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The Call to Prayer for Others
Hank was having real problems with his ankle, as boils were breaking out. His wife thought it was a spider bite, but there were similar boils beginning to form on the other ankle, and that seemed to make it unlikely it was a spider bite. They agreed to pray about it, and Hank made a doctor’s appointment for the next week. A couple of days before the doctor’s appointment both ankles were broken out badly, and the couple felt lead to not only pray, but also anoint Hank’s ankles. By bedtime they were clearly healing, and by morning his ankles showed little sign of the boils. The next day they were completely healed and Hank canceled the doctor appointment.
My favorite definition of intercessory prayer is loving someone enough to pray for them. It is not a spiritual gift, but a call upon all Christians to pray for others. We read in 1 Timothy 2:1, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people…” Paul’s words remind us of the two words a committed Christian cannot/should not say to God. “No, Lord.” God calls us to pray for one another. Are you tempted to become lazy, rebellious, or selfish lifting up such prayers? To understand the work of intercession we begin with Jesus. He is our teacher and model of Intercessory prayer. When we pray for others Jesus shows us how to intercede, mediate, and advocate. We need these three different kinds of intercessory prayers throughout our faith journey.
The Greek meaning of "intercessor" is, "to meet with, come between." Intercession means literally to stand between, to become involved in the conflict. The essence then of what Jesus does for us. He becomes involved in the conflict in decisive ways. He died for our sins, taking the consequences of sin, as he stood between a righteous God and sinful humanity.
Jesus Christ calls us to join Him in His work of intercessory prayer. A colleague of mine shared his experience of becoming deathly ill. As his strength vanished and he was hospitalized there was no diagnosis. He had a desperate faith crisis, but the prayers and encouragement of Christian friends got him through. He said, “I don’t know how people get through life without the help of the church.” So he was strengthened by the prayers of others. Then, at a prayer meeting where he was prayed for a retired doctor knew my friend’s doctor and called him up. Together, they were able to correctly diagnose this rare disease, and get him started on the road to recovery.
Jesus also calls us to be mediators for others through prayer. A mediator helps break down the walls between people and God. Through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection our relationship with God is restored. That opens the doors of forgiveness and reconciliation to heal our relationships with others. Jane had a terrible few days to finish the week. Her ex-husband was always calling and texting to harass her, and dragging her into court over trivial matters. Her kids were not cooperating, and it seemed her work was sucking her dry. Her friends surrounded her with prayer and scriptures. In her morning devotionals, she communicated to those who regularly prayed for her, “God showed me scriptures to prove without any doubt He was with me, and I had nothing to fear.” What a transformation as God gave her confidence that He was mediating for her in all of her relationships.
When we pray as advocates for people we lift them up in the work and ministry they are doing. We may or may not know them, but we can trust our prayers on their behalf lifts them up and strengthens them, often even surprising them. On February 27, 2010 President George W. Bush said at a Ft. Worth Christian school event, "The prayers of the people sustained me, comforted me and strengthened me in a way I could have never predicted before becoming president, and for that I am extremely grateful." This is an important time that we need to advocate for the world around us, our President, Governor, elected leaders, and country. How often do you pray for others? How important is intercessory prayer to your faith? How can you make it a higher priority? Intercession is this wonderful invitation that we are given to be like Jesus to be an Intercessor, a Mediator, and an Advocate. Such prayers invite God’s power into our lives and we get to see God use our prayers to shape the future and advance the kingdom of God on earth.