory.

Reflective Questions:

  1. – How have you experienced a deepening of your faith and trust in God through the practice of intercession?
  2. – In what ways has intercession helped you to grow in love and compassion for others, particularly those who are difficult to love?
  3. – How does the understanding of intercession as partnership with God in His purposes change or enhance your perspective on prayer?

Practical Ways to Incorporate Intercession into Your Prayer Life

Incorporating the practice of intercession into our daily prayer lives is essential for experiencing the many benefits of this spiritual discipline and for seeing God’s power at work in the lives of others. Here are some practical ways to make intercession a regular and meaningful part of your prayer life:

Keep a Prayer Journal

One helpful tool for intercession is to keep a prayer journal specifically for the needs and requests of others. This can be a separate journal from your personal prayer journal, or a section within your existing journal dedicated to intercession.

In this journal, you can record the names of people you are praying for, along with their specific needs and requests. You can also include any scriptures or promises that you are claiming on their behalf, as well as any insights or direction you receive from God as you pray.

Keeping a prayer journal for intercession helps to keep your prayers focused and intentional. It allows you to track the progress of your prayers over time, and to see how God is working in response to your intercession. It also serves as a reminder to continue praying for those on your list, even when you may not see immediate results.

To start an intercessory prayer journal, begin by asking God to lay specific people and needs on your heart. You may also want to reach out to friends, family members, or church leaders to ask if there are any prayer requests they would like you to include.

As you pray through your journal each day, take time to listen for God’s guidance and direction. Pay attention to any scriptures or promises that come to mind, and record them in your journal as a source of encouragement and faith.

Over time, your intercessory prayer journal can become a powerful testimony of God’s faithfulness and a tool for strengthening your own prayer life as well as the lives of those you are praying for.

Pray the News

Another practical way to incorporate intercession into your prayer life is to pray the news. With the constant stream of information and events happening around the world, it can be easy to become overwhelmed or discouraged by the state of our world. But as followers of Christ, we have the privilege and responsibility to intercede for the needs and challenges facing our communities and our planet.

One way to pray the news is to choose a specific news source or media outlet that you trust, and commit to praying through the headlines and stories each day. As you read or listen to the news, ask God to give you His heart and perspective on the events and people involved.

You may want to focus your intercession on specific areas of need, such as government leaders, international conflicts, natural disasters, or social justice issues. You can pray for wisdom and guidance for those in authority, for peace and reconciliation in areas of conflict, for provision and healing for those affected by disasters, and for God’s truth and love to prevail in the face of injustice and oppression.

As you pray, remember that God is sovereign over all the affairs of men, and that He is able to work in ways we cannot see or understand. Pray with faith and confidence, trusting that God hears your prayers and is able to bring about His purposes for the world.

Join or Start a Prayer Group

Another powerful way to incorporate intercession into your prayer life is to join or start a prayer group specifically focused on praying for others. This can be a small group of friends who meet regularly to pray for one another and for the needs of your community, or a larger group organized through your church or ministry.

The power of praying together with others cannot be overstated. When we join our faith and our prayers with those of other believers, we are tapping into the synergy and strength that comes from unity in the body of Christ. We are also providing mutual encouragement and accountability as we intercede for others.

To start a prayer group, begin by prayerfully considering who God might be calling you to partner with in this endeavor. Reach out to those individuals and share your vision for a group focused on intercession. Set a regular time and place to meet, and commit to praying for one another and for the needs of your community.

During your prayer meetings, take time to share specific prayer requests and needs, as well as any scriptures or promises that you feel led to pray over one another. Encourage each member of the group to keep a prayer journal and to record any answers to prayer or insights from God.

As you pray together, be open to the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Allow Him to direct your prayers and to bring unity and alignment to your group. And trust that as you intercede for others, God will be working in powerful ways to bring about His purposes and to draw people to Himself.

Practice Listening Prayer

A final practical way to incorporate intercession into your prayer life is to practice listening prayer. This is a form of prayer that focuses on quieting our own thoughts and agendas in order to hear from God and discern His heart and direction for those we are praying for.

Listening prayer involves creating space in our prayer time to simply be still before God and to invite Him to speak to us. It requires a posture of openness and humility, a willingness to lay aside our own ideas and desires in order to receive His.

As we practice listening prayer, we may find that God brings specific people or situations to mind that He wants us to intercede for. We may receive a scripture or a word of encouragement that we can pray over someone. We may feel led to reach out to someone and offer our support or prayers in a tangible way.

Listening prayer is not about seeking a mystical experience or a special revelation from God. Rather, it is about attuning our hearts to His heart, and allowing Him to guide and direct our intercession. It is about learning to pray in alignment with His will and His purposes, rather than our own.

To practice listening prayer, start by setting aside a specific time and place where you can be alone with God. Begin by quieting your mind and heart, and inviting the Holy Spirit to guide and direct your prayers. You may want to spend a few moments in worship or thanksgiving, focusing your attention on God’s goodness and faithfulness.

As you pray, ask God to bring to mind the people or situations that He wants you to intercede for. Pay attention to any thoughts, impressions, or scriptures that come to mind, and write them down in your prayer journal.

Then, take time to pray over each person or situation, asking God to work in mighty ways and to bring about His purposes. Pray with faith and confidence, trusting that God hears your prayers and is able to do far more than you can ask or imagine.

As you practice listening prayer regularly, you may find that your intercession becomes more focused, more powerful, and more in line with God’s heart and will. You may also find that your own heart is transformed in the process, as you learn to listen for His voice and to trust in His guidance.

Reflective Questions:

  1. – Which of these practical suggestions for incorporating intercession into your prayer life resonates most with you, and why?
  2. – How might keeping a prayer journal, praying the news, joining a prayer group, or practicing listening prayer enhance your practice of intercession?
  3. – What other creative ways can you think of to make intercession a regular and meaningful part of your prayer life?

Conclusion

The prayer of intercession is a vital and transformative practice in the life of a believer, one that enables us to partner with God in His redemptive work and to see His power and love manifest in the lives of others. As we have seen, intercession is deeply rooted in the scriptures, modeled by figures like Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Paul, and taught as an essential part of the Christian life.

When we commit to regularly interceding for others, bearing their burdens and believing for God’s intervention on their behalf, we experience the many benefits of this spiritual discipline. We find our faith and trust in God deepening, as we learn to rely on His power and goodness even in the face of impossible situations. We grow in love and compassion for others, as we step outside of our own concerns and empathize with their needs and struggles. And we discover a greater sense of purpose and partnership with God, as we align our prayers with His heart and will for the world.

Incorporating intercession into our daily prayer lives is essential for experiencing these benefits and seeing God’s kingdom advance in the lives of those around us. Whether through keeping a prayer journal, praying the news, joining a prayer group, or practicing listening prayer, there are many practical ways to make intercession a regular and meaningful part of our spiritual practice.

As we embark on this journey of intercession, may we do so with hearts that are open to the leading and empowering of the Holy Spirit. May we embrace our call to stand in the gap for others, and may we see the mighty hand of God at work in response to our prayers. And may we find ourselves transformed in the process, growing in love, compassion, and Christlikeness as we intercede for those around us.

Let us pray with the apostle Paul, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:3-6).

May we never underestimate the power and importance of our prayers, and may we never grow weary in our intercession for others. For as we faithfully stand in the gap, believing for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, we will see lives transformed, communities restored, and the kingdom of God advanced in our world.

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