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5 Principles for Effective Prayers of Intercession

5 Principles for Effective Prayers of Intercession

I exhort therefore, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men–1 Tim. 2:2.

Are you a believer in Christ seeking a more effective prayer life?  If so, then it’s  important for you to  learn God’s principles for prayer so that your  prayers of intercession may receive His response.

These divine principles for effective prayers of intercession are revealed in God’s Word, They’re awaiting our discovery and application.

So in this post, we’ll consider five of these divine principles from Genesis 18 to see how Abraham practiced  effective prayers of intercession so that we also can apply them in our prayer life.

Five basic principles for effective prayers of intercession

Intercession refers to an act of interceding, an interposing or pleading on behalf of someone in difficulty or trouble. In the Bible it refers to our prayer to God on behalf others.

In Genesis 18, we can see Abraham’s intercession to God on behalf of Lot, his nephew. This case reveals at least five basic principles for our effective prayers of intercession.

Effective prayers of intercession are:

1. Initiated by God’s revelation—Gen. 18:17-21

God was seeking an intercessor and He found one in Abraham. After receiving the meal prepared by Abraham, God made His heart known to him in Genesis 18:17-21 where God begins by saying, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?…

Part of the footnote on this verse in the Holy Bible Recovery Version says,

“…God revealed His heart’s desire. The proper intercession is not initiated by man but by God’s revelation. Thus it expresses God’s desire and paves the way for the accomplishing of His will.”

Today, we can receive God’s revelation by reading His Word and proper ministry books that open up the Word. In Ephesians 3:3-4, Paul said,

“That by revelation the mystery was made know to me, as I have written previously in brief, by which in reading it, you can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ.”

2. For God’s people—Gen. 18:23

Both God and Abraham were concerned for Lot—one of God’s people who drifted into the world.

Although God had determined to judge that corrupted world, His heart was concerned for Lot, particularly as it relates to Lot’s relationship with Christ. Ruth, who would become a great grandmother of Jesus was a Moabitess, a descendant of Lot and God was concerned for Lot in order to protect Christ’s genealogy through her.

True prayers of intercession focus on God’s interest in His people. They are related to God’s gaining people in order to bring  forth Christ in them  and through them (Gal. 4:19). God needs us to intercede for His people, including the backslidden ones like Lot so that Christ can be brought forth in them and through them.

May our prayers be turned from our private interests to care for God’s interest in people according to the desire of His heart.

3. An intimate conversation with God according to God’s heart—Gen. 18:22-33

“…Abraham remained standing before Jehovah” (v. 22). There God and Abraham had an intimate conversation as between two friends (Isa. 41:8).

It’s amazing to see how God opened His heart to Abraham and how Abraham conversed with God—even challenging God—on a human level, in such an intimate way.

To learn this lesson, we first need to learn to fellowship with the Lord. Then we need to learn to linger in His presence—to have an intimate conversation with Him.

This hymn: “Pray to fellowship Jesus, in the spirit seek His face” really develops this point. I encourage you to pray over the lyrics to learn to have such an intimate conversation with the Lord.

4. According to God’s righteous way—Gen. 18:23-32

Abraham learned another lesson regarding intercession, that is, how to appeal to God according to His righteousness (Gen. 18:23-32). Whether God expresses His love and grace toward a person may fluctuate according to His feeling. But God’s righteousness is absolute.

Righteousness is the foundation of God’s throne (Psa. 89:14).  So we need to learn how to challenge God according to His righteousness.

However, holding God to His righteousness is difficult to do without an adequate knowledge of God’s Word. For example, if God has given us His word of promise in the Scriptures, He would be unrighteous if He does not do according to His Word.

May we learn to intercede by praying, “Lord, You said in Your Word…now do as You have spoken and fulfill Your promise.”

C. H. Spurgeon in The Secret of Power in Prayer said,

You put your finger down upon the very lines, and say, “Do as thou hast said.” This is the best praying in all the world. O beloved, be filled with God’s Word. (p. 21)

5. God speaking in our speaking—Gen. 18:33

Finally, we can see that Abraham’s intercession ended not with Abraham, but with God. Genesis 18:33 says,

And Jehovah went away as soon as He had finished speaking with Abraham…”

This Word gives us two practical points to remember. First, genuine intercession is God’s speaking in our speaking. Second, our prayers of intercession should  end when God has finished His speaking.  So we need to learn to remain with the Lord until He has finished His speaking.

Often, we look at the time and say, “My prayer time is over.” But, has God really finished His speaking? We may actually walk away from Him leaving the Lord with  no channel through which to finish His  intercession.  May we learn to let the Lord speak in our speaking and let Him finish His speaking.

Concluding thoughts…

As earnest believers in Christ, the Lord will surely lay many people on our heart.  He may give us the burden to pray for our family, friends, relatives, colleagues, classmates and neighbors. They all need our prayer, whether it is for their salvation, growth in Christ, or restoration from a backslidden ore dormant condition.

But,  it is not only they who need God and His salvation. Even more, God needs them for the accomplishment of His purpose for Christ and the church, His Body.

To this end may we be one with God to pray prayers of intercession that are:

1) Initiated by His revelation,
2) For His people,
3) In an intimate conversation with Him,
4) According to His righteous way and
5) With Him speaking in our speaking.

In this way God, can carry out His desire and accomplish His will on this earth.

If you’ve been helped by this post to see the divine principles for prayers of intercession, please share your appreciation in a comment.

References and Further Resources:

About Tom Smith

Hi. My name is Tom Smith. I'm the writer behind Holding to Truth in Love, and I love the Lord Jesus and His life-giving Word. Please feel free to send me an e-mail through the contact page if you have any questions. I hope you'd take a moment to subscribe to the Holding to Truth blog. Then you'll be sure not to miss a post. Thanks!

22 Replies

  1. Fred Northrup

    Excellent article. How good it is to be one spirit with Him, have our mind set on the spirit, and linger with Him to intercede with Him for His people.

    1. Tom Smith

      That’s right. We can only experience the reality of such a life of intercession by living in one spirit with our Lord (1 Cor. 6:17). As we set our mind on the spirit, minding the things of the spirit (Rom. 8:5-6) He is able to reveal His intention to us so that our heart becomes a reflection of His. Then when we pray prayers of intercession, they will really be the expression of His desire and carry out His will. May we learn to linger in the Lord’s presence so that He can make His heart desire known to us and so that we can intercede for His people. Thanks for the confirming comment.

  2. Tai

    I enjoyed the need to fellowship with the Lord. Thank you.

    1. Tom Smith

      Very good. Intercession begins by having intimate fellowship with the Lord on a human level. When through our fellowship, God considers us His friend, He will also make known to us the desire of His heart. So intercession is no merely asking God to do things for us. It is entering into God’s heart, touching His desire for His people and expressing that in pray so that God’s will can be carried out.

  3. Clark

    Amen and nice photo!

    1. Tom Smith

      Glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for letting me share your photos on HoldingtoTruth!

  4. Jeremiah Palomar

    God needs many “friends” who will commune with Him on a human level and intercede on behalf of the brothers who are drifting away..Thanks for sharing this post.

  5. Your sharing reminds me of James 5:17. Literally, Elijah prayed in a prayer. Elijah did not initiate the prayer nor did he pray with his own words; he prayed what he was given to pray. May we all learn to apply these five principles.

    1. Tom Smith

      That’s a good illustration. Elijah “earnestly prayed,” is literally “prayed in a prayer.” That means Elijah prayed in the prayer given him by the Lord for the accomplishing of God’s will. So Elijah’s prayer did not originate with himself, anymore than Abraham’s prayer did. God was the initiator, giving both Abraham and Elijah the revelation of His will. This means that genuine intercession is not cheap. We can’t hastily utter things from our own mind and expect God to do whatever we say. We first need to become the “friend of God” (James 2:23), one that God knows and in whom He can confide. This first requires us to learn how to have fellowship with Him in prayer. That’s why I appreciate the hymn, “Pray to fellowship with Jesus” so much (see lyrics). May the Lord lead us into this deeper experience of the prayers of intercession.

  6. Blossom Chen

    I have been very touched by Intercessory Prayer that I, as a believer, need to be one with God by knowing Him and experiencing Him intimately, so that He can initiate His heart’s desire to me to pray for others. I want the Lord to work more of Himself in me by spending more time with Him, by confessing, and by learning to linger more in His presence.

    1. Tom Smith

      Thanks for the confirming comment. May the Lord gain many more of His lovers who will be touched with His heart for those around them and pray interceding prayers by spending time with the Lord to know Him and His desire. May we learn to linger in His presence and allow Him to pray in our praying. By such an exercise we can become the Lord’s friend, men of preciousness, who are one with Him and His will on earth.

  7. sister

    Thank You, Lord Jesus, for this morning. Amen. May we rejoice and be glad in it. Amen.
    Thank You, Lord Jesus, for C. H. Spurgeon and his quote from page 21 of The Secret of Power in Prayer. Amen.
    Lord Jesus, we may be firmly planted in the Way of prayer until You are finished speaking. Amen.
    One time I prayed with a sister who graduated from the training, and I concluded the prayer after seven minutes.
    I am used to having short prayers, and I did not think she wanted to pray with me. I did not want to keep her. That was the only chance that we got to pray.
    I knew that I had just grieved the Spirit because I had that feeling in my throat that I only get when I am about to
    cry, but I am trying to hold it in. Then a tear rose in my eye. Lord Jesus, help me not to grieve the Spirit by concluding prayer
    too soon. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for Your Person as righteousness, and Lord Jesus, may we challenge You according to it. Amen.
    Lord Jesus, may the next generation of the saints, the trainees, trainers, serving ones, and graduates be so intimate with You,
    so personal and affectionate with You in a sweet, prayerful fellowship. Amen. Lord Jesus, saturate and soak their secret, deepest
    parts. Amen. Lord Jesus, may Your intercessors be initiated in prayer by a proper revelation. Amen. Thank You, Lord Jesus
    for these principles. Amen.

  8. Esther

    Beautiful piece indeed.

    1. Tom Smith

      Glad you enjoyed the post. May the Lord bless you as you seek to experience Him in the way of effective prayer.

  9. Josephine

    God bless you for this powerful message. The one that touched me most was the 5th point. God speaking in our speaking. Truthfully, I have not been allowing Him to speak after I intercede for people. I just run off to take care of other things. Henceforth by grace, I will relax before Him after I have interceded for souls,nations and leaders. God increase in you.

    1. Tom Smith

      God speaking in our speaking is a wonderful point to practice in our prayer. Since the resurrected Christ is living in us (Rom. 8:10), we need to inquire of Him for His burden in our prayer. Then we need to speak out what He is anointing with in our spirit. When we do, we since His presence in a very real way. Thank you for your encouraging comment and the reminder to allow God to speak in our speaking when we pray.

  10. This is a wonferful script. may God help me to understand more

    1. Tom Smith

      Amen. Thanks for your encouraging comment.

  11. Renee Tan

    Thank you Bro Tom.
    I’ve found your article on Effective Intercessory Prayer. It is truly a wonderful article. What you have shared are definitely effective indeed.
    The truth is found in the Word you shared, sound doctrine.
    God bless you and may He continue to anoint you.

    1. Tom Smith

      Glad you enjoyed the post. It is a great blessing to learn of the Lord how to pray in such a way that we cooperate with God in prayer. We do not merely beg God to do what we want. Rather, we enter into intimate fellowship with Him and inquire of Him concerning what is on His heart. Then, taking Him as the source, we echo His will back to Him according to His own word, asking Him to do as He has spoken. This is surely the most effective prayer of intercession! Thank you taking the time to comment.

  12. Margaret

    This was so helpful to me. It has enlightened me on how to pray effectively. God bless you

    1. Tom Smith

      I’m so glad you found this post helpful. We need to learn according to these five principles for effective prayers of intercession. This prayer will not only meet the need of the people God has placed on our heart. Even more it will cause us to cooperate with God in prayer so that His great purpose related to Christ and the church might be fulfilled.

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