“In prayer, real prayer, we begin to think God’s thoughts after him: to desire the things he desires, to love the things he loves, to will the things he wills. Progressively, we are taught to see things from his point of view.” – Richard Foster
In my limited experience, I have learned that listening is the most important part of this kind of prayer. We must not assume we know God’s will on a matter (unless clearly defined in Scripture) because then we can twist our prayer to suit our own motives or misconceptions. Rather, before I even begin to intercede, I ask the Holy Spirit several questions about the person/situation. I ask for certain scriptures to pray, what God thinks of them/the situation, what my position is to be, etc. Then I can intercede with authority because I know I am in alignment with God’s heart.
Beyond receiving direction from the Lord on how to pray, there’s really no formula for intercession. It can be practiced as a two-word prayer, internally as you’re going about monotonous tasks, or very focused in a prayer room. It can last two seconds or several hours. The goal is not the quantity of time or amount of words — as I said before, many words encourage distractions — but instead praying in alignment with God’s will. It is when we pray God’s will that we see our prayers answered. Please know that just because you have direction from the Lord on how to pray, it does not mean He will answer right away. In my post on Luke 11, I went into depth on the importance of persistence in prayer.
Something I learned at IHOP is how important it is to pray positive prayers. All of the apostles’ prayers in the Bible are positive, praying for what would be in the churches instead of focusing on their weaknesses. (While on the subject, apostolic prayers are great tools for intercession. A list of them can be downloaded here.) It is vital to keep our focus on God in our prayers. In Luke 11, the man that needed bread didn’t pray against the lack, he went to his friend with the bread.
A couple weeks ago, a young married couple asked me to pray for them. I didn’t know what they needed prayer for, but I spent about 3 hours asking questions and interceding for them before I went to their house. After I spent only 15 minutes praying for them, I could see fresh hope in their eyes. The Lord had spoken to me and used me to encourage them — and I was just as encouraged to know that I hear from God!
Prayer by Hans Urs von Balthasar
Crafted Prayer by Graham Cooke is a 95 pages of wisdom on focused, effective prayers
This post is a part of a series on different types of prayer. Click here to read the rest of the series.