“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 3:14
There are great blessings in intercessory prayer. While we are told to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), we are also informed of the need to “Confess your [our] faults one to another, and pray one for another… [with the promise that] …The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). There is power in intercessory prayer.
It is no wonder then that people we don’t even know will ask us to pray for them on the simple basis that they know we are a Christian. While such a case may teach us the importance of maintaining a good testimony before men, we are at the same time elated that our conversation has brought honor to Jesus Christ.
Similarly, we even find a means to comfort others by telling them that we will pray for them. Such a testimony prayer itself has, that people are encouraged by the fact that someone has offered to pray for them in the future. You might even be a blessing to them by praying with them at that very moment.
But how often do we feel the burden to pray for someone, and they not know about it? We have seen their situation or tribulation, and our heart is so moved thereby that we take the initiative to pray for them without pretense. Such a prayer is borne of compassion and taps into the true power of intercessory prayer – love.
Intercessory prayer is very important. We are exhorted to make intercession “…for all men” (1 Timothy 2:1). If we love our neighbor as we love ourself, does it not make sense that we would pray for them as often, as fervently, as determined, as we do for ourself? Does it not make sense that we should want to pray so?
Paul, in telling the Ephesian Christians of his prayer, has taken this aspect of intercession one step further. Has anyone ever surprised you by telling you that they have been praying for you? That they have, unknown to you, been to the Throne of Grace on you behalf? Such evidence of love moves us to happiness. It truly is a blessing to know that someone has our personal well-being in mind.
But Paul does not stop there. He goes on in the following verses to tell the Ephesians what he’s been praying. Rather than material good or earthly happiness, Paul goes to the very root of spirituality and prays that they be strengthened in the inner man (verse 16), that they be rooted and grounded in love (verse 17), and that, knowing the love of Christ, they “… might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Ephesians 3:19)
Knowing that someone cares enough about you to intercede at your request is great. Knowing that they care enough to intercede of their own initiative is a blessing. The next time you offer intercessory prayer for someone without being asked, tell that person afterward. Let them know that you care for them and their struggles, trials, and spiritual growing pains. You will see from their expression that you have just been a blessing to them. By this, your prayer for their encouragement will be an encouragement itself.