As believers, we are constantly telling each other we will be praying for them. It can feel like a “get out of jail free” card when someone gives devastating news and we just don’t know what to say, but the truth is, praying for others, or intercessory prayer, is the greatest way we can show them love. It is not a “this is the best thing I can do…given the circumstances” type of thing. It is a “this is the very best thing I can do…because of the God I serve” type of thing.
Intercessory prayer, this idea of coming to God on behalf of someone we love, has grabbed my attention this year. I’ve mentioned before, the visual I get of a prayer warrior or someone who prays for others, is always an older lady with a notebook of scribbles who will go silent in your presence muttering the sweetest prayers under her breath. She basically has a direct line to God and I never envisioned myself as a prayer warrior myself.
If you’ve felt intimidated by the idea of intercessory prayer or are tired of telling people you will pray for them without actually praying, this post is for you. I want to break this concept down into really actionable ways to become an intercessory prayer warrior for our loved ones.
Maybe this concept feels more like a lagniappe (that Cajun-speak for “something extra”) part of our faith. Maybe you feel like you want to get the basics down first and will circle back after “things calm down”, “the kids leave the house” or you retire.
This intercessory prayer thing is important. God has called us to love others and I can’t think of a better way to do that. 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 says “For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” This is where the real battle lies. Even in busy seasons, we can pray without bounds. In seasons when we may be facing hardships or even depression, taking our eyes off our own circumstances will bring us joy. And y’all, if you are praying for multiple people in your life, you now get a front row seat the miracles God will perform in those people’s lives and not just your own. This will change your faith as you see God working more and more.
We all want to help our friends, but it is essential to include God in that process. In Before Amen, Max Lucado shares the story of the disciples’ inability to drive out a demon spirit in a young boy (Matthew 17:14-20). He says “What was the oversight of the disciples? Simple. They never took the boy to Jesus. Not in person and apparently not in prayer. They attempted to heal the boy without calling on Christ. He had to command them: ‘Bring him here to Me.’”
Let’s bring our loved ones to the Lord in prayer.
Here are a few intercessory prayer techniques:
1. Praying on the hour every hour for a big day
I did this for two different friends when they were in a rough season. Not only are we praying 16 ish times (depending on how long you sleep!) for someone, but being able to tell your friend that you are doing that for them is the ultimate of encouragement and a great way to come alongside your friend. A lot of times we can feel helpless or like we need to give a good answer but sometimes, I’ll bet many times, praying in this way would have a much better effect. The way I make sure I do this is adding it to my calendar on my phone with a reminder every hour on the hour. Praying for a friend that many times actually helps you to pray more consistently for them after the day is over too!
2. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the right words
As we pray on someone’s behalf, we are at least a little removed from their circumstances even though we might share a lot of their pain. Because of this, we will have to fight less against our own desires, which will allow prayers that align with God’s will to flow more naturally. When we are going through our own personal trials, it can be hard to pray for much more than the outcome we want. However, As a friend, we can pray for things the person going through the struggle may be afraid to pray. For example, instead of only praying for ultimate healing, we may pray for peace going through it if the healing doesn’t come. This is scary for some people to pray, but necessary. I shared a bit about this in our Fresh Start journal but if we only pray for one outcome, we will miss the blessings of things like peace while enduring or courage to keep going if all we pray is to get out of the situation.
3. Tell them what you are praying for
This goes along with #1 but goes deeper. Don’t just tell them you are praying for them. Tell them a snippet of what God placed on your heart. They might need the added encouragement and it may be something they can pray for themselves as well but simply didn’t have the words. Also, it may open the door to seeing exactly what the Lord is doing. I once sent this text to a friend: “Been praying for you friend and here’s what I’m asking the Lord: That he would lift you up in His strong tower. I have been reading the verse about safety we find in the name of the Lord and dissecting the verse gives this visual of a tower that is inaccessible to the enemy….” She responded a few hours later to say she and her child had been in a car wreck (car likely totaled) but them both fine! “I had complete peace the whole time though and I know that was from your prayer!”
4. Use Scripture
I did this in the story I mentioned in #3 and to be honest, this was the first time that I can remember really applying a verse like this to a prayer for a friend. I was blown away by the magnitude of how God used that verse.
5. Pray when someone is put on your heart
This is obvious, but I can “think” about my friend who just had a baby or just started that new job and not actually pray for them. Don’t neglect these little promptings from the Holy Spirit. The more we say yes, the louder that voice gets. The more we say no, the more we can tune out those promptings.
6. Have a prayer trigger for people
Take #5 a step further and don’t wait for them to be put on your heart. Marilyn Chadwick writes about this idea in her book Sometimes He Whispers, Sometimes He Roars. Her small group picked their own trigger words that would remind others to pray for them. “Lisa’s trigger is ‘anything leopard.’ If I go shopping, I’m certain to run across leopard print on at least one item. Diana loves teapots, Sally picked redbirds, Tonya’s triggers are red cars, Jacqui’s are orchids; Marcela, our ‘audio learner’ selected singing birds.” If you have a Bible study or group of friends, you can do this together or simply pick things that will remind you of someone.
TAKE ACTION: Which tip jumps out at you? Where will you start?
If you are looking for tools to strengthen your prayer life, check out a few of my favorite products: Our Yearly Prayer Journal or 6-Month Undated Prayer Journal, Fresh Start journal (31-day study on prayer), and Prayer Memoirs journal (our answered prayers tracker and heirloom).