When we pray about our joys and concerns for others, it is called Intercessory Prayer…interceding on behalf of others. Those are prayers we offer up in church that relates to the people involved in the life of the church. Those are the prayers that we pray for others throughout the day…like the breath prayer that you offered up for the guy that barely missed getting hit by a car at the intersection, the prayer of healing and life that you prayed for the person in the ambulance that races past you on the way to the hospital, the prayer for peace that you share for the woman at work that just revealed something painful happening in her life…Intercessory Prayer. Intercessory prayer can be alone or in a group of people, out loud or silently. Intercessory prayers help me focus on others and their situations, making what I am facing in my life seem smaller and less important somehow.
How do you know what to say when offering an intercessory prayer? This type of prayer seems immediate, important, quick. When I am alone and offering several quick intercessory prayers, usually a one-sentence prayer works. The sentence addresses the issue and the hope for the situation.
Lord, set ________ free from their prison.
Lord, shine your face upon _________.
Lord, fulfill your will in _________’s life.
Lord, surround __________ with your healing touch.
Lord, lift up _________ from her dark valley.
Lord, thank you for keeping _________ safe.
Lord, spread your protection over _________.
If you struggle to find the right words, you are in good company. The Disciples struggled with how to pray. They even asked Jesus to teach them to pray. Sometimes it can be difficult to admit our struggles with prayer. Jesus didn’t rebuke the disciples for not knowing how to pray, nor did he make them feel small for their request. In fact, it was in response to the disciples’ expression of need that Jesus gave us the prayer that is prayed regularly by more than a third of the world’s population (Luke 11: 1-13). If the Disciples hadn’t admitted their need that day by the Sea of Galilee, we wouldn’t have the Lord’s Prayer today.
For the next month, try praying one-sentence intercessory prayers for those around you and in your life. Start with the examples above, and grow the list into your list of sentence prayers. Grow comfortable using that list of sentence prayers. Pray them out loud, all by yourself. Get used to hearing your voice. Allow your sentence prayers to become two sentences…expand your hope/prayer for the person you are targeting with your prayer.
We are on a prayer journey…walk with me.