When you are called to serve God as an intercessor, and you say “Yes” to Him, don’t be surprised where He will place you for the purposes of intercession.
In 2013 I was very blessed to be teaching an eight-week course to a church women’s group. The focus of our course was on the challenges of poverty in the community and the church’s response. We worked through a book on poverty. To use with their reading, I printed up and gave each woman a bookmark containing Bible verses that focus on poverty:
I did an inductive Bible study of Exodus 32-34, looking especially at the role of Moses as intercessor between God and His people. Being an intercessor myself, I was curious what Moses could teach us today about intercession. Following are just a few of the takeaways I learned from studying this passage:
If you have made yourself available to God as an intercessor, don’t be surprised if He prompts you to pray in your dreams. I can remember several instances of prayer during sleep. When I awoke, I knew I had been praying for someone. I’ve heard similar situations from intercessor friends.
I was with some friends in a restaurant, and the waiter seemed in a grumpy mood. When I commented about this, one of my friends said, “Then we need to pray for him.”
Her comment made me realize how many times I am quick to complain (even silently) about the way someone is behaving toward me. What if I were to pray instead of complaining?
Have you ever gone through an intense time of intercession? How did you feel when it was over? Intercessors often tell me they feel “black and blue,” as if they have been in a battle. Or they feel heavy or drained after praying for someone. Intercessors often take people home with them spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. They wrestle all night over what the person is going through.
If this is what intercession is like for you, you may be relieved to know it doesn’t have to be that way. Spiritual cleansing prayers can help you be restored to yourself after a time of intercession. You will find it easier to breathe and go about your life, trusting the person or situation to God’s care.
I am blessed with great friends who are intercessors. Each one is planted in a different environment for the purpose of changing the environment. I am always amazed when I hear their stories of how God moves them in prayer during their workday.
Several of my intercessor friends work in corporate environments. The situations, pressures, personality clashes, different religions represented in those environments are fertile ground for intercession. Their daily prayers at work truly change the atmosphere.
How do they know what to pray, and when? God prompts them. As intercessors, they are available to the Lord throughout their work day, in whatever ways He leads.
I remember my own experience working in corporate America, and I wish I had realized back then that God wanted me to pray. I remember flare-ups, crises, family dynamics, wounded hearts, and just plain daily challenges. At any of those moments, I might have been a vessel for God to change the atmosphere, had I known and been ready.
Are you called as an intercessor and placed in a secular environment? Ask God how He wants to use you to pray and change your atmosphere. Ask Him to tell you the reasons He has appointed you in that place, and what He desires to do through your prayers.
Then go to work every day, alert to your environment and attuned to God’s Spirit. Realize you are not just there to do a job, although your work is important. You are also there as a praying vessel, through whom God can affect the environment for His purposes. Set your heart in tune to His, the same way you would tune your transistor radio into a broadcast channel. Then listen; and be. He will prompt you.
Sometimes His promptings will not be obvious to you. You will simply find yourself praying in the spirit, and not knowing why. Just obey, and do as He leads. At other times, the circumstances will be obvious, and you will know to pray. Again, pray in the spirit, and let the Holy Spirit lead your prayers. He knows what He desires to do in that atmosphere, and He needs a willing intercessor – you! – to say, “Yes, Lord. Please do that. Have Your way here today.”
How amazing to go home at the end of the workday and realize you have lived, actively, in the kingdom of God today.
The corporate environment is just one example. I have another intercessor friend who works at a public school, where as we know, prayers are not allowed by staff. However, because she is attuned to God each day, she knows when and how to pray silently on behalf of the students. As she learns more about prayer, and the ways God works in people’s lives, she is able to pray more specifically. I know other teachers who pray for their students. They may not feel called specifically as intercessors, but there is a wealth of prayer happening at the public schools on any given day, which means God is moving in that atmosphere and changing students’ lives.
Another precious intercessor friend was led on a different path of prayer. She went through a difficult surgical procedure followed by a challenging recovery time. Before her surgery, a group of us prayed with her, and she told us, “I can’t wait for the surgery to be over, so God can start using me.”
What she didn’t realize was how much she had just ministered to us, by sharing how closely she felt to the Lord during this time. What a scary proposition she was facing medically, knowing the difficulties and the risks. She didn’t feel well to begin with, and now she had to accept a really hard road to walk with the Lord. But she focused on Him and felt His presence. She made a point to stay in His presence, and she let God bring her His strength and comfort. Whenever she felt afraid, or weak, she turned to the Lord and was encouraged. What struck me the most was her surrender, her willingness to just “be” with Him, no matter what she had to face.
Because of her peace and her surrender, she was ministering strength and encouragement to us, as we listened and prayed with her. She said she couldn’t wait for God to use her, once this was over. Yet here He was, using her right now.
I told her, “Your ministry has already begun.”
The next week, she went into the hospital for her surgery. Imagine all the ways God used her, as an intercessor, during the prep time at the hospital, with people all around her, and with her allowing the Holy Spirit to flow through her and to affect the atmosphere. Even during the difficult weeks of recovery, imagine how God used her as an intercessor to the hospital staff, to her visitors, and to those who were praying for her. So many people told her during that recovery time, “You have blessed me today.” She gave all the glory to God and told them of His constant presence and love. What a witness. All because she bloomed as an intercessor where she was planted.
When you are called as an intercessor, God intends to use you right where you are. He has placed intercessors all over the world, in every city, in every neighborhood. Some may not be aware of their calling; others may be aware, but unsure of how to step into their calling. But He has placed a network of intercessors worldwide, so that He can change our world.
This doesn’t mean God doesn’t move us around or call us into new environments and seasons. But for this moment, today, ask God how He desires to use you, right where you are.
Are you one of His intercessors? Whether you know you are, and have actively been praying, or whether you think you might be, and don’t know where to start – take this moment to talk with God. Ask Him for His vision for you as an intercessor. Realize that it starts right here, right now. Be ready to listen to Him, and keep your heart attuned to Him. And bloom, right where you’re planted. If every intercessor blooms in our own flower bed, God can truly change the world, and we will see the kingdom of God more and more, around us every day.
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.
A fellow intercessor and I were just talking about how easy it is to feel schizophrenic when listening to God and praying for people.
If you’re an intercessor, you can probably relate to this feeling. Not just intercessors, either. Any follower of Christ can feel this way.
It’s that question we all have when God shows us something in prayer for another person: Do I share it with the person? Or is this just for intercession?
I can’t answer that question. There’s no formula, unfortunately, and there’s a reason for that too. God wants us to seek Him. He wants us to bring those questions to Him – again, and again. The Holy Spirit wants to guide us – not just giving one formulaic answer for all time, but rather guiding us, step by step, through each moment of every unique situation.
It can be frustrating. You might feel like you’re losing your mind. Your friends may think you keep changing your mind. But really, it’s simply the step-by-step process of navigating in the spirit realm, and the way it affects life in the natural. You’re following the Holy Spirit, and often that means step forward, back up, move sideways, come back this way, go that way, stop, start, rest, okay, let’s run!
Don’t be discouraged. This is a normal part of worshiping God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). He knows how to lead you in every situation. He will make Himself clearer as you press into Him. With every step, keep looking at Him for your next direction. You won’t get the big picture. But you will get what you need for this moment.
You’re not schizophrenic. You’re a human being (and perhaps someone who is called as an intercessor) learning to follow the Holy Spirit, the creator of all things, who is absolutely Other than we are.
Keep at it! Keep following the Spirit, listening, praying, seeking Him with every question, at every turn, in every step. He is molding you, growing you in relationship with Him and with others, and restoring His image in you. It’s an amazing journey. Enjoy the ride!
Have you prayed for someone you care about on an issue that seems overwhelming? Are you discouraged because you haven’t seen your prayers answered?
Don’t be discouraged. God is answering. He is working in the life of the person you are praying for – and He is working in your life as well, through this experience.
When you get discouraged, stop and focus on what God is doing. I guarantee you He is doing something. If you look closely and ask for His discernment, you will feel His response in your spirit and you might even see it in the flesh.
Here’s the problem we often encounter with intercession (besides our impatience and unbelief) – we expect the outcome to look a certain way and we get discouraged when we don’t see that particular outcome.
What if God is answering our prayers in ways we didn’t expect?
Let’s say I am praying for a loved one to break free of addiction. I’ve prayed for months and have seen no changes in the addictive behavior.
But what do I see? If I look closely enough, I might see that the person’s heart has softened toward his family. Or maybe he spends more time with his children, wanting to be involved in their activities and hear about their day.
Maybe this person is starting to suffer with stomach problems. Don’t be surprised if that is an answer from God. It could be that God is allowing my loved one to feel an immediate physical result of his addiction, to get his attention. The stomach problem might be intolerable enough to drive my loved one to get help for what he really needs.
How about my loved one’s family? Is his wife becoming more willing to confront her husband’s behavior? Are his children less angry or afraid? Have they started to pray for him? Are his parents enabling him less and speaking the truth more?
What is God doing in my heart through this process? Am I so focused on what isn’t happening to my loved one that I have failed to notice how many people in addiction God has sent to me for prayer? Or maybe He has presented me with an opportunity to speak about addiction in the community, and I never realized this was part of God’s response to those prayers for my loved one.
Has God improved my heart toward my loved one in the process of praying for him? Are my prayers getting more specific and rooted in God’s Word? Am I spending more time with God?
Every one of these changes is an answer to those prayers. God is working hard to respond to the cries of our hearts. It’s important that we open our eyes to see what He is really doing so we can surrender our prayer lives to Him.
The next time you wonder why God doesn’t seem to be answering your prayers, stop and look closely at what He is actually doing in response to those heartfelt prayers. You will be amazed.