Intercessory prayer is prayer on behalf of others. When we intercede, we are acting as a mediator, or an ambassador, on behalf of someone else. Jesus is the ultimate intercessor and it is only through Him that we have access to God through prayer (1 Timothy 2:5; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 4:14–16; 10:19–23). Even so, similar to the way God invites us to pray to Him on our own behalf, He calls us to intercede for others in prayer.
We see intercessory prayer nearly from the beginning of time. Abraham, Moses, David, and others went to God to ask Him to bless others. One of the most dramatic accounts of intercessory prayer is found in Genesis 18 as Abraham repeatedly asked God to spare the righteous people in Sodom and Gomorrah. He asks God to forestall destruction for fifty righteous people, then increasingly less down to ten. God did spare Lot and his family (Genesis 19:1–29).
Nearly all people of God in the Bible can be found praying for others. Daniel prayed in response to God's Word (Daniel 9:2). He prayed with gusto (Daniel 9:3), humility and unselfishness (Daniel 9:3–4), confession (v. 5–15), dependence upon God and acknowledgment of who God is (Daniel 9:4, 7, 9, 15), and with a desire for God to be glorified (Daniel 9:16–19).
We can pray for others because we are granted access to God through Jesus and His sacrifice. Jesus has interceded on our behalf. Hebrews 10:19–23 says, "Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful." God makes it possible for us to approach Him and invites us to come to Him. This is why we can pray with confidence, both for ourselves and for others.
The Bible specifically mentions some groups of people for whom we are to pray: those in authority (1 Timothy 2:2), our spiritual leaders (Philippians 1:19), Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6), friends (Job 42:8), fellow citizens (Romans 10:1), the sick (James 5:14), our enemies (Jeremiah 29:7), those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44), people who abandon us (2 Timothy 4:16), and, virtually, everyone (1 Timothy 2:1).
God Himself sets the example. We are told that Jesus intercedes for us (Hebrews 7:25) and the Holy Spirit prays for us (Romans 8:26).
Every Christian has the ability to intercede for others. The entire church, not specifically gifted people, prayed for Peter (Acts 12:5). Paul tells the Ephesian church to pray for others (Ephesians 6:16–18) and asks the Christians in Ephesus, Rome, and Colossae to pray for him (Ephesians 6:19; Romans 15:30; Colossians 4:2–3).
All Christians have access to God and should pray for others.
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