Intercessory prayer is when we pray on behalf of another person or situation. Examples might be asking God to heal a friend who is sick, or asking God to prevent a hurricane from coming to shore and causing the loss of life and property. Intercessory prayer is not limited to asking God to fix a problem or keep bad things from happening. We can offer an intercessory prayer of thanks as well. For example, if a friend tells us they recently got a promotion at work, we can stop and give God thanks for the blessing our friend received.
The Bible is full of examples of intercessory prayer. In Numbers 14:11-25, we read how Moses prayed an intercessory prayer for the nation of Israel when the LORD was ready to destroy them. After hearing Moses’ prayer, He relented from destroying them, and continued to work with them.
Perhaps some of the most famous examples of interceding on someone’s behalf are the many accounts of Jesus healing others. While not every occasion is accompanied by prayer, it certainly points to Jesus’ acting on someone else’s behalf (Matthew 8:1-17; Mark 3:1-5; Luke 8:26-39; John 4:46-53).
We do read of a very specific intercessory prayer by Jesus, one that He in fact prayed on behalf of Christians. In John 17, just before His betrayal, crucifixion and death, we see Jesus interceding to the Father on behalf of His disciples. “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are” (John 17:9-11).
As Christ’s disciples, you and I received a very special blessing from God the Father as a result of Jesus' intercessory prayer: We may know God and Christ, and be one with them, just as they are with one another. As disciples, we can intercede for others through the power of prayer!