How to Pray: What is Intercessory Prayer?

by Courtney Jacob

Intercessory prayer is praying to God on behalf of another. The word “intercessor” has roots in Greek, and the Greek meaning is “to meet with, come between." Intercessory prayer is prayer before God on behalf of others. While there is no one right way to do intercessory prayer, there are certain tools that can help us along the way. Here are a few simple ideas that have proven to be useful in my own prayer journey.

Pray Scripture

Find passages that apply to a particular request and pray them over the person for whom you intercede; insert their name as you read the passage. I’ve found that this stretches my prayer vocabulary and often helps me align my prayers more closely with God’s will.

Pray in the power of Jesus’ name

In her book Your Journey to a Prayerful Life, Barbara Schutt writes:

We stand in the place of the Son as we go to the throne of God. Praying in Jesus’ name also means that we go to God on the basis of Christ’s merit. We go in his authority and purity, having none of this in ourselves. We ask in accord with Christ’s will when we pray in Jesus’ name. When we pray in Jesus’ name, the demons tremble with fear. So whenever we pray, let’s be sure to name the name of Jesus. It doesn’t matter if it is at the beginning, middle, or end. Awesome power rests in the name of Jesus (p. 12).

When we pray in the name of Jesus we acknowledge that we have no power, goodness, or qualities that would be worthy for God to listen. We are utterly helpless and trust completely in Jesus Christ who is the only way.

Pray regularly, with dedication

Again, there’s no prescription here. I’m not going to say once a week, every day, or every hour. Experiment; find what works best for you in your schedule. But don’t be discouraged, and don’t give up. When we commit and dedicate ourselves to regular intercessory prayer we see lives, hearts, and circumstances change in accordance with God’s grace and mercy.

It is a love ministry

This list is by no means exhaustive, but I hope these tips are useful to you in your important work of prayer. If you’d like to reflect more on what intercession is and what it means to be an intercessor, I invite you to consider this devotion on intercessory prayer from Oswald Chambers.

Finally, I love this simple quote from Barbara Schutt’s book: “Intercession is a love ministry” (p. 75). I think that’s beautiful. Your intercession reflects your love for God and a heart after his own heart; a heart that loves his people. God bless you as you seek to grow in your prayer life, and may others continue to be blessed through your prayerful intercession.