Praying for others or those we love, also called prayer of intercession, is an important part of our Christian walk.
When we intercede on behalf of another person, it shows our faith in the power of prayer and also demonstrates our commitment to being intentional supporters and encouragers.
An intercessory prayer is an act of sacrificial love. It involves humbling ourselves before the Lord and asking that He work His perfect will in the lives of those who are special to us.
Interceding for loved ones need not be complicated. Factually, it’s often a simple act of love and devotion.
This guide aims to help you understand how you can effectively pray for others, as well as provide some suggestions about how to go about doing so. We’ll explore:
- How to focus your prayers so that they’re effective
- What specifically to pray
- How to encourage one another in prayer
Intercession is a powerful type of prayer that involves standing in the gap for another person. It is a way of honoring and praying for someone else in a special way. Intercession can bring God’s grace and peace to those who are hurting and in need.
Let’s take a closer look at what intercession is and how to intercede for another person:
Definition of Intercession (Praying for Others)
Intercession is the act of praying on behalf of another person or group, including those who are not physically present. It can be prayed by individuals privately or in a group setting, such as a church service.
Intercessory prayer is considered a powerful way to discern and respond to God’s will and the needs of others and is often offered in times of distress, prayer requests, mourning, and celebration.
Intercession exists throughout the Bible and was part of Jesus’ earthly ministry when He often interceded on behalf of those who needed help or were suffering in some way.
In Matthew 9:35-38 we see an example of Jesus’ intercessory power to heal those around Him.
The New Testament Epistles are filled with instructions for believers to pray for one another:
The apostle Paul encourages us all when he says:
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men.– 1 Timothy 2:1 (NKJV)
Biblical examples of how to Intercede
Intercessory prayer is a special kind of prayer in which one person (or a group of people) prays for another person or group of persons, asking God to meet his/her or their needs.
It is based on the biblical principle of praying for each other, as we are taught in the book of James:
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.– James 5:16 (NKJV)
This can be especially meaningful when interceding on behalf of someone who is dealing with difficult times or needing a miracle from God.
In many ways, the Bible is full of intercessory prayers and examples of individuals praying for others. Here are some stand-out examples:
- Abraham pleaded with God on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:22-33).
- Moses prayed for Israel (Exodus 32), as did Samuel (1 Samuel 12:23).
- Hannah prayed for her son Samuel before he was born (1 Samuel 1) – and received her request from God!
- Elijah interceded three times when King Ahab refused to repent (1 Kings 18:43–45).
- Esther implored the Lord on behalf of her people and asked for deliverance from extermination by wicked Haman (Esther 4).
- The Hebrew midwives pleaded with Pharaoh not to kill innocent babies – and God heard them! (Exodus 1)
- And Jesus, in His famous High Priestly prayer in John 17 intercedes on behalf of all believers who would follow after Him.
Steps for Praying for Others
Intercession, or praying for others, can be a powerful way to support and uplift the people you care about. Prayers for others can help protect, guide, and bring healing.
In this section, we will discuss the steps for interceding for those you love.
Pray for their salvation
One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is to intercede for their spiritual growth and salvation.
Throughout Scripture, God consistently speaks about His desire for people to come to Him in repentance so that they can have eternal life.
Prayer is a powerful way to speak up on behalf of your loved ones and ask God’s grace and mercy on them.
First, ask the Lord to reveal Himself to them in a powerful way so they won’t deny His existence or power. Pray that their eyes will be opened and they will recognize the truth of who He is and the marvelous things He has done for us all (Ephesians 1:19).
Second, pray for conviction of sin and repentance. Ask that their heart will be broken over sin, specifically any sin patterns in which they are particularly entrenched (Mark 2:17). Pray that their understanding of sin would be deepened and our heavenly Father would grant them a renewed desire to turn away from it (Romans 6:12-13).
Third, pray for spiritual hunger and thirst. Just as Jesus spoke about humans being “hungry” for righteousness (Matthew 5:6), prayerfully ask that your loved one develop a deep thirst for Him – that they would eagerly seek after Him with all their hearts (Jeremiah 29:13).
Fourth, pray against spiritual hindrances or bondage. If there are any particular areas where your friend or relative may be bound by sins such as addiction or anger, bring those before God as an act of intercession. Ask that whatever lies holding them captive would be broken in the power of Christ (John 8:32).
Finally, commit yourself to continued prayer on behalf of those you love. As though you were standing between them and victory!
Know all things are possible with God; nothing less than miraculous answers may follow your prayers! And when those do come through – praise Him!
Pray for physical and emotional healing
Praying for the physical healing of a loved one is a basic way to intercede for them.
Ask God for miracles of healing and strength in the areas of physical and mental ailments your loved ones are facing.
Specific requests for healing tend to be more powerful than general prayers, so focus on praying for a particular problem or illness.
In times when the person’s suffering seems insurmountable, ask God to give your loved one peace and comfort that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:7).
Offer prayer that they will feel His presence with them during their darkest hours. Ask God to fill them with hope, strength, and courage as they continue on their journey.
For emotional issues, focus on spiritual healing and comfort through prayer. Pray scriptures over them like Psalm 34:17-19 or Jeremiah 33:3 that Jesus is near to all who call upon His name in truth (Psalm 145:18).
Pray specific scriptures out loud if possible, or at least in your heart as you bring those you love before Him in prayer of intercession.
Pray for protection
Praying for protection is an important part of intercession for those you care about.
- Pray that God will protect them from any physical, emotional, or spiritual harm and keep them safe from danger.
- Ask God to give them faith to believe the promises and strength against temptation, as well as discernment, should difficulties arise.
- Pray that they will understand the spiritual authority they have in Christ and use it to ward off evil and resist temptation.
To further pray for their protection, ask God to:
- Surround them with His holy angels who can protect and encourage them in times of need.
- Provide wise counsel or a trusted confidante should they ever feel lost, so that they can be reassured and allowed to grow in their faith journey with Him.
- Whatever current season of life your loved one is facing – whether going through a challenging trial or an exciting opportunity – God would be at work protecting their mind, body, emotions, and most importantly spirit.
Pray for their spiritual growth
Praying for the spiritual growth of your loved ones is an important part of interceding.
These prayers should focus on their relationship with God and developing a deeper understanding and appreciation of His Word.
- Pray that they will gain knowledge, wisdom, and discernment as they read Scripture, listen to sermons, or engage in other spiritual activities.
- Ask that they turn to God when faced with difficult decisions and seek His counsel during times of testing.
- Other prayer points may include pleading to God for a heart that seeks Him and a transformed life.
- Ask Him to give them strength as they strive to serve Him faithfully and follow His leading in their lives.
- Pray that they rely on the Lord’s guidance even when it doesn’t make sense from their perspective.
Additionally, pray for protection from anything that would impede their spiritual growth such as:
- Distractions. and
- Negative influences
Benefits of Intercession
Intercession is a powerful tool in the life of a believer. Not only can it help strengthen your own faith, but it can also help bring comfort and peace to those you are praying for.
Interceding on behalf of your loved ones can be a way to actively show your love and concern for them even when you are not physically with them.
Let’s explore some of the benefits of intercession:
When you intercede for a loved one, you affirm your relationship with them and deepen it. As you lift up their needs and desires during your prayers, your heart becomes more closely connected to the person’s situation.
The prayers become focused on the other person and their concerns instead of your (own) requests to God. This prayer can open a door to communication with the one you are interceding for, as well as demonstrate that they are valued.
Additionally, when you regularly practice intercession for those around you, it strengthens the bond between members of a faith community or church congregation and allows them to serve one another in this act of love and care.
The prayer of intercession is powerful – it shows that we are willing to put someone else’s needs before ours to show our love for them.
It allows us to set aside our selfish desires and focus on what our loved ones need for their lives to be better or easier, whether those be physical needs or spiritual needs, proving that we truly care about another’s well-being and not just our own.
Developing a heart of compassion
Developing a heart of compassion is key to powerful intercession and prayer. Compassion has the power to envelop people in love and draw them closer to God.
As we take on the same mind of love, mercy, and grace that Jesus Christ has revealed in Scripture, we recognize that intercession is not simply an obligation or spiritual exercise, but rather a way to actively engage in His desire for restoration and transformation.
Interceding with a heart of compassion will help you pray more effectively by prompting you to lift others (up) before the Lord, look for their good qualities, forgive them when necessary, focus on their potential for growth – no matter how long it may take, and see with eyes of faith instead of despair.
With each earnest intercessory prayer, the Lord may surprise you with unexpected resolutions or bring about unexpected peace as He works through your supplications.
A heart of compassion will naturally draw us closer to Jesus because He is our ultimate example of mercy and love.
In developing a compassionate spirit toward others, our prayers become less focused on ourselves and more focused on God’s vision for redemption.
When we can walk alongside someone else in prayerful supplication after reflecting upon Christ’s (own) sacrificial entrance into our world, then our prayers gain remarkable power as “we labor together with Him” (1 Corinthians 3:9) in intercession for others.
Intercessory prayer can be an exceptionally powerful way of strengthening one’s faith and sense of connection with God.
When we choose to intercede on behalf of others, it is a sign of our awareness that we are a part of something greater than ourselves – an interconnected family, neighborhood, faith community, or even world.
Intercession is the act of standing in the spiritual gap between the people we love and their Creator – trusting God to work in their lives.
As we understand more fully how God’s mercy, grace, and blessings flow regardless of our circumstances or requests, our (own) capacity to accept these gifts grows as well.
We come to learn that every victory and every setback is part of His infinite story that doesn’t end but finds ultimate expression on the Day when all things are made new in Christ.
We come to realize our role as conduits for His keeping power during times when it is not possible for us to do anything but intercede and stand firm in faith.
When followers of Jesus lift themselves before Him in prayer for family members or friends who need healing or guidance, it is an important way of committing oneself to honoring the One who has committed Himself completely to us – even if our prayers are not answered in precisely the way we hoped they would be.
It demonstrates obedience, trust, and an openness to hearing from Him whatever He chooses.
And above all else, it lays a foundation for inner growth that strengthens faith over time and encourages spiritual growth that outlasts outer circumstances.
Intercessory prayer can be a powerful and rewarding way to support your family, friends, and those around you. Remember to pray for the person lovingly and compassionately. In addition to praying for the specific person or situation, make sure to also speak positive affirmations over them.
Here are some tips for praying for others:
- Remind yourself of God’s promises of faithfulness and help, and draw strength from that promise as you continue in prayer.
- Allow God to take control of the situation as you carry this burden with love and faith.
- And perhaps most importantly, thank God immensely for all that he has done – it will align your heart in perfect alignment with his will!
Frequently Asked Questions
What does it mean to intercede for someone?
Interceding for someone means to pray on their behalf. It’s a way of offering up prayers of protection, healing, and guidance for another person.
How should I start praying for someone?
Start by asking God for guidance and for the strength to pray for the person in need. Ask for the wisdom to discern what the person needs and the courage to speak out on their behalf.
What are some specific ways I can pray for someone?
You can pray for physical healing, emotional healing, spiritual healing, or any combination of these. Pray for protection from harm, strength to overcome obstacles, and guidance to make wise decisions.