“Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.”Ephesians 6:18
Some of my most intimate times with the Lord have been spent praying for other people. It welcomes his presence and I experience him in such a near and close way. I have also experienced some of the most profound moments of wisdom and revelation while praying for others.. In deep intercession—or asking God for specific things on behalf of people we care about— I feel closer than ever to God’s heart.
Jesus is living to intercede for us (Hebrews 7:25). When we join him in intercession for the people in our lives, there is a deep unity found with him. The Spirit intercedes for us (Romans 8:26). How much closer could we get to God than his Spirit praying through us, for us and instead of us? When we pray deeply for others, our hearts and emotions connect on a personal level with the heart and emotions of the Father. It is a gateway to sharing his heart and therefore knowing him deeper—which should always be our goal.
I believe praying for others is a way to fellowship in Jesus’ sufferings. You aren’t typically in deep intercession for someone when everything is perfect in their heart, mind, body and life. Jesus knows every weakness and is intimately acquainted with the sufferings of all his followers. He walks with us. So we join him in walking out pain and suffering—for a fellow believer—through prayer. This also brings us together in spirit with one another (Colossians 2:5).
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”Romans 8:26
As the Spirit of God groans inside of us, we are fellowshipping in God’s sufferings.
Maybe you’re not sure how you can pray for someone else or how effective your prayers are. Or maybe the idea of groaning in intercession seems intimidating or scary. But the burdens we experience in prayer are the Lord’s, not our own. It is only with his strength and his very Spirit inside of us thatwe partner with him on this level of intercession. Trust God’s power and trust his strength to help you carry out his burden. Your weakness is a set up for his strength. Trust that he is in you, working and interceding when you don’t know how to pray, and ask him to fill you afresh with his Spirit, his heart, and his prayers.
There is also something tangible God gives to help us in prayer. When I am not sure what to pray for someone, I go to the Word and I pray that.
I like using passages or individual verses in the Bible as a template for prayer. Praying the Word is a powerful tool we can use when we are not sure how to pray for someone. As we pray through the Word over someone else, we are depositing the Word in our own hearts and minds. It is our most powerful weapon (Ephesians 6:17). Jesus also taught us how to pray, in Matthew 6, specifically the Lord’s Prayer in verses 9-13. I highly recommend memorizing this passage if you have not already. This is the most effective prayer we can pray, and it covers all our bases. It can be followed as a temperate as we expound on the themes given and tailor the language to our specific situation.
When I pick a small passage or verse to pray for someone, as I use each word as a guide and inspiration for my prayers, I find I am blessed with deeper understanding and my eyes are enlightened to the verses I am praying; it is a form of meditation. As we sow in righteousness in others lives, through praying with the sword of the Spirit, we can expect to also reap a harvest in our own lives.
We are part of one body, the Body of Christ. Let us do our part as a member of this body, by praying for the other members, and we will receive the benefits of our prayers. Since we are all members of one another, when we care for the other members, we are also caring for ourselves. When one member is affected, the whole body is affected. (Romans 12:4-5)
Praying for others produces in us humility, because it takes our eyes off ourselves and points them to the Lord and his people. Oftentimes, when my spiritual life feels dry, it is because I have been so focused on myself. Usually hung up on my faults, shortcomings and failures—which are too many to count—and they often grow bigger and more problematic the more I look at them. I find myself in a pit dug from the spiral of an introspective mind. But as I take my eyes off myself, and fix them back on the Lord, I start to feel what is on his heart. And people are on his heart. Praying for people with Jesus brings me back into intimacy with him. I am doing what he loves to do, and in fact what he lives to do (Hebrews 7:25).
There is nothing wrong with praying for ourselves and crying out to the Lord for help in our personal life. We should be doing this consistently. Being honest with the Lord with our hearts and minds is necessary (Psalm 102:1, Psalm 142:2). But sometimes we do get stuck in a rut because we get stuck on ourselves. When we come to him in prayer we learn humility, because he is humble. And when we have a humble heart, we receive the secrets of his heart and the deep feelings he has for his sheep, which in turn, pushes us deeper in love with Jesus. We are free to pray for one another, because we can trust Jesus is interceding for us (Hebrews 7:25) and believe that our brothers and sisters are also lifting us up in prayer.
Prayer is a ministry. We do not have to wait until someone recognizes us or calls us up to a certain role, or wait until we have a job at a church, or have a following of people to be active in ministry. Ministry looks like partnering with Jesus, and one of the most effective ways we can do this is through prayer! Our personal prayer life, even though it is hidden, is in fact ministry to others and more importantly to the Lord.
The most important parts of our bodies are hidden on the inside, such as: our brain, heart, lungs, liver, gut, blood, blood cells, etc. Everything that keeps our body alive and functioning is unseen—beneath the surface. This is a parallel to the ministry of prayer. Most will not see the prayer and intercession, yet it is the very thing holding together a healthy body and allowing the body to work and function how it should. Prayer works behind the scenes, giving life to the members who most need it; calling the lost sheep home, bringing wisdom and understanding, sustaining the weary from giving up, and keeping us connected to the head, which is Christ. Prayer is very important. It is the avenue for God’s blessing and power in the lives of his people.
Praying for others can sometimes be a wrestle, a true labor of love. Paul talks about his friend, Epaphras, wrestling or struggling in prayer for the Colossians (Colossians 4:12).
Jesus tells us in John 15:3, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
One practical way to lay your life down for your friends is by praying for them. Maybe there is someone close to you who has gone astray from the Lord, or is going through a season of loss and great pain; someone who desperately needs your prayers. Let us fellowship with Jesus while we struggle for them in prayer. And remember the burden and the strength come from the Holy Spirit.
However, to pray for someone, there does not have to be great trouble in their lives. Prayer for others can also be full thanksgiving and rejoicing for what God has done and is continuing to do in their lives.
“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints.”Colossians 1:3-4
With thanksgiving, ask him to continue pouring out blessing and abundance in the lives of believers you are connected to. For example, pray that they would be full of praise, knowing they are fearfully and wonderfully made, and would know in their soul God’s marvelous works (Psalm 139). Pray that they would experience God’s presence in their lives in deeper ways and that they would grow in their love and communion with him. Pray they would grow in the knowledge of Jesus, and understand how much he loves them. These prayers are all based on Scripture.
Here are some amazing passages to pray over the people in your life, no matter what season they are in: Romans 8, 1 Corinthians 1:4-9, 2 Corinthians 1:3-7, Ephesians 1:16-19, Ephesians 3:14-19, Colossians 1:9-14, and the list goes on.
Love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8), and it is the highest calling for our lives. This is how the world knows we follow Jesus, if we love one another (John 13:25). What a special and specific way to love one another: by remembering each other in our prayers, and lifting one another up to Jesus.
Photo Credit: @lydsupinger
I love Jesus and I love His Church. I love writing biblical articles to encourage people in their walk as they follow Jesus. I'm local to Charlotte, and a classically trained violinist, playing for weddings and events in North and South Carolina.