“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” – 1 Timothy 2:1.
In the midst of His greatest trial, Jesus prayed fervently. What would you have prayed about when facing torture and death? It’s fascinating to see what was on Jesus’ mind as He prayed, not only for Himself but for His disciples and for us: “Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth. “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.” (John 17:18-21).
Jesus did not just focus inward, but by His words and His prayers showed that He wanted love and joy and peace and patience and all the presence of God’s Spirit for His followers. He prayed for them—and us—out of love and deep concern. The scriptures direct us to intercede for others. Praying for others is our responsibility and our privilege. Oswald Chambers said that “the real business of your life as a saved soul is intercessory prayer.”
Have you ever felt an unexplained burden on your heart to pray for those who are far from the heart of God in your community or the world at large? There are many ways to love our neighbor, but intercessory prayer—praying on behalf of other people—is surely one of the most powerful. The Bible is full of examples of intercessory prayers. The prophets prayed for the people of Israel. Jesus interceded for those involved in His crucifixion, “…Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing…” (Luke 23:34). The book of Hebrews indicates that Jesus will always intercede for us: “Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save[a] those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.” (Hebrews 7:25).
Jesus often stopped what He was doing to help people whether it was convenient or not. He lived and ministered among the “people.” He did not shy away from interaction with people like tax collectors, prostitutes, and lepers. When Jesus taught the disciples how to pray, he wanted them to remember the needs of others, not just their own needs.
Prayer is vital, but don’t stop there. Ask God how you can take action to help a person in need. Maybe it is taking them grocery shopping, or cooking, or babysitting, or just picking up the phone and calling them.
- Have you seen God work through your intercessory prayers?
- Have you experienced a blessing in your life as a result of someone interceding in prayer for you?