Hopefully this summer’s series on Intercessory prayer has supplied new tools for our prayer belt, and sharpened other tools we might have already possessed. While prayer is a fairly automatic response of a child to his or her Father, we know that even with that analogy such conversations and even requests from a child to a parent will change over the years as the child grows—not only maturing in age and ability to speak, but through deepening knowledge of and relationship to the parent. So it should be with our prayer life. Just as we seek to grow as believers in our knowledge and proficiency in scripture, we should be intentional in our desire and pursuit of growth in prayer, and understanding its role in God’s kingdom work. We should even think in terms of being strategic in our intercession, so that it is more effective.
There was a movie that came out a few years ago called War Room, which centered around an older woman who mentored a younger woman in strategic prayer. Just as a successful military campaign is more than fighting random battles here and there, successful praying takes planning, resources, and dedicated effort (even perhaps sacrifice). But how much of our prayer is more like a shotgun than a laser beam, or more reactionary than proactive?
Yes, we often pray on the run, lifting up people who come to mind, or who we see in need, or who contact us for prayer in that moment. We often stop right then and there and pray for them—and we should! This is part of that “praying without ceasing” the Bible talks about. We are to develop a spirit of prayer that goes with us wherever we are. But Strategic Intercession goes beyond this. It often involves having a specific time and place for concentrated prayer effort. It will generally involve lists of specific requests from or for people, and/or lists derived from what the Lord has laid on our heart which He is leading us to pray.
This could look different to each person, depending on how our lives are set up. The ladies in the movie had a little closet they used, and if someone has the space for a prayer closet or prayer room that’s fabulous! In our last house I had what I called a prayer chair and a notebook, and in our current home I have an area I call the Prayer Nook which has a corkboard wall on which to pin requests and lists. But it could be all someone has is a notebook with lists they take with them wherever it is they can pray. If we ask Him, the Lord will lead each of us to ideas for developing what will work best to grow in this Strategic Intercession. He wants to move in this world, and has chosen to move through the prayers of His people, so He is eager to get us onto His agenda and enlist us in His work. Ask, and He will lead!
We need to ask Him to fan the desire in us to work in His kingdom through intercession. Prayer is where the power comes from to do ministry, kingdom work, any work that lasts for eternity. We go only as far in this world as our prayer carries us. Ask Him to grow us in our effectiveness and fervency in intercession.
Ask Him, too, for whom to intercede, and what to pray for them. Praying for those who are near and dear is a no-brainer, but how should we pray for them? What work would God want to do in their lives? What scripture seems to speak to us about them when we are reading the Word? As we continually seek for God’s leading in our intercession, our lists will be organic—living, growing all the time. This is why a notebook comes in handy. Often a verse or leading will come to mind to add to our prayers for someone which we can add to our notebook.
But beyond those people we’d each surely have on our lists, who else would God lead us to? It might be neighbors, workmates, our children’s teachers, law enforcement, or any number of others who intersect with us or our family. Even our “enemy” may be on the list, because God has told to pray for those who despitefully use us and persecute us. We just need to ask God to lead us to those He would impress on us the desire to intercede. These would be His assignments for us.
Others to consider before the Lord as our God-given assignments are our spiritual leaders—pastors, elders, staff members, ABF or Bible study leaders. There are guides out there to give tips on how to pray for them, but it is so essential that they have prayer coverage to be faithful to the Lord, to their spouses, and to their calling. Recent times have shown us the danger of letting our leaders go unguarded through our prayers. Ask the Lord if there is a particular leader He’d like us to especially lift up, and how, specifically, they need coverage.
The enemy would like us to get paralyzed by the potential number of people we could pray for, but listening to God for His assignments keeps it from being overwhelming. It is like being a watchman on a wall of a city. Each watchman is assigned a section of the wall to watch. He’s not responsible for the whole wall, just his part. In fact, if he’s watching someone else’s section, he’s not being faithful to his own job. The Lord will lay people on our hearts that are our responsibility to be faithful to intercede for. If we will attend to our own assignments, we can trust God has appointed someone else to pray for others.
We also should seek the Lord for prayers that are kingdom oriented. These are prayers that go beyond the scope of what we can see and touch in our daily lives. Sometimes they even go beyond our lifespan. Praying for missions, the persecuted church, revival, the advance of the Gospel among the Muslims or unreached people groups, and the Second Coming would be such prayers. Again, ask the Lord to captivate you with some aspect of His kingdom work, and pray prayers that will outlast you but leave a legacy of faith.
Strategic Intercession is merely getting intentional about following God’s lead in prayer and staying faithful and fervent until He answers or takes us home. Let us each plead for Him to make us into such intercessors.
by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries