The answer to “How does intercessory prayer work?” is often given as, “I don’t know, but it works. When I turn on a light switch I don’t understand how electricity works, but the light still comes on.” God does not use force, and I have heard that by intercessory prayer we invite God to make radical changes by invitation; so that it is not force. That is a theory but whether it is true or not, I know intercessory prayer works.
When I was in my early twenties I was a part of a Bible study group. A certain young lady in our group stopped coming to the study and then dropped out of church all together. Our study group started praying for her. I also prayed on my own. Every night I would pray, “Lord please send your Holy Spirit to work on *Tammy’s heart.” I prayed that night after night for I can’t remember how long. Then one night my phone rang. It was Tammy, telling me she was tired of what she referred to as her heathen friends. She said she wanted to come back to church. We decided to meet that evening at a restaurant. At the restaurant Tammy said, “I want to tell you something but you will think it’s crazy.” I assured her I would not think she was crazy. She told me, “I just feel like the Holy Spirit has really been working on my heart!” I was overjoyed! She repeated back to me the very words I had been praying every night. Intercessory prayer works. Now remember that God never uses force. The people we pray for still have free will, but God surely leaves nothing undone that can lead to conversion. Tammy came back to church and our Bible study group.
In Matthew 9, a group of friends boought their friend to Jesus on the mat he was lying on. He needed physical and spiritual healing. It is interesting that Scripture says,
Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Be encouraged, my child! Your sins are forgiven.” Matthew 9:2 NLT
He did not just see the man’s faith who was sick. I’m not even sure he had faith. But when Jesus saw their faith He worked miracles in the man’s life. Again I may not be able to explain how intercessory prayer works, but I can observe it working.
The story of Job tells us how important intercessory prayer is. Let’s take a look,
After the Lord had finished speaking to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “I am angry with you and your two friends, for you have not spoken accurately about me, as my servant Job has. So take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer on your behalf. Job 42:7-8 NLT
God would not accept Eliphaz’s sacrifice unless Job prayed for him. Interesting. The book of Job also gives an example of how God blesses us when we pray for our friends.
When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before! Job 42:10 NLT
When we intercede and pray for others they are blessed and we are blessed too.
*The name “Tammy” is an alias.