There is a misconception that only certain people are called or gifted to be intercessory prayer warriors. There are people in our churches and our lives who seem to have that special intimate connection with God. They are relentless when it comes to praying for others. The truth is we are all called to pray for others.
In Ezekiel 22:30, God is searching for those who would stand in the gap, to intercede for others. The invitation is for all Christians to serve through intercessory prayer. Praying for others is not a choice; it is our privilege.
Whether we believe it or not, we are all equipped to be prayer warriors on behalf of others. We are heirs with Christ. We are adopted sons and daughters and therefore possess the same power and access to God that our Savior enjoys. We can whisper, or cry out, and offer our requests to our Heavenly Father, and He hears us. Sharing in the inheritance of Jesus, we are called high priests with a direct connection to God and an opportunity to offer up prayers on behalf of family, friends, neighbors, government officials, and our nation. The words do not have to be perfect, only spoken through love and trust in a God who hears and answers.
Are you wondering if praying for others makes a difference? Here are 8 amazing things that happen when you pray for others:
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1. When We Pray, We Participate in God’s Work
There are many people in our lives who need prayer. At times their needs are clear. Other times we may not know what to pray. Either way, when we pray for others, we join God in His work in their lives. If you are not sure what to pray, follow 1 Timothy 2:1-4:
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. Being obedient in prayer for others clears the way for God’s work and will to be done.”
2. Praying for Others Emulates Jesus
In the book of Luke, we find Jesus praying often. He goes to His Father in prayer as His ministry begins. Jesus prays during temptation, and He prayed for strength and relief as He neared the cross. He withdrew from people to pray, and He prayed early in the day. He also taught us how to pray. (Luke 11:2-4)
As we can see in Scripture, Jesus prayed about everything. By bringing petitions of prayer on behalf of others, we imitate our Savior.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
3. When We Pray for Others, We Share in Their Burdens
In Philippians, Paul reminds us to put others ahead of our needs and to consider the needs of others more important than our own. Our nature is to do the opposite. Our first thought is to pray for our burdens to be lifted or erased altogether. It is humility that allows us to pray for others earnestly. And by offering prayers for the relief of others and sharing their burdens, our burdens seem lighter.
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)
4. By Praying for Others, We Join the Ministry of Reconciliation
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 5 that God made our relationship with Himself through Christ, and then gives us the ministry of reconciliation, or working to help others know Jesus, salvation, and God’s love. (1 Corinthians 5:18) Our first tool is prayer. Praying for others puts us in the middle of God’s work to bring everyone to Himself. By praying for others, we are ministers in the work of salvation, opening the gospel to those in our prayers. God wants everyone to be saved, and we are invited to be part of the work.
“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 2:3-4)
5. When We Pray for Others, We Learn to Trust God
If we depend on our strength and abilities, we cannot accomplish God’s will. Only through surrendering to God is He able to work through us to accomplish His desires in our prayers for others. When we offer intercessory prayers, pleading with God on behalf of loved ones and friends, we are trusting in His ability to answer, and He does. We are giving up our capabilities to answer and depending on God to keep His promise to answer our prayers. When we pray for others, God will answer.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)
6. When We Pray for Others, We Are Also Changed
Pastor Oswald Chambers wrote, “Prayer is not a matter of changing things externally, but one of working miracles in a person’s inner nature.” While we pray for others, we plead with God to intercede in their lives, perhaps to bring healing or strength in difficult times. But we are also opening our hearts for change. When we pray for others, we connect to the One who has the power to transform the hearts of others and bring change to their circumstances. At the same time, it amends our hearts.
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:18-23)
7. Praying for Others Glorifies God
When we practice intercessory prayer, we glorify the only One who can answer prayers. Our prayers display trust in God, our belief in Christ, and when prayers are answered, we praise Him for his faithfulness. Our prayers glorify God. Praying is not just a conversation. Prayer is praise for the work God will do through our prayers. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again.
“And whatever you ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:13)
8. God Answers When We Pray for Others
As Christians, our prayers do not bounce off the ceiling or dissipate like fog. God hears when we pray for others, and He answers. The answer may not come quickly, nor may the reply be what we expected. Or, because God is gracious, we receive much more than we asked. Either way, God answers our prayers when we pray for others. Our prayers are powerful, and our loving God wants us to know through His answer to our plea that He has the power and authority to answer whatever we ask.
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15)
Intercessory prayer is a never-ending opportunity to join God in His work while, at the same time, a chance to be transformed both in heart and circumstance. Ephesians 6:18 says, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests”. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Not just a few are called to pray for others; we are all called to pray unceasingly for all of God’s people. As twentieth-century author and pastor, E.M. Bounds said about prayer, “Prayer should not be regarded as a duty which must be performed, but rather as a privilege to be enjoyed, a rare delight that is always revealing some new beauty.”
Tamela Turbeville lives for every woman with a difficult past to know God loves them, they are worthy and wanted. She is wife to Richard, and mother to three grown sons and two beautiful daughters-in-law. When doing what she loves most– studying God’s Word, reading and writing–she is surrounded by her six rescue dogs in her small office in south Arkansas. She began Living One Word to write and share how God redeems the unlovable and you can read more about Tamela, her journey, and her family at www.livingoneword.com, on Facebook, and Instagram.
Our Servant Jesus
“The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
Not only was he the servant of his people while he lived on earth, but he will also be our servant when he comes again. “Truly, I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them” (Luke 12:37).
Not only that, he is our servant now. “‘I will never fail you nor forsake you.’ Hence we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid; what can man do to me?”
Does this belittle the risen Christ — to say that he was and is and will ever be the servant of his people? It would, if “servant” meant “one who takes orders,” or if we thought we were his masters. Yes, that would dishonor him. But it does not dishonor him to say that we are weak and needy.
It does not dishonor him to say that he is the only one who can service us with what we need most.
It does not dishonor him to say that he is an inexhaustible spring of love, and that the more he helps us and the more we depend on his service the more amazing his resources appear. Therefore, we can confidently say, “Jesus Christ is alive to serve!”
He is alive to save. He is alive to give. And he is thrilled to be this way.
He is not burdened down with your cares. He thrives on burden-bearing. He loves to “work for those who wait for him” (Isaiah 64:4). He “takes pleasure in those who hope in his steadfast love” (Psalm 147:11). His “eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show his might on behalf of those whose heart is whole toward him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).
Jesus Christ is exuberant with omnipotent service for the sake of all who trust him.
1 Thessalonians 4:4 – “Each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable.”
Sarah had been working on major boundary issues in her therapy for a while now. She was seeing progress in resolving responsibility conflicts with her parents, her husband, and her kids. Yet today she introduced a new issue.
“I haven’t told you about this relationship before, though I guess I should have. I have tremendous boundary problems with this woman. She eats too much, and has an attacking tongue. She’s undependable — lets me down all the time. And she’s spent money of mine and hasn’t paid me back in years.”
“Why haven’t you mentioned her before?” I asked. “Because she’s me,” Sarah replied.
Sarah was echoing the conflict most of us have. We learn that boundaries are biblical. We begin setting limits on others. We begin moving from taking too much responsibility to taking just enough. But how do we begin to set limits on ourselves?
Instead of looking at the control and manipulation of others, we also need to be looking at our responsibility to control our internal boundary conflicts. This can get a little touchy. But, instead of a defensive posture, we are much better off to look humbly at ourselves. To ask for feedback from others. To listen to people we trust. And to confess, “I was wrong.”
Since the Fall, our instincts have been to withdraw from relationship when we’re in trouble, when we most need other people. (Remember how Adam and Eve hid from God after they ate the forbidden fruit?) Due to our lack of security, our loss of grace, our shame, and our pride, we turn inward, rather than outward, when we’re in trouble. And that’s a problem. As the Preacher in Ecclesiastes 4:10 puts it: “Woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help”.
Such withdrawal happens in our program time after time. For the first time, hurting people come forth with their need for connection. Like a rose lifting its petals after a hard rain, they begin to relate and connect in the light of the grace of God and his people. Then an unexpected setback will occur. Instead of bringing the painful and frightening feelings and problems to their newfound relationships, these people will often retreat to work out the problem alone.
And yet the Bible doesn’t recognize any other answer to our problems. Grace must come from the outside of ourselves to be useful and healing. Just as the branch withers without the vine (John 15:1 – 6), we can sustain neither life nor emotional repair without bonding to God and others. God and his people are the fuel, the energy source from which any problem is addressed.
Whether our boundary issue is food, substances, sex, time, projects, the tongue, or money, we can’t solve it in a vacuum. If we could, we would. But the more we isolate ourselves, the harder our struggle becomes. Just like an untreated cancer can become life-threatening in a short time, self-boundary problems will worsen with increased aloneness. As Ephesians 4:16 says, we need to be “joined and held together by every supporting ligament” of the body of Christ to heal and to grow up.
This devotional is drawn from Boundaries, by John Townsend and Henry Cloud.
The end of a matter is better than its beginning.
A couple of decades ago, twelve-year-old Jeff and his ten-year-old brother, Scott, argued daily. Shouts of “Give it back! It’s my turn!” frequently filled the house. Their mother and father, when he was home, intervened often and did their best to maintain peace between their young warriors. Though it often felt like a losing battle, they generally kept a positive attitude about their roles as mediators. This faithful mom and dad understood that the Scripture “Blessed are they who maintain justice” (Psalm 106:3) certainly included parents. God’s Word helped them keep the worst of the child-rearing wars in perspective.
Sibling rivalry has been known to drive even the most patient and reasonable of parents crazy. It was responsible for the first murder on record, when Cain killed his brother Abel. Though a degree of antagonism between your children may be inevitable, you can minimize these conflicts by avoiding comparisons between your kids, by establishing and enforcing clear boundaries between them, and especially by instilling an equitable system of justice at home. Someone has said, “Strong families make good neighbors.” It is true. Solomon told us why: “When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous” (Proverbs 21:15). While you can’t eliminate sibling rivalry altogether, you can insist on civility at home. Over time, that can lead to lasting friendships.
Before you say good night…
- Is sibling rivalry a problem in your home? What do you think is its cause?
- Do you “maintain justice” as taught in Scripture?
Heavenly Father, it can be so painful to watch our children fight. We ask for Your guidance for our response to these moments. Help us to be fair at all times, and give us wisdom to maintain justice in our family. Amen.
This devotional is taken from Night Light for Parents. Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Hope, Riches, and Greatness
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might” (Ephesians 1:18–19, NASB95)
Paul had a three-fold prayer for the recipients of the Ephesian letter. First, he wanted them to know the hope of His calling. This is a hopeful call because it is extended to all men and women everywhere. It is the hope of the Gospel, which saves to the uttermost those who would believe. Only those who respond to the call by believing the Gospel know this hope.
Secondly, Paul prays that the recipients would know “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” The called includes both Jew and gentile. The chosen, however, is the nation of Israel. The Saints are the redeemed from within the chosen. This is the inheritance which will be our Lord’s when He returns. At His first coming, “His own received him not,” but at His Second Coming, when Salvation comes out of Zion, “all Israel will be saved” and the saints will be the inheritance of our Lord.
Finally, “the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe” is for anyone who has heard the call, whether Jew or gentile, and responded with belief. For them, there is a “surpassing greatness of His power,” a resurrection power, which is available to us. Paul’s prayer is that we would know this power so that we might experience the full reality of our salvation.
In His Grace;
Dr. Randy White