Earlier, in life, I had the idea that prayer was meant to change God. Not that it was explained to me that way, but because I could tell by the many prayers that I heard. I discovered from Scripture that God is GOD and, of course, needs no advice from any of His own creatures. What do we imagine ourselves to be! He, after all, knows better than anyone else, what we need and what is best for us.
Also, I discovered that prayer does not change God, but the one who prays. By entrusting all into God’s hands, I receive a peace and joy that surpasses all understanding (Phil.4:6.7). This peace, of course, can only be my part, when I actually realize that God’s way is always the best and that He never makes a mistake. The idea that we must bring God to other thoughts is, actually, the greatest obstacle to true prayer.
But these days, something else became clear to me. Of the usefulness of personal prayer and thanksgiving, I was well aware, but of the benefits of intercession, i.e., prayer for others, that, frankly speaking, had eluded me. If prayer changes the one who prays, what then would be the effect of praying for others? Yet, it is obvious that a man like Paul did not only pray for others, but also, expressly, calls others to make intercession for him. Evidently, he was convinced of the effect of intercessory prayer.
30 Now I am entreating you, brethren, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the spirit, to struggle together with me in prayers to God for me, 31 that I should be rescued from the stubborn in Judea, and my dispensation for Jerusalem may be becoming well received by the saints …
“Struggling in prayers” is not fighting with God, but “through the love of the spirit” is sharing in the struggles of others! By praying for another, I become, “in spirit”, united with him or her. This not only affects me, but also the other person. My intercession supports him or her, regardless of whether the other person has been informed or is even aware of it. It is a spiritual connection, which in one way or another, has an effect. Through prayer, I share in the lot of the other and I offer my support. Only this explains the call for intercessory prayer, but also the many examples of this, as given in Scripture. Below, a few examples from Paul’s letters:
22 Now, at the same time, make ready also a lodging for me, for I am expecting that, through your prayers, I shall be graciously granted to you.
12 Greeting you is Epaphras, who is one of you, a slave of Christ Jesus, always struggling for you in prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.
18 During every prayer and petition be praying on every occasion (in spirit being vigilant also for it with all perseverance and petition concerning all the saints, 19 and for me), that to me expression may be granted, in the opening of my mouth with boldness, to make known the secret of the evangel…
The contents of the various prayers in the above verses is not now the subject. What I do want to make clear is that intercession has an effect and makes a difference. Prayer not only serves as a connection between the one who prays and God, but also makes connection between the intercessor and those for whom he or she prays. Through prayer we experience “communion of spirit” (Phil.2:1).