What is intercessory prayer? Quite simply, intercessory prayer is the act of praying on behalf of others.
Paul tells us of Epaphras, a member of the church in Colosse, who “is always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.” Epaphras prayed for the people in the church to be spiritually mature, for them to be complete and whole, and also for them to fulfill the will of God. Now that is an example of intercessory prayer; it focuses on fulfilling the ministry and the mission of the church.
One of the concerns we often have about our prayer ministry is that the requests we receive are overwhelmingly for those who are sick. Now there is no doubt that the church is called to pray for the sick. But so often it seems the church is just absolutely obsessed with praying sick sinners out of heaven and totally oblivious to praying lost sinners out of hell. We need to have the right priority when it comes to our intercession. It’s about praying for “Christ’s Kingdom to come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” That means focusing on the spiritual welfare of the church and its mission, as we remember the physical needs of those who are sick.
There is also an erroneous idea in contemporary Christianity that those who offer up intercessory prayers are a special class of “super-Christians,” called by God to a specific ministry of intercession. The Bible is clear that all Christians are called to be intercessors. All Christians have the Holy Spirit in their hearts and, just as He intercedes for us in accordance with God’s will (Romans 8:26-27), we are to intercede for one another.