“How to Ask in Prayer: Intercession”

Quiet Time Coaching Episode 250

  • I am in my third year of participating in the Renovare book club. The first book in this season’s set of four is “How to pray” by Pete Greig.

Quiet time coaching episodes will focus on his book for the next few weeks. You don’t need to read it to benefit from these recordings, but you might like to get hold of a copy for yourself. I have finished the book and can thoroughly recommend it. A full review of the book will come at a later date in “What we are reading”.

Today we will reflect on the sixth chapter of the book, “Intercession: How to Ask God For Others”.

📌 Theme scripture: “‘Your kingdom come.’”

(Matthew 6:10 NIV11)

Last week we explored petition – asking our heavenly Father for the ‘bread’ we need. This week we move on to petitioning on behalf of others.

Before digging into the book’s advice about intercession, we should begin with Jesus. Something the book doesn’t emphasise. He is our intercessor:

“Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”….”Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”

(Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25 NIV11)

Our intercession is not of the same quality as his, but part of the reason we intercede for others is because of his example. What is his motivation? It must be love. In his book, Peter Greg quotes Richard Foster: “In the words of Richard Foster, ‘If we truly love people, we will desire for them far more than it is within our power to give them, and this will lead us to prayer. Intercession is a way of loving others.’” Greig, Pete. How to Pray: A Simple Guide for Normal People (p. 87). John Murray Press. Kindle Edition.

Here is our motivation for intercession. It is love for those who need God’s help. And it is because of the love of God to us expressed in Christ. Since Jesus is interceding for me, it becomes my privilege to intercede on behalf of others.

With these thoughts in mind, let’s turn to some suggestions from the book to help us intercede on behalf of our fellow human beings.


1. Get Informed

If we’re going to pray for situations and people, we should know the facts. Pray for people by name. If you’re praying for a situation elsewhere in the globe, check out news reports about that government, that leader, that environmental issue, that financial crisis, that political controversy. It has happened to me more than once that I have prayed for a particular answer to a situation abroad, only to talk about it with citizens from that country who were praying for a very different outcome.

The question to ask ourselves is, how can I be better informed? Would a conversation with the person concerned help? Could I subscribe to a magazine or newsletter detailing the issue?


2. Get Inspired

God’s word is our best source of inspiration for intercession. It is a bulwark against the tendency to pray for what we feel is right, or our preferred outcome, and miss God’s will. Granted, God’s word does not give us his will in every circumstance, but it does give us a great deal of guidance. As Jonathan Edwards said:”That which God abundantly makes the subject of his promises, God’s people should abundantly make the subject of their prayers.” (Jonathan Edwards)

A good question to ask when we are considering interceding in a situation is, what promises of God apply to this context? Pete puts it this way: “BY IDENTIFYING RELEVANT PROMISES IN GOD’S WORD AND FOCUSING THEM ON A PARTICULAR PERSON, PLACE OR SITUATION, YOU CAN BE SURE THAT YOU ARE INTERCEDING FOR THEM IN LINE WITH GOD’S PURPOSES, AND THEREFORE ‘IN THE NAME OF JESUS’” Greig, Pete. How to Pray: A Simple Guide for Normal People (p. 95). John Murray Press. Kindle Edition.


3. Get Indignant

We are designed to pray not only with our mind, but with our heart. Pete makes the point that there is an appropriate quality of demand in intercessory prayer. “One of the most surprising secrets of the Lord’s Prayer is that its original Greek renders every verb – ‘hallow’, ‘come’, ‘be done’, ‘give’, ‘forgive’ and so on – in the imperative mood, which can be a forceful, assertive, commanding tone of entreaty.” Greig, Pete. How to Pray: A Simple Guide for Normal People (p. 96). John Murray Press. Kindle Edition.

Whilst our times are quiet with God are meant to be comforting and conversational, there is a place for pleading, urging and, perhaps, even demanding answers. Of course, this must be done with humility, but if it is a matter that really matters, it needs to be expressed as such.


4. Get in Sync

Intercessory prayer is meant to be both solo, and choir. Nehemiah prayed a desperate personal prayer of intercession (Nehemiah 1:4-11). And later, he and all those with him prayed for protection (Nehemiah 4.7-9).

The early church prayed corporately:“When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God.” (Acts 4:24 NIV11)

What was the result of this corporate intercession? “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” (Acts 4:31 NIV11)


Conclusion

  • In my experience, some of us feel that we are naturally intercessors, and some of us not. We all have different strengths and come to our relationship with God from a different angle. However, part of the purpose of reading a book like this is to expose myself to aspects of prayer which are part of the way Jesus prayed, but not so natural and comfortable to myself.
  • The most significant inspiration for me in growing in the area of intercession is knowing that Jesus is interceding for me.
  • Questions for discussion:
    • What stands out to you about intercession?
    • How might your prayer life grow if you could learn how to intercede with faith?
  • Suggestion: Make intercession a part of your daily prayers
  • Resources mentioned in the book:
    • PRAYER TOOLS: 1. How to Host a Non-Boring Prayer Meeting. 2. How to Intercede for a Large-Scale Crisis. 3. Circle Prayer (prayercourse.org).
    • FUTHER READING: The Soul of Prayer, by P.T. Forsyth.
  • Next week we will go on to look at unanswered prayer and disappointment in prayer.

  • Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.
  • Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.
  • If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.
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  • “Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)
  • God bless, Malcolm
  • PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John