Today, our beatitude for prayer is . . . “Blessed are those who pray on behalf of others.

Praying on behalf of someone is referred to as intercessory prayer. Deep within us there is godly passion for the welfare others. We pray for God to step in and act for the good of people we care about and whose special needs we may know intimately. But intercessors may also pray to the Lord on behalf of people they have never met but are genuinely concerned about their needs. Praying for others requires courage in the face of daunting fears. It also requires trust and a willingness to accept the manner and timing of God’s responses to our intercessory petitions.

The Bible records some notable intercessors. Abraham prayed on behalf of an entire city that God had condemned for the corrupt and evil life styles of the citizens. Moses prayed on behalf of liberated and thankless Hebrew people who seriously contemplated returning to slavery because they were thirsty and bored with a daily diet of food. Job prayed for so-called friends who publicly judged and blamed him for his own troubles! But Job believed he had a heavenly intercessor and he replied to his accusers with these words, “. . I have one who speaks for me in heaven; the one who is on my side is high above. The one who speaks for me is my friend. . . . .He begs God on behalf of a human as a person begs for his friend” [Job, chapter 16, verses 19-21].

Perhaps there is no greater challenge to praying for others than when we pray for people who disregard our interest, or more importantly, for people who reject God’s interest! Praying for others is challenging, but it is also the only attitude for people who have the love of Christ in them. Jesus is the ultimate example of an unselfish intercessor. He was, and is, passionate about lifting a major burden from our fallen lives. He is concerned about the sin in our lives and the judgment awaiting us. We are bewildered that he not only prayed for our forgiveness, but that he also died for our sins.

The apostle Paul wrote a letter to believers in an ancient city called Philippi and instructed them to develop an intercessory attitude. Paul wrote: “When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide, instead, be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves. Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others” [Philippians, chapter 2, verses 3-4].

Intercessory prayer is more often practiced by people who live an intercessory life style. To early-day Christians the apostle Paul wrote: “We who are strong in faith should help the weak with their weaknesses, and not to please only ourselves. Let each of us please our neighbors for their good, to help them be stronger in faith” [Romans, chapter 15, verses 1-2]. In both letters, the apostle punctuates his exhortation by pointing to Jesus. To the people in Philippi Paul said, “In your lives you must think and act like Christ” [Philippians, chapter 2, verse 5]. To people in Rome, Paul wrote: “Even Christ did not live to please himself . . .” [Romans, chapter 15, verse 3].

Praying for and caring about others is the response of an intercessory heart and unselfish life style. It is also a daring way to live. Some people will bless you for it. Some people will thank you to let them alone! Whatever you might experience, interceding and caring about others is what the Lord experiences in his efforts to intercede for you and for all people. Your prayer life will develop a quality of blessing and reassurance when you stand in the gap for another person.

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