What Does It Mean to Be an Intercessor for Someone?

Has anyone asked you, “Will you be an intercessor for me?”

We all need intercessors praying for us. Daily. Weekly. (Sometimes hourly!) And whenever led by God. If you don’t have intercessors praying for you, ask God to give you the names of people you can ask to pray. My article, “Why Every Intercessor Needs a Cover” goes into more detail of why this is so important, and how to go about it.

What happens if you are on the receiving end of this request? If someone asks, “Will you be an intercessor for me?” what does that mean?

The simplest answer is to ask the person, “What kind of intercessor do you need?” Does this person want someone to pray for her daily? Once a day? Throughout the day? At certain times? Does this person plan to email or text you of specific needs? Or is it more like this: “Pray for me as God leads you”?

When I was leading intercessory prayer at a church, I needed a group of people who were praying for me daily. The daily cover was vital to keep me hidden from the enemy as I went about my work of coordinating the church’s prayer cover.

This daily intercession can be as simple as, “Lord, please help this person today. Keep her covered.” Or it can mean inviting the Lord to bring that person to your heart throughout the day. God will help you know what kind of intercession He is calling you to offer. I knew I had a group that prayed daily. And others prayed as led by God.

At that same church, we had teenagers who volunteered to pray for staff members and special situations. I remember one young teen, who I asked to pray for one of our ministers. She set her alarm early every morning, so she could wake up and pray for that minister. What a comfort it was to the minister being prayed for. And what an awesome time that teen had with God each morning.

I have covered individuals and families in prayer as a dedicated intercessor. Sometimes, the person has asked me and God has confirmed it. At other times, I have felt prompted by God to intercede,  without the person asking me. Each time, I have told the person, “I feel like God has called me to intercede for you.” Then I have asked the person if there is a specific need. If not, I have trusted that God would lead me in how to pray.

In some situations, I intentionally keep the person before the Lord throughout the day. In other situations, I pray as prompted by God or by the person.

I have also interceded for healing ministry sessions, where I pray at certain times when sessions are taking place. I literally set aside that time to pray – but that’s because this is what I’m called to do.

When someone asks you to be an intercessor for her, and you feel called to respond with a “Yes,” just ask the person: “What does this look like?” Also ask that question of God. The reason for asking the person is to be sure you’re on the same page. The reason for asking God … well, it’s because He knows what He is calling you to do as an intercessor. You want to be in line with His plan, and follow His leading.

Sometimes being an intercessor for someone means asking God to keep our hearts and spirits open to a person’s prayer needs.

This happened recently with a friend of mine. I was going through a circumstance where I desperately needed immediate prayer. I told God that I needed this particular friend to pray. Because I was in the middle of a difficult moment, I had no opportunity to contact her.

Imagine my amazement (and relief) when out of the blue, I received a text from that very friend, saying, “I am praying for you.”

I managed a quick text back to her, “How did you know?”

Later, she told me God had nudged her, while driving, to pull over, text me, and pray for me.

I have long believed that when we cry out to God, He can nudge even people we’ve never met, perhaps on the other side of the world, to pray for us in that moment.

As intercessors, we can make ourselves available for those kinds of prayers as well.

So, when someone asks, “Will you be an intercessor for me?” the first thing to do is pray and ask God if this is what He is calling you to do.

If God says no, that is okay. Just tell the person you don’t feel called in that way. Trust that God will bring the right people to that person’s heart to ask. It is much better for you to say no than to take on a burden God has not called you to. It won’t help you or the person you’re praying for.

If God says yes, then you can prayerfully consider what that might look like for you. What can you offer that person by way of prayer? Do you feel called to be a daily intercessor? If not, do you feel that you’d be able to receive and respond to prayer requests as they come up in that person’s life? Don’t offer what you can’t commit to. Once again, trust God to orchestrate all of this, and follow His leading.

Do you feel called to pray for just that person, or for the person’s family, or ministry? Or do you feel called instead to be available for God’s promptings, like my friend who prayed for me at the side of the road?

All of these are good, and needed. It just depends on how God is leading you. God will orchestrate the prayer cover needed by that person. Just do what you feel called to do, offer what you have, and leave the rest up to God.

Once you feel like you have your response to that question, just let the person know what you can (or can’t) commit to. Don’t overstep or over-commit. Stay focused on what God has called you to do.

Remember that to be an intercessor for someone means that you are following God’s lead, and praying in the spirit. You are not responsible for carrying that person (that is Jesus’ job!).

When you pray for someone, it might be tempting to take that person’s burdens on yourself. But those aren’t for you to carry. Ask God to lift those burdens Himself.

God might help you to be aware of specific burdens, but that is only so you will know how to pray. The burdens are His to carry. Read Matthew 11:28-30 whenever you need to be reminded of this.

Just keep inviting God, through prayer, into that person’s life and situations. Let Him do the rest.

How has God used you as an intercessor for someone? Daily? Weekly? As led? Have you ever felt prompted to pray for a person you don’t know? Or an unfamiliar situation the Lord has placed on your heart? God bless you for your prayers for others.

 

Season Your Church Ministries with Intercessory Prayer

When intercessory prayer is woven into the fabric of your church, your ministries can stand strong and do exactly what God calls them to do. Every ministry of your church, from worship to hospitality, from nursery to seniors, from Bible study to softball, has the opportunity to incorporate intercessory prayer. Not only does this help the ministries to grow in healthy ways, but it also allows more opportunities for church members to grow in their prayer lives.

What are some ways you can season your church ministries with intercessory prayer?

  1. Open and close your ministry’s meetings and gatherings with prayer.
  2. Invite the folks participating in your ministry to share prayer requests through the week. Pray together each week (or at each gathering) for those prayer requests. Remember to include Praises of how God answers those prayers.
  3. Designate a volunteer “prayer chaplain” for your ministry, who can follow up on those prayer needs, and who will help your ministry stay prayerful.
  4. Whatever Bible verses you use in your ministry, invite your participants to begin praying those Bible verses together. Do a quick mini-teaching of how to turn a Bible verse into a prayer.
  5. Encourage different individuals in your ministry to lead the group in prayer, so everyone can have experience in praying out loud. Not everyone feels comfortable praying out loud, so don’t pressure them and don’t put them on the spot. But make it very easy for them to try. (I offer an online class, “Learn to Pray Out Loud,” that helps people get past this fear of praying out loud.) A small-sized ministry group is often the perfect place for people to practice praying out loud.
  6. Get to know the person who coordinates intercessory prayer at your church. Let that person know the best ways to pray for your ministry. You might write out a few “prayer points” that your church’s prayer leader and prayer team can pray for your ministry on a regular basis. You can also post these prayer points in your ministry’s location, in your written materials and website, or on a church bulletin board. Even better, ask your church’s prayer leader to set up a bulletin board where all church ministries’ “prayer points” can be listed. (Remember: These “prayer points” are about your ministry in general. These are not the confidential prayer needs shared by your participants, which should only circulate to the group and possibly confidentially to the pastor and prayer leader of your church.)
  7. Ask participants in your ministry to be praying for the ministry at home during their family prayer time. This means not only praying for the people in the ministry, but it also means praying for the ministry itself. Ask them to share with you what God shows them as they pray.
  8. Choose a Bible verse that reflects your ministry in each season of the year. Encourage your ministry participants to pray that Bible verse together through that season. Post the Bible verse publicly in your church so everyone can join you in praying that verse.
  9. Assign “prayer partners” among your ministry participants. This connects two or three individuals or families so they can pray for each other.
  10. Choose another ministry of your church to pray for. It should be a ministry with a completely different focus than your own. Ask that ministry’s leader how you can pray for them. Lead the participants of your ministry in praying together for that other ministry. Watch what God will do. Even better, encourage your church’s prayer leader to coordinate all ministries of the church in praying for each other.

Don’t be overwhelmed by this list. It’s called “seasoning” for a reason. Try one of these first and then add others as you are ready. Mix and match through different seasons of the year. Follow God’s leading. But find ways to season your church ministry with intercessory prayer.

What are some ways you have included intercessory prayer in your church ministry?

Group Prayer – Feel the Difference

When I arrived home tonight, I felt amazing. For me, lately, that’s unusual. It’s been a rough stretch. But I felt well and truly amazing.

That’s when I realized I had been praying, together with other people, all day.

I got together with a group of folks in the morning and we prayed. What an awesome time with God.

In the late afternoon, another prayer group. Again, awesome.

Spent the evening doing our church service at the jail – again, a lot more prayer, together as a group.

And at the end of the day, I felt amazing – body, soul, and spirit.

There is nothing wrong with praying by ourselves. I do that all day long, and I encourage it! But praying with a group is so important too. There are amazing benefits in praying together that we can barely wrap our understanding around.

But you can feel it.

And why should that surprise us? Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20 NKJV). That should make any of us feel amazing!

If you live with or near family, you can start there by praying together as a family. Be intentional about it. Spend time together in prayer.

But not everyone has family nearby. Even for those who do, it’s also great to join with other prayer groups outside of your family. When one person in a family is struggling, the whole family struggles. A prayer group outside your family can help lift these burdens to God at times when you and your family don’t feel able.

Do you have a couple people you can pray together with? If not, ask God to give you the names of a couple people. You might be surprised to discover those very people are looking for this as well.

You can also call your local church and ask if they have a prayer group, or if they would like to create one. They should be able to connect you with a couple like-minded hearts who would enjoy praying together each week.

If you haven’t tried praying with a group lately – try it. You will feel the difference. Let me know how it goes for you.

Prayers for Sweet Sleep

Several of my friends and I are struggling with sleep. Sleep deprivation is not only exhausting but also unhealthy. We have each tried different remedies – even prayer! – and nothing seems to help.

One of my friends reminded me that God put us in relationships, and we need to pray for each other. When one of us struggles, our family and friends need to pray, and vice versa.

So my friend offered to send the three of us a group prayer text at night, praying over us for good sleep. What a wonderful idea! Her reminder was so important: When we struggle, we need to ask folks to pray. We are all in this adventure called “life with God” together, and He has given us the support we need.

What are the things you struggle with, where prayer would help? Who can you ask to pray through those things with you?

Don’t be afraid to ask! God created us for relationship, and that means we get to help and pray for each other. You might be surprised that when you ask your family and friends for prayer, they will also share their prayer needs with you.

Community Prayer Starts with You

Prayers for a community are powerful. Ideally, you want your whole community covered in prayer. Even better, you want your whole community praying.

It takes time. And lots of prayer.

If community prayer is your heart, then it starts with you.

Our community is blessed to have many prayer groups, some who have been active for decades. I also know of prayer groups who met here historically, so we are built on a bedrock of prayer.

Even if your community is newer, and doesn’t have a deep history of prayer, I guarantee you God has already been at work preparing the soil. When you respond to His call to pray, He will bless and flourish the prayers you sow into the community.

For several years in our community, we had a group of intercessors meeting each month to pray together. We came from all different churches. We listened for how God would have us pray, and we prayed in unity. Folks in our community saw fruit of what God had led us to pray. (Remember: Prayer is inviting God to do what He already desires and intends to do.)

This summer, I felt led to start praying with others for the community again. We meet once a week at a sidewalk cafe and pray as God leads us. Sometimes we prayer walk around the streets of downtown.

We pray for our schools, health care, highway safety, law enforcement and first responders, businesses, elderly, people living in poverty, students driving for the first time, and other requests that arise with our community news and daily interactions. Our community prayer group meets right before another group of us goes into the jail for ministry, so we pray for the people in the jail as well.

We also declare together that Jesus is Lord over our community. We invite Him to come and have His way in our town.

If you have a heart to pray for your community, see how God would lead you to respond. Do you feel led to start praying with others? It only takes a couple people to get this started. Don’t feel discouraged if you are the only one at first. Spread the word and show up to pray. Often times, the person who starts the group will pray alone for a few weeks. That’s okay. Be faithful and obedient. Before long, others will join you, and it will be amazing.

Keep track of your prayers. We write ours down and take them home to pray during the week. Notice when and how prayers are answered, and thank God together for what He has done. If people want to join you but can’t come at that time, send them your prayer notes so they can join you in prayer from home.

Here are some ideas of what a praying community looks like.

I pray that God will bless your community prayer group immensely and multiply the fruits from the seeds He sows through your prayers.

 

The Praying Family

“Mommy, I want to pray.”

Katie’s mom turned to look at her for a long moment. The rice on the stove boiled over.

“Okay,” her mom said slowly. She set down the spoon and lowered the flame. “Where did this come from?”

“From VBS! We learned that God likes us to pray, because it means we talk to Him.” She grinned. “He likes when we talk to Him. Plus, when we pray, things get better.” She tilted her head as she looked up at her mom. “Don’t we need things to get better.”

Mom’s lips tightened like they always did when she was trying not to cry. “We sure do.”

“So let’s pray!”

Katie held out her hands for her mom to hold onto, which seemed to surprise her mom even more. Mom pulled up a kitchen chair and sat. She took hold of Katie’s hands.

Silence.

“Do … you want to pray, Katie?”

Katie nodded.

“Dear God. We think you’re really great. And we need help. Love, Katie and Mom.”

Her mom smiled but she was crying.

“Do we need to pray anything else, Katie?”

“That’s pretty much it. I learned that whatever we say, He knows what to do.”

The front door flew open, slamming into the wall. Katie jumped, as always, and Mom shook her head. Justine was home.

Katie smiled as her older sister stomped into the kitchen.

“What are you guys doing?”

“We’re praying.” Katie tried to stand taller.

Justine’s face softened. Her voice dropped to a whisper. “You are?”

“Yes.”

Justine nodded, which puzzled Katie.

“Awesome. Did you pray for our family?”

“Of course!” Katie said. “We asked God to help.”

“I mean the whole family. Like, everyone in our family tree?”

“Our what?”

Justine looked from Katie to their mom. “We learned at Youth that if we pray for our whole family tree, God can bless everyone. It’s called generational blessings. They get blocked a lot, like a river that’s got a dam across it. When we pray, God breaks the dam.”

“Cool!” Katie said.

Their mom looked at Justine for a long time.

“Justine … have you been praying for our family tree?”

She lowered her head and nodded.

Katie felt covered with chilly bumps. “I want to learn how.”

Justine shrugged. “We just ask God to bless our family tree.”

Katie reached out her hands again, this time one for Mom and one for Justine. She smiled when they took hold of her hands.

“Dear God,” Katie said, “thank you for helping us already. Help our family, and God bless our family tree.”

“Amen,” Justine and Mom said together.

“Now,” Mom said, “who wants some burned rice?”

“I do!” Katie said. “It’s going to be the best meal ever.”

Katie grinned as Justine walked to the stove to help their mom, something she almost never did.

***
How many lives did God bless through this one little family’s prayers? What do you think might have happened?

When we pray as a family, or pray for our family, including the generations of our family line, amazing things start to happen, in the lives of people you have never met. All it takes is to start asking God to help. He knows how to do the rest.

The End of the Story

Intercessors don’t often get to hear the end of the story. We pray in faith that God has done whatever He intends to do, in whatever situation He prompted us to pray. And we thank Him for the privilege.

Today, I met a lady I had never met before. She began to share with me about a ministry event God had orchestrated in Israel that took several years in the planning. When she told me the month and the year she received the vision and began to move forward with the planning, and when she told me the nature of the event, my heart began to pound.

As it turns out, I was in Israel at exactly the time the Lord began to germinate this vision with her. The type of event that transpired, several years later, was exactly what He had laid on my heart to pray.

I was excited beyond words to learn how the event had transpired, and the lives God had touched. She was grateful to hear of how God had orchestrated intercession, even with someone she didn’t know at the time, an intercessor who “happened” to be visiting Israel for the first time in my life.

Intercessors often don’t get to hear the end of the story. What a sweet and amazing God, that He allowed me this day to hear this story.

If you are an intercessor, be encouraged. God moves mountains in response to your prayers.

Briar Patch Prayer

Our team gathered at the start of a weekend retreat. Two of our team members, a husband and wife, were missing. Shortly after we began our prayer time, the wife arrived, frantic. Their teenage son had run away from home.

We began to pray for him, that the Lord would bring him home. I felt in my spirit to pray that the Lord would capture him somehow. That the Lord would hold him safely, wherever he was, until help arrived. I prayed the Lord would lead those searching for the boy in the right direction.

An hour later, we received a call from the boy’s father. The boy had been found, and he was okay. A sheriff’s deputy had found him in the woods, tangled up in a briar patch.

God had answered the prayer He prompted, to capture the boy.

Ever since that time, when someone asks me for prayer for a loved one who is running, I ask them, “Would it be okay with you if I pray the briar patch prayer?” And I tell them the story. Everyone I have asked has responded, “Yes.”

One of the hardest times to pray the briar patch prayer is for a loved one out on the streets using drugs. I have volunteered with a men’s addiction regeneration center, and I know mothers and wives often ask for prayer for their loved one who is using. When it’s time to pray, “Lord, catch him,” that is tough for them.

I have a friend, a counselor, who often prays with a mom for her son, “Lord, arrest him.”

This shocks the mom, and often she asks, “Why would you pray that?”

My friend responds, “It will save his life. Or stop him from killing someone else.”

The briar patch prayer might seem natural to pray for a child who has run away and is lost. It is harder for a mom to pray, “Lord, arrest my son.” But if getting arrested will save his life?

Another variation on the briar patch prayer is to pray for God to overload the structure in a person’s life. When a loved one is struggling but refusing help from the Lord, God honors that person’s free will. We, as those who pray for our loved ones, must also honor our loved one’s free will. But we can pray for God to overload the self-made structure on which this person has become dependent.

When a person is struggling and not seeking help from God, often she creates her own “structure” for how to cope and survive. We know this is fleeting, and her own defenses will not withstand the assault of the enemy and the world. She needs God as her only structure. But until she sees that, God will overload her structure until she is ready to come to the end of herself. We can pray He does this, and this prayer will not be violating our loved one’s free will.

When the structure gets too heavy, the person will have to realize her way isn’t working. We need to pray that in that moment, she will see God, and ask for His help.

Have you ever been in a situation where the Lord has pressed on your heart to pray that a loved one gets caught? Or that the structure gets overloaded?

What did you pray? What was the result?

Why I Felt Compelled to Steal a Car

I’ve never stolen in my life.

Imagine my surprise when the urge overcame me to steal a car.

My ministry friends and I were staying at a bed and breakfast while attending a conference out of state. I took a walk after breakfast, enjoying the peaceful morning and small town atmosphere.

On one street, I noticed a car in a driveway and felt the urge to steal it.

What in the world?

I’m an intercessor; I pray for people. I know the enemy looks to trip me up, to distract me. But why the urge to steal? With a myriad of sins to choose from – sins I’ve actually struggled with – why prompt me to do something that’s never occurred to me?

I stopped and prayed in the middle of the street. Which is exactly what God wanted me to do. Turns out the urge to steal was not from the enemy, but from God. Not a prompting to steal. A nudge to pray. As I surveyed the street, listening in my heart, I realized God was letting me know someone was about to steal. I was feeling that person’s heart. God wanted me to pray for that person, so the theft wouldn’t happen, and the person could get help.

As intercessors, we need to be aware of thoughts and emotions that might not be ours. Nor should we give undue credit to the enemy. The thoughts and feelings that touch our heart might be God, allowing us to experience what’s happening around us, so we will pray.

Our prayers change the atmosphere. We need to stay aware and attuned to God’s heart.

Have you experienced something like this?

When a thought comes over you, especially if it seems strange, or comes out of nowhere, stop. Ask the Lord: “What’s going on? Is this my thought? Am I picking this up from someone else who needs prayer? Is it an attempt from the enemy to confuse me? Or is it Your directive to pray?”

I didn’t steal a car that day. I walked the neighborhood for an hour, praying. I believe no one stole a car that day, and someone who needed help received it.

Why Every Intercessor Needs a Cover

Meet my friend Sally. She’s an intercessor. Every time she prays through a battle zone, she emerges feeling as if she is covered with black and blue marks. “That’s just part of being an intercessor,” she says.

Wrong.

Intercessors should not walk around with targets on their backs. It isn’t necessary for intercessors to wear battle wounds.

Every intercessor needs a cover.

Imagine gunfire breaks out on the street. You look out the window and see a child huddled against a building. Will you run out to rescue the child, and risk both the child and you being shot? Or will you ask a friend with a weapon to cover you while you run to get the child?

It’s the same with intercession. Intercessors need intercessors. If someone isn’t covering you while you pray, the enemy will take you out along with the person you’re praying for. That helps no one.

It’s vital to find trustworthy intercessors to cover you daily, as you pray for others. Through their prayer cover, you will be invisible to the enemy, as you intercede for others. God will then move through your prayers to help the person receiving prayer. It’s like a cascade of intercession that keeps the enemy confused and allows God to move in. Intercessors praying for intercessors, so the prayers of intercession for the people asking for prayer can hit their targets.

To build your cover, start by asking God for names of intercessors who will pray for you daily. Ask these folks if they will pray for God to cover you, so you can do what you’re called to do. If those individuals don’t feel called, ask God for more names. Keep building your cover until you have commitments from at least five intercessors. You’ll need more as God expands your reach.

With a secure cover in place, you can move in and out of situations as God calls you to pray. You may feel some bumps and bruises along the way, but you’ll be able to stand firmly under cover and keep lobbing those prayers.