So very often we have heard someone offer to pray for us for one reason or another. Many times the offer is genuinely appreciated, especially among believers. I do not know off hand what the Webster dictionary would define prayer as, but, I see it as spiritual communication between man and God.
Many times we might ask for prayer from others because we don’t know what to ask of God ourselves or maybe it is a sense of unworthiness that we should go before the Lord ourselves even though in fact the scriptures say that in Christ, we have that right and it is expected we would come to the Father through the Son. (Hebrews 4:14-16). “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. “
Unfortunately there are those who treat the idea of being prayed for as something suspect or maybe even worse, as a kind of witchcraft. In my own experience, simply praying for my own safety and the safety of others out on the roads has been treated with derision at times. Truly, I think people can feel threatened by it. I had an old boyfriend who sensed when I was praying and hated it.
Truly, we are not to ask of God things that are not a part of who God is. The cursing psalms, as they are called, I think, as someone once pointed out to me, allowed in the canon of scriptures as it shows the depth of pain we go through in our humanness, it’s raw reality. God’s Word shows humans in our full capacity, in our full reality. Pain goes beyond the physical and it’s okay to express our honest feelings to God. In fact, He hears us even if we cannot find the words.
Prayer is a multi-faceted language. “So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance. (Romans 8:26).” Our own tears is as a prayer in times of our distress.
Whether praying for others or for ourselves, sometimes we just do not know what the answers are we are seeking. Or what is best. So indeed, ‘the Holy Spirit pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance.’
Answers to our prayers can come in different ways. I went through a study once called “Experiencing God” and would encourage anyone to go through it if you ever get the opportunity. There is a basic list which shows the different ways that God is working and communicating in our world and in our lives. But for me, in my own experience, as an example…..during a time of personal turmoil, the Lord came to me in a dream more than once. It was a comforting dream. I am presently reading through a couple different books, one of them “Hearing the Voice of God,” by Praying Medic. One of the most exciting things about the prayer life I am realizing is what that means as a relationship to God through Christ. It means getting to hear what the Lord is saying to me on a regular basis. I can say without a doubt that God cares for me and every aspect of my life because I have realized that He hears and has answered my prayers in numerous ways. It is a joy!! According to Praying Medic (Hearing the Voice of God), God is always speaking to us. We must learn to listen. Also, the Lord will often communicate with us through those things we hold most dear. For me that is my art because I see it as a spiritual gift as well as a talent.
In essence, prayer is a two way street. We speak and God does hear us. But we also need to listen. I learned this concept years ago as well through that Experiencing God study I went through.
Basically, there are seven realities of experiencing God…..Those are:
1. God is always at work around you.
2. God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real and personal. (Mark 12:30; John 3:16).
3. God invites you to become involved with Him in His work.
4. God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church (other believers) to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways. (For instance, when you hear God speak to you through a verse of Scripture, its always best to verify what you’ve heard through prayer, other believers and your circumstances. If you hear God saying the same thing through all three sources, you can proceed confidently.)
5. God’s invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action. (God wants a watching world to come to know who He truly is. The assignment He has for you will require your trust in Him.)
6. You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing. This may be in your thinking, circumstances, relationships, commitments, actions and beliefs.
I remember a time when I was in a relationship that was really going nowhere and for good reasons needed to end, but it I was emotionally bound up in it. Try as I might, I could not escape fellow believers or other means by which God was speaking to me and it was something I had to adjust in my life to join God in what He was doing. There are definitely some things I would have done differently if I hadn’t been so blind or obstinate at the time and could have saved myself some pain.
7. You come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you. (I do believe the Christian walk of faith is also a journey in which we are hopefully growing up spiritually.)
As I said before, prayer is also a relational thing as it is between you and God. It is communication between you and the Creator who is very personal indeed.
So to sum it up, in the language of prayer (and I certainly have not covered all the different aspects, save one) it can be said that Intercessory prayer is both when we pray for others and even when we pray for ourselves as the Spirit intercedes for us with the Father.