At college, I’m away from home and my family. I miss them a lot, but never more than when something big and important happens to them: good or bad. I want to be there with them to show them how much I love and care about them, but it hurts when I’m stuck at college. One time, I got news that my younger brother got in trouble at school. Another time, I get word that my mom is having a tough time dealing with the fact that my grandfather is in a nursing home now. It’s times like these that I wish I could do something – anything – to help them through those situations. Turns out; we can!
Intercessory Prayer: the Key to Love
The basic principle of intercessory prayer is in its name; it’s prayer that you say to intercede on behalf of one another. It’s a prayer that is for someone else, for their well-being, for their good, for their life. Intercessory prayer is more than just thinking about someone, though. If you just think about somebody, and wish them well on your own, it won’t affect them at all. This is where the prayer part comes in.
This past winter break, I was blessed with going to SLS2016 in Dallas. We were taught to do intercessory prayer as an entire room of probably a couple hundred people. We prayed for the sister of the priest who was leading us. We called upon the Holy Spirit as he described her situation to put in our hearts the things that we needed to pray for her. We then shared what came to us. There were so many needs and things to pray for her. After he had a list, the priest led the intercession with all of our hearts behind his words, pleading to the Lord to answer our prayers for our sister in Christ. It was one of the most beautiful and inspiring prayers that I have ever experienced. We could feel the love and care that we had for her.
To pray in this way is to imitate Jesus and to pray as he prayed; to point our hearts and minds outwards and to grow our zeal for others. Jesus had confidence in the Father as he prayed, so we should too. It is an act of love that not only heals the people we’re praying for, but heals us at the same time by making our hearts more open to others, including the Holy Spirit.
Ben Berning is the lead FOCUS missionary here at UMD. He discipled me as a student missionary and is also my mentor, my friend, and my brother in Christ. This is what he has to say on intercessory prayer:
“Intercessory prayer is where you get to reach into heaven. You get to ask all the saints and the vanguards of angels for their help in others’ lives. The best person in heaven that you can ask to intercede for others is Mary. She’ll say your prayer prettier than you can ever say it, and she’ll bring it straight to Jesus. So don’t worry about how pretty you sound, let our Mother take care of that. She knows exactly how to word your thoughts and feelings.”
This is extremely important because I know that I worry about how I sound when I pray and if I’m using the right words. But when we pray to Mary, we can have confidence in our prayers.
Steps to Intercessory Prayer
Who’s been on your mind recently? Here are some good guidelines to pray for them:
- Praise and Thanksgiving – Giving glory and praise to God is a sign of respect and awe that reminds us how powerful our God is and how confident we can be in our prayer.
- Ask for Help – Ask Jesus and the Holy Spirit to show you how to pray for this person.
- Call to Mind – Call that person to mind and empathize with them. Note anything that stands out to you.
- Ask Big – Ask God to make big things happen in their life. For family members who are ill with cancer; ask God to heal them. For people struggling with addictions; ask God to break their chains for good. For people you know struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts; ask God to immediately fill them with the joy that only He can provide. For someone who is as far away from God as they can be; ask God to call bring them to your love. He has the desire to change things, and He listens to our prayers.
- Pray to Mary – Just a Hail Mary will do. She’ll bring your prayers before Jesus perfectly.
While interceding for somebody else, there are a few things to keep in mind. Come into prayer with the right disposition of heart. Enter into prayer with love; desiring the good of the other. Try to be open to the will of God the entire time. Recognize the individual and their needs in the eyes of God. Be specific. Their problems and situations shouldn’t overwhelm you as you’re praying. Fixing problems is not our responsibility.
There are people in your life that need your prayers. Think about those in your life and their situations; try and put yourself in their shoes. Pray out of empathy for desires that arise in your heart while thinking about them. Be moved by their lives. God will change the lives of others by our prayers and by our faith.
May the peace of Jesus rest upon you,
P.S. – If you really like interceding for others, try and start a prayer box where people can leave anonymous prayer intentions for you to pray for. It actually changes lives.