How to Intercede in Prayer

“Ain’t nobody praying for me. Who praying for me? Ain’t nobody praying.” These are the words of hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar on his song “FEEL.”

His words echo the sentiment of many, wondering who is praying for them. Who is bringing their needs before the God of the universe who has the power to answer prayer? I take this as a personal challenge—and pivotal responsibility as a Christ follower—to recognize that I must consistently engage in prayer for others. In fact, where would you be today, if you had no one praying for you?

The type of prayer I am referring to is called intercessory prayer. It is when we get God’s heart and perspective on a situation or people group and bring it before Him in the throne room of grace. This type of prayer is not for a select group of “elite Christians,” rather it is a call to all believers to pray because our voice counts. If we are going to excel in this type of prayer, we must first recognize that we have an authority in the place of intercession that comes from Christ Himself.

Romans 8:33-34 reminds us of this truth, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”

We see from this text that Christ Himself intercedes before the Father on our behalf. When we pray, we pray from the basis of His work on the cross. There is no merit within us that provides us access to God, apart from His authority. This should boost our confidence to know that when we come to our God, He hears our concerns.

The question now becomes: How do I intercede in prayer?

We must first be consumed with God’s glory and we must be able to see every individual we encounter through God’s eyes. We must understand that their current state of distance from God isn’t reflective of His salvific will for their lives. If we are to be consumed with His glory, that means we comport ourselves in a way that reflects obedience to His will. We all have shortcomings and broken areas, but the key is to keep our confessions current. A.W. Tozer said it best, “The whole life must pray.”

Caring for God’s People

To be an effective intercessor, not only should we be consumed with God’s glory, but we must also be concerned for God’s people. People are a high commodity to the Lord. The greatest commandment is to love God with the totality of our being, followed by loving people. One of the greatest expressions of your love for people is to lift them up in the place of prayer, and ask God to have His way in their lives. I clearly remember having to intercede on behalf of my close friends, who were trapped in unhealthy religious legalism.

I was troubled by their plight when I realized they were in an unhealthy, legalistic church. They went to a church that taught them they were hell bound if they wore pants, lipstick, dyed their hair, wore jewelry, etc. They were adults who feared their pastor as if he were an unhealthy, controlling parent. I began to vehemently pray that they might experience the freedom of the gospel. I wanted them to see that God’s heart wasn’t that of a dictator wanting to strike them down, but that of a loving Father. God began to give me strategy during my times in prayer. He clearly led me to certain passages that I would go through with them, such as the Prodigal Son and the book of Galatians. Over time, by their own volition, they asked to visit Christ Church (the church in which I pastor) and they saw a distinct difference between their own paradigms and how we engaged God. Over the next few months I walked them through resigning from their church and they have currently found footing in a healthy church where they’re beginning to flourish. Their liberation began in the place of prayer and underscores why it is vital for all of us to be concerned for God’s people.

We’ve learned thus far that we are to be consumed with God’s glory, concerned for God’s people, and lastly, we must call on God’s promises. The reason we call on God’s promises is because we understand that God responds to His word. One of the greatest tools you can bring into the place of intercession is the very word of God, and there is power when we pray His word back to Him. Simply put, God’s word in prayer has the ability to get results. I’ll close with an important story where I learned how to pray God’s promises through a shared personal experience with a buddy of mine.

My friend Joe was an assistant coach on a nationally ranked basketball team. It was his first serious coaching job on a formidable team. He quickly realized that the ethical standards of the head coach (Gary) were compromised. He would come to practice drunk, curse at the team, hold an unrealistic amount of practice hours, and many other damaging decisions that led to a toxic team culture. Joe, being a man of prayer, began to pray for Gary and attempted to hold him accountable, but Gary refused to change. It was highly unlikely that the school would fire a successful, veteran head coach. Joe prayed that he be terminated for the sake of the teens and school culture. Finally, after much warring in prayer, Gary was terminated from his role, which is unheard of for a coach of his stature.

Next season, they needed a head coach, so Joe and I began to pray that God’s favor rest on him for this job opportunity. A few weeks later the athletic director called Joe into the office and offered him the head coaching position. We knew without a shadow of a doubt that God orchestrated this process through prayer.

Joe has since gone on to win coach of the year, within his state and division, as well as the sportsmanship award. This program that was once riddled with unhealthy internal issues, is now known for its integrity.

We started off the article with Kendrick Lamar’s quote, “Ain’t nobody praying for me.” I encourage you to not allow this statement to be true in your sphere of influence. Let us constantly bring others into the place of prayer. I’m looking forward to hearing stories about what God does for others through your prayer times.

By Lionel King, M. Div.

Lionel King serves as Christ Church’s Teaching Pastor and prior to that he was the Teen Director. He previously worked as a teacher in Paterson and has a heart for sharing the truth in a relevant fashion to an ever-changing generation through speaking, lecturing, and spoken-word poetry. In addition to local churches, he has shared in prisons, schools, political functions, NFL/ NCAA chapels, motivational meetings, and national conferences. He also served in a leadership capacity within the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA). He has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Elementary Education, and a Masters of Divinity from Nyack Alliance Theological Seminary. He is married to a wonderful bride, Stephanie King.