Someone has wryly observed that saying to a person “I’ll pray for you” has become the way Christians say good-bye. It’s a clever line, but it has enough truth in it to sting a little.
Nothing is easier at church or on the telephone than to tell a Christian friend you’ll pray for him or her. We know we are supposed to pray for others, and we sincerely want to pray. But we sometimes forget to follow up on our prayer promises.
The fact that other people would seek our prayers on their behalf and the fact that we feel burdened to pray for them underscores the importance of intercession. The meaning of intercession is to go before the Father on behalf of others: our sisters and brothers in Christ, lost people, family members, and anyone else who needs prayer.
God is looking for intercessors. He is ready to bless and save and comfort and restore—and in His wisdom, He has decided that He will move in response to the prayers of His people.
The ministry of intercession doesn’t need a lot of explaining. We can pray for anyone God lays on our hearts, and we can pray for anything in their lives that is within God’s will. And in those cases where our prayers for others do not align with His will, God has a way of bringing our requests in line with His desires.
You won’t find a better biblical intercessor that the apostle Paul. Time and again he told the people to whom he wrote that he prayed for them, constantly and fervently. A classic example of this kind of prayer is found in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (1:15-19a).
Paul went right to the heart of the Ephesian believers’ spiritual needs. He prayed that they would know God intimately. He also asked God to open the eyes of their spiritual understanding so that they would grasp the greatness of their position in Christ. When Paul said, “I’ll pray for you,” he prayed!! How about us?
The writer is the pastor at First Baptist Church, 309 E. North St., Sidney.