Intercessory prayer is asking requests of God for others. It is a characteristic of a true Christian. The Bible has many examples of those who prayed for others, most notably Jesus Christ. He even prayed for those who were crucifying Him saying, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34).
In his epistles, the apostle Paul consistently mentions his prayers for his brethren. He wrote to the Philippians, “Always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy” (Philippians 1:4). In another instance he tells the Colossians that he and his companions, “do not cease to pray for you” (Colossians 1:9). As he prayed for others, Paul asked others to pray for him and his fellow workers. He wrote to the Thessalonians, “Brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified” (2 Thessalonians 3:1).
Paul is a great example of a true Christian who kept the needs of his brethren in mind. His chief concern was for their spiritual welfare and standing in the faith. Christians ought to pray likewise for their brethren. There is also continual opportunity to pray for the health needs of others. The apostle James wrote about this when he told Christians to “pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16).
Since Christians are to be “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14), we should also pray in hopes of the world’s salvation. This is how Daniel prayed for his nation, asking God to forgive the sins of his people which had caused their captivity in Babylon. Daniel chapter 9 records his remarkable prayer. Daniel set his “face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications” (Daniel 9:3). He pleaded with God saying, “O LORD, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem” (Daniel 9:16).
Likewise, Moses beseeched God for the nation of Israel saying, “Pardon the iniquity of this people, I pray, according to the greatness of Your mercy” (Numbers 14:19). Also, Paul exhorted that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men” (1 Timothy 2:1).
All these biblical examples of holy people making intercessory prayer, beseeching God for others, demonstrate the role of a mediator. This mirrors Christ’s role as the “Mediator between God and men” (1 Timothy 2:5). Centuries before Christ’s ministry, Isaiah prophesied of Him pouring “out His soul unto death” and being “numbered with the transgressors” for whom he “made intercession” (Isaiah 53:12). Indeed, He died for our sake, and now, the risen Christ “always lives to make intercession” for us (Hebrews 7:25). He has entered “into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24).
We have many biblical examples to follow showing how to make intercessory prayer. As Christians, we are called to “be imitators of God” (Ephesians 5:1). Therefore, as Christ appears for us before God, so ought Christians come before God’s throne in prayer on behalf of others. Making intercessory prayer to God for others is a defining characteristic of a true Christian.