Through both the sacred scriptures and the works of biblical scholars, it has been noted that prayer is an expressed form of communication. Although prayer is primarily attributed to communication with God and Christ Jesus, it is also attributed to the continual work and partnership with the Holy Spirit. In essence, communication in the form of prayer is not limited to the bounds of emotions or cognition, but it entails the engagement of the spirit of a person's soul; especially in the exercise of intercessory prayer.
Different Manners of Intercessory Prayer
There are different manners by which a believer (prayer intercessor) my minister to people through intercessory prayer. One such manner is a prayer of sympathy. This manner of prayer entails that the prayer intercessor is in the same state of emotional being as the person for whom they are praying. This is something that may occur simultaneously; especially if the prayer intercessor is praying for that person face-to-face, over the telephone, or another form with live feedback. Although it may seem as being effective at the time, this manner of prayer may not be. The limitation is that the minister may get cut-up in the emotions being expressed by the person for whom they are praying; rendering them to be of little help to that person. The prayer of sympathy lacks the elements of cognition and the Spirit.
Another manner of prayer is a prayer of empathy. This manner of prayer entails that the prayer intercessor cognitively (in thinking or thought) understands the experience of the person for whom they are praying, yet do not engage in the emotions thereof. As with the prayer of sympathy, it is likely to occur when the prayer intercessor is communicating with a person with live feedback. Although this may seem to be an objective manner of prayer, its limitation is that it may impress upon a person being prayed for a sense of distance in relating to their experiential emotions and thoughts; even though this may not be intentional. In addition, there may also be a limitation by which the prayer intercessor may find themselves solely ministering to the mental state of a person and not the core of their heart, mind, and spirit.
A final manner of prayer is a prayer of the Spirit. This manner of prayer entails a discipline in which a balance of sympathy, empathy, and the spirit is expressed by the prayer intercessor through means of the Holy Spirit. Different spiritual gifts may be exercised while communicating with the person for whom they are praying. In addition, the Word of God will play a great role in bringing guidance to that person as well. Yet nothing may occur without the guidance or leading of the Holy Spirit. This manner of prayer is by far the most effective that may be exercised by a prayer intercessor. Nonetheless, the most common limitation to this manner of prayer is the prayer intercessor. In essence, if the prayer intercessor is in right standing with God, they will be called out to do the work in partnership with the Holy Spirit. However, if the prayer intercessor is not actively striving to be in right standing with God, and continues to engage in intercessory prayer for others out of their own efforts, they will find themselves in a state of disappointment with themselves as well as others; they will also grieve the Holy Spirit.
Challenges in Intercessory Prayer
Praying with regard to one's self is a challenging exercise of its own. It is an exercise that brings one's self to a state of humility, receiving a spiritual conviction, responding with a plea for forgiveness, and God's response of a continual transformation of the heart, mind, and spirit. Praying for one's self is an exercise that can not be accomplished by one's own will, it requires the power of the Holy Spirit. As Jesus once stated, "what is impossible with man, is possible with God", so we are called to rely on His strength to accomplish all things, especially prayer.
Once praying for one's self has accomplished its work, it is time to begin to engage in intercessory prayer. Now there are some people who think and believe that a believer must have a "certain level" of perfection in sanctification before beginning to engage in intercessory prayer. However, their expressed "certain level" of perfection in sanctification is non-objective, with a gray area, and lacks no objection from other different views. Hence, it is not humanly possible to obtain this "certain level" of perfection in sanctification that is defined by mankind. Nonetheless, if the things mentioned in praying for one's self have been addressed by a believer and accomplished its work, then God will call them to engage in intercessory prayer.
A classic example of bringing into question the "certain level" of perfection in sanctification is the case of the Apostle Paul. He was notorious for persecuting Christians before his own personal encounter with Christ Jesus. Yet, after that special encounter with Him, Christ Jesus began a work to transform Saul of Tarsus into the Apostle Paul. Many believers expressed doubt over this transformed heart, mind, and spirit. Yet God proved Him to be genuine and used him greatly in the establishment of the early churches of that time.
However, Paul was never at a so-called "certain level" of perfection in sanctification. In many of his letters to the members of the churches he ministered to, he often spoke about striving unto perfection in sanctification through the strength of Christ Jesus by means of the Holy Spirit. He himself wrote about the struggle to do something good, and yet ending up doing something bad. It was a challenge that the early church also struggled to overcome, even as the Body of Christ Jesus continues to do so to this very day. It is an ongoing struggle that exists as long as believers continue to be in their mortal body that is inclined towards sin. So the believer is left in their own mortal weakness, yet clinging to the spiritual strength of Christ Jesus through the resolution of forgiveness. Some people may see it as a sign of weakness, but most believers will see it as an opportunity to recognize their own weakness so that Christ Jesus may arise in His strength by means of the Holy Spirit working through their lives. Hence, though the believer is progressively being perfected toward complete sanctification on the Blessed Day of the Lord. On that day, the believer’s body will be transformed into a heavenly form that can enter into Heaven and be at one in the presence of the Lord.
True intercessory prayer is not merely an exercise of faith. Intercessory prayer is a believer's response to God's call to arise and intercede for others; believers or non-believers, He will not discriminate, and neither should we. Intercessory prayer is accomplished through a believer's submission to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, with no regard to the place nor time He may call on them. In addition, intercessory prayer requires that the believer be willing to step aside from their rationality and allow themselves to be both guided and led by the Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit holds the capacity to enter and examine the hearts and minds of people, so it is important for a believer to work in partnership with Him.
Pray for what?
In the exercise of intercessory prayer, a believer may not always know the fullness of what or for whom they will engage in prayer. There are times when there may be some clues and others when there are none. There are times when there may be a sense of sweetness and others when there is a stench of wretchedness. There are times when there are calmness and joy, and others when there are anxiety and distress. Whatever the case may be, it is important to not focus on neither the time and its "feeling". Instead, you should focus on engaging in intercessory prayer in accordance to the guidance and leading of the Holy Spirit. As it is written in the sacred scriptures, "it is not by might, nor power, but by the Holy Spirit, says the Lord." It is by means of the Holy Spirit that the prayer of a prayer intercessor will yield the greatest effect within God's will.
Waiting on a Reply.
Intercessory prayer sometimes carries with itself an ambiguity to a reply. The believer who is engaged in intercessory prayer may sometimes know the resolution of the engagement, but that is not always the case. Sometimes God may choose to replay with a portion of why He called on the believer to intercede in praying for others. Other times God may choose to reply with a time-lapse in which He later reveals what happened at the very hour intercessory prayer was engaged and how the matter was resolved. There are also times when God may call a believer to engage in intercessory prayer, and they go through a journey of different terrain during the session of prayer. Sometimes, God may reveal things during the session of prayer, and sometimes thereafter. For instance, God may choose to speak to the mind or in the audible voice of the prayer intercessor. God may speak specific things about the matter or present scriptures or scripture citations to affirm the genuineness of His reply in revelation. Other times God may choose to reveal things through dreams and visions, and then presenting their interpretation at a later time. These are only a few manners in which God may choose to present a reply. There may be others and a prayer intercessor should never limit God as to the manner He chooses to reply to intercessory prayer by means of the Holy Spirit.
Opposition and Resistance.
Intercessory prayer is not always a smooth acceleration into a fast lane. There are times when a believer engages in intercessory prayer, and they are confronted with opposition and resistance. Sometimes this opposition and resistance may lead them into spiritual warfare. Spiritual warfare engagement through intercessory prayer is the toughest challenge a believer will ever encounter in the exercise of prayer; whether for themselves or others. As it is written in the scriptures, "we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers that are not of this world". The enemy is not the people nor the circumstances by which the resistance and opposition are manifesting themselves; it is the "principalities and powers that are not of this world". For the most part, they typically begin to manifest themselves progressively and systematically; most people don't even notice them in their early forms. It is only after they have taken some ground and solid stance that people witness the presence of “principalities and powers that are not of this world”. How then can "principalities and powers that are not of this world" be brought down from their power and are defeated? There is only one way, through the strength of the Lord Christ Jesus, "and in the power of His might". For God "did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind (without doubt and uncertainty)". It is important to only engage in spiritual warfare with the full backing and guidance of the Holy Spirit; only then will the prayer intercessor prevail in prayer.
In closing, even though there may be many manners of prayer, it is a prayer of the Spirit that is the most effective. However, this manner of prayer may only be exercised by a person who strives to maintain a healthy personal relationship with God. It is important to take that into consideration, especially because people who are participating in the prayer, or those that surround them, may be able to tell if the prayer intercessor holds the anointing of the Holy Spirit to engage in such work. A prayer intercessor does not want to discredit God nor His authority.
Let Us Pray. Dear God, I know in my heart and mind that I will never be righteous enough to be your ambassador in life or prayer. So I ask you to please help me to remain in good standing with you so that I may be readily available to do the work of a prayer intercessor when you call me to do so. Please help me to minister to others not out of my own strength or rationale, but through means of the Holy Spirit and with His spiritual anointing. In such a manner, I know the people I pray for will receive what they need in accordance to Your will for their lives. Amen.
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R. A. Gómez