October 17, 2017

Intercession: Using Your Prayer List

Do you have a prayer list? Do you use it?

I don’t know about you, but I find the list-keeping part easy — and the using of it, not so easy.

It’s hard to carve out time to sit there and pray for others. It’s hard not to get distracted by whatever else is going on. It’s hard to stay consistent in praying at the same time every day.

It can be difficult to build the habit of daily Bible reading — but somehow daily prayer time is even trickier. Maybe because it’s not a tangible thing. Because we’re having a conversation with Someone who’s invisible. Because there’s no audible voice talking back to us.

But praying for each other is so incredibly important!

Anyone can encourage someone with words or love them with actions. Anyone can make someone else smile, or bring them a meal, or send them a card. But only Christians can pray for others.

Intercession is a privilege that only God’s true children can enjoy.
{click here to tweet that!}

And while God does not “need” our prayers to do His work — there are things that don’t happen unless or until we pray for them. Some things don’t happen apart from our intercession.

For instance, think back to your moment of salvation. Wasn’t there someone who prayed for that moment to happen? I was reading a book the other day that said we would be hard-pressed to find any individual who was saved without having someone who prayed for them to be saved. True enough?

Now think of your loved ones who have not been saved. Your prayers alone will not save a person, but your prayers will greatly multiply God’s working in their hearts.

I could point you to plenty of Scriptures that tell us to pray for others. But I actually want to focus on one little passage in Luke 22, where we read of Christ interceding for his beloved apostles. They were observing Passover, and partaking of the final “Lord’s Supper” before Christ’s death at Calvary. As was customary, Jesus was prepping His apostles for what was about to happen.

And then He says this to Peter (31-32):

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Satan wanted to sift Peter “like wheat.” In those times, the freshly harvested grains of wheat were sifted or shaken in a sieve. The chaff (unwanted weeds) blew off, and the wholesome grains remained. Just like with Job, the devil wanted to test Peter and find out whether any true faith would remain.

But we read that Christ responded by praying for Peter. {Does that amaze you like it does me?!}

And His prayer was that Peter’s faith would not fail, that it would remain throughout the sifting and testing. We know Peter’s courage would fail and he would deny Christ three times — but he would also repent of that sin, and “turn again” to obey Christ.

If Christ had not prayed for Peter, would his faith have failed? Would the apostle have apostatized from the faith? It’s speculation, of course. But we know that Peter ultimately remained strong in his faith. And we can logically infer that Peter remained strong because Christ prayed for him.

You may be thinking — well that was Christ; He was perfect and He prayed perfect prayers. I’m sinful and don’t know how to pray perfectly for others.

But we have the Holy Spirit!  And as we wait on His leading, He will guide us in our intercession. And as we follow His leading, we too can pray effectively for others. James tells us that “the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

But first, of course, we must actually pray! We must use our prayer lists before they can be effective.

Will you join me in praying through your prayer list today?
{tweet that to invite others!}

Focus on Intercession

 

If you don’t already have a prayer list, here’s some suggestions of who to include:

  • Someone who needs to know Jesus personally. Pray for the lost in general, but choose a few people to intercede for specifically. Pray that God would work in their hearts. Pray that they would be tender to His working, that they would not ignore His pricking conviction, and that they would realize their desperate need for Him. Pray that Christians would come alongside to encourage them towards salvation. Pray that they would not put off that most important of decisions.
  • Someone who is faithfully witnessing to an unsaved person. Pray for encouragement in their witnessing, and for faithfulness to share Christ with the lost person. Pray that they would be consistent in their testimony. Pray for fruit from their labor — that the lost would come to know Christ!
  • Someone who is a new Christian. Pray for growth. Pray that they would fill up on the milk of God’s Word. Pray for someone to disciple them. Pray for strength to resist temptations and passion to know God better.
  • Someone who is a young child — or who has young children. Pray that the parents would faithfully teach God’s Word, both by verbal instruction as well as by their daily examples. Pray that the children would desire to know Christ. Pray for salvation at an early age, and for continued growth throughout the rest of their lives.
  • Someone who is out of work or in a difficult job situation. Pray for courage and strength. Pray for them to be open to God’s leading, and seeking His direction. Pray for wisdom. Pray for financial provisions.
  • Someone who deals with long-term health issues (injury or illness). Pray for grace to meet each day with joy. Pray for them to have peace and faith in God’s perfect will. Pray for healing and physical strength. Pray for discernment and wisdom as they seek improvement and healing.
  • Someone who has familial or relational difficulties. Pray for courage and strength to be who God wants them to be. Pray for peace to come to the relationships. Pray for God to work in each person’s heart, to convict and direct each of them closer to Himself.
  • Someone who is entering a new stage of life (college, marriage, children, singleness, retirement). Pray for them to seek God’s leading every single day. Pray for peace and strength to deal with unfamiliar challenges. Pray for them to be faithful in communing with God through prayer and Bible reading.
  • Someone who is in a Christian leadership position (church, Bible study, school). Pray that they would maintain clear testimonies for Jesus Christ. Pray that they would leave good examples for others to follow. Pray for grace and strength to handle unique challenges of leadership. Pray for wisdom.
  • Someone else who prays. Pray for another Christian to be faithful in intercession! Pray that they would sense the needs of people around them, and that they would diligently pray for those needs. Pray that their hearts would remain pure so that their prayers would be effective. Pray for encouragement, that they would see the answers from some of those prayers.

 

As always, feel free to share YOUR prayer requests in the comments!
And I’d love it if you prayed for each other – just leave a quick note saying that you did. It would be such an encouragement!

 

Comments

  1. I was actually in the process of writing a blog post on this myself this morning. So many around me need prayer and I hate to promise to pray and then don’t. My husband and I have come into a routine about how to go about this. It’s become a habit to pray for people and I love it. It’s who we are becoming. I love how you worded that every one can say a sweet word or cook a meal, but only Christians can pray!

    • I’ll have to check out your post! I hate promising and not following through, but it’s so easy to do! I try at least to stop and pray right then and there. I’d also love to hear what you & your husband do to make sure you pray for others.

  2. the white wave says:

    Just yesterday, I was really thinking about the great privilege of prayer and how often we take it for granted and yet . . . you inspired me to write my own post. Thanks!

  3. You always have such thought -and prayer – provoking posts. My current issue is – my prayer list is so long. I’ve been thinking about reading through the names, then saying a prayer over the whole notebook at once. No one ever taught me otherwise, so I have always done each prayer request individually. It takes so long and I don’t pray for those people daily bec it’s too long. Any input?

    • Lori, I totally know what you mean! You might try breaking it down into categories of either people groups or types of requests, and pray for specific categories each day. For instance: salvation needs on Sunday, missionaries on Monday, family needs on Tuesday, work needs on Wednesday (etc). Or pick different triggers throughout your day, if that works better.

      I’ve done the whole “recite the list and pray a general prayer” thing, but I feel better spending longer on each request, even if that means I only pray for that thing once each week. Besides, God can bring it to mind at other times, if we’re supposed to pray more frequently about whatever it is. Right?

      I’m so glad you asked about this… maybe it would be a good post idea!

  4. I’m convicted. I don’t spend nearly the time I should in prayer, especially intercessory prayer. Thanks for the pain!