5 Steps to Powerful Intercessory Prayer
The English word “intercede” comes from the Latin inter meaning “between” and cedere meaning “to go.” So, intercession, then, is to go between. Another way to say it might be to bridge a gap or space.
Intercessory prayer involves standing in spaces or gaps between the kingdom of God, (the will of God) and the current reality of a person, group, nation, or situation on the earth. It is as if we are pulling or carrying God’s will across a bridge from heaven to earth.
It requires us to:
- Identify a need or struggle for intercession.
- Enter the “world” (pain, heartache, and reality) of that person or situation.
- Listen until Holy Spirit reveals God’s will, (what has been decided in heaven).
- Ask for His will to be carried out on the earth as in heaven.
- Remember that God only deserves the glory for victory.
Jesus said: “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’“
– Matthew 6:9-10.
1 Kings 18:41 – 1 Kings 19:8 is a Biblical example of intercessory prayer.
“And Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go eat and drink for there is the sound of heavy rain.’ So Ahab went to eat and drink. But Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed low to the ground and prayed with his face between his knees.”
– 1 Kings 18:42
Elijah heard the sound of rain.
That was a spiritual hearing of what was happening in the heavenlies. But it was blue sky on earth. Elijah went to a time of intercessory prayer. The Bible describes Elijah as being in the birthing position, “face between his knees.” We do not have to put our face between our knees but the idea of birthing something on earth is interceding. It is a deep level of prayer.
The following are 5 Steps to powerful intercessory prayer:
1. Discern what need(s) you are to meet with intercessory prayer
| “As a prayer leader and someone with a heart for intercession, I am aware of many prayer needs in my family, friends, community and beyond! |
I cannot possibly intercede for them all. So, what can I do?
I ask the Holy Spirit to give me a burden or agony of heart for the person or situations for which He is asking me to intercede in this moment.
He is faithful to reveal to me the spiritual battles He has called me to fight.”
We can pray a blessing or short prayer at any time and for any need or situation, but to intercede usually requires us to listen to Holy Spirit and enter the struggle.
It involves time and keen attention. Sometimes God may call us to take extra time to intercede for only one situation rather than pray briefly for many.
2. Enter the “world” (pain, heartache, and reality), of the person or situation, (with help from God’s Spirit).
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” – Hebrews 2:9
Often when we hear about a need, we want to pray.
Yet, if we do not understand the “world” of the one for whom we are interceding, our intercession will be weak and often misdirected.
Jesus interceded even to the point of death because he became human and understood the pain of those for whom he was interceding.
3. Listen until Holy Spirit reveals God’s will, (what has been decided in heaven)
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.
– Romans 8:26-27
It is easy to think that we know what is needed in a situation and how to intercede. We may focus on our human understanding of the situation.
God’s strategies are often different than human logic. His will or strategy may be different than our initial thought.
|At a Global Disciples Annual Equipping Event in Africa a young program director came to our onsite prayer team asking for prayer for protection from Satan’s attacks. |
He had twice had an “evil” dream in which he had gone to prison and experienced much suffering. He walked daily in fear of this. Our initial reaction was to pray as he had asked, but God’s Spirit led one of our team members to ask an important question.
After almost an hour together, Holy Spirit revealed that the dream was from God not Satan and was a warning. The young man had not realized it. Now we asked God not for protection from Satan, but rather for courage to make things right in his life. He left our prayer time in freedom and without fear.
Praise God that we took time to enter this young man’s world, to listen for God’s wisdom, and intercede in accordance with His will.
4. Intercede for God’s will to come to earth as it is in heaven. Pull it across the bridge!
The story surrounding Daniel’s intercession as recorded in Daniel chapter 9 and 10 reminds us of the struggle that is going on in the spiritual realm.
As soon as Daniel began to pray an angel was sent on his behalf. But that angel was held up for 21 days until breaking through. We trust God’s breakthrough even when we do not see it immediately.
Sometimes the struggle might take an hour a day, a week, or even years. It may appear that no change is happening, but we can be assured that God is at work.
If we know we are interceding in agreement with God’s call and strategy, we hold onto the hope that God will prevail in the end even if the waiting outlives us.
5. Remember that the victory belongs to the Lord.
“The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory belongs to the Lord.”– Proverbs 21:31
When we see the breakthrough to victory, it is tempting to believe we were the ones who made it happen. We are only partnering with God, and He is the one who deserves the glory.
Here is a model to follow as you enter into a time of intercession individually or as a group.
- Take time to thank God for who He is and all that He has done. God is our Father, and He is blessed when we express appreciation and thanksgiving. In addition, like the one leper who returned to give thanks, we are not only healed, but also made whole through giving thanks.
- Note all your prayer needs. Ask Holy Spirit to reveal which prayer needs He is asking you or your team to intercede for during the time you have. Listen together! Note only 2 or 3 needs Holy Spirit is impressing on the hearts of your team. It is also fine if the leader wants to discern prior to the time of intercession and lead those present to intercede in those matters.
- As a leader, you can choose 1 of the needs suggested. Ask God’s Spirit to increase your burden of the person or situation. Have the team listen together for God’s will for intercession in the need and for Holy Spirit to increase your passion for the person or situation. Ask, “Holy Spirit, what are we to pray?” lnvite sharing.
- Example: Someone shares that their church needs money to finish a building project. Our first reaction might be to pray for the money needed. As we listen, God might reveal a deeper truth. Perhaps there is something that needs to be dealt with before it is good to continue building. So, the prayer battle might move to, “God open eyes of the leaders to understand why You are delaying provision.”
- Agree together on what to intercede and then GO TO BATTLE! You may choose to have one person pray at a time or have everyone pray at the same time. Try both ways.
- Depending upon time, you can choose to repeat this process for another need in your group or move on to pray for people groups or nations that are least reached. It is okay if you do not intercede for all of needs shared.
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