A Process to Empower our Intercessory Prayer
'I used to watch my father-in-law, who was a plasterer by trade, apply mud over new dry wall that we had installed. I marveled at his skill, the fluidness of his motion, the ease with which he worked and the speed with which he completed his work. As he began to teach me the trade he said the secret was how much pressure you put on the edge of the trowel. I was slow and awkward. I was often frustrated because the effort I was making did not show itself in the end result.
I've had the same experience with intercessory prayer. I have come to understand that it too is a skill that develops and as it does our prayers yield better results. What's the secret you ask? There are a few that I'd like to share.
In his book, Pray Lifting up Holy Hands, Cyril Jones introduces us to what he calls Prophetic Intercession. It is a process that involves six steps. The first step is critical and this is what is so often omitted when we do intercessory prayer. We need to begin by giving the Lord our own desires for a particular outcome in the situation we are praying for. We have to abandon our will and submit to him, understanding and believing that whatever he desires in the situation is the best possible outcome for everyone involved. This can be a real challenge when "we think we know what the Lord must want". However, if you want your intercession to yield powerful results, begin by giving him a clean slate to write his desires on. Secret number one is to prayerfully abandon your will to his.
The next step is to spend a few minutes in praise and worship, perhaps using the gift of Tongues if possible and then ask the Lord what he would like you to pray for in this situation. In the quiet that follows, listen with your heart for his direction. The word he stirs may come in a scripture you recall, a vision, a word or a thought that he inspires. Learning to listen to his still small voice is a skill and becomes easier with practice. Stay quiet until you discern what the Lord desires as an outcome. The outcome needs to be specific and observable so that you know when you can stop interceding because your prayer has been answered.
The next step is to ask the Lord how he would like you to pray for this intention. This is the second secret. It would be a mistake to assume he wants you to pray in a way you always pray. Again enter into a few minutes of praise and worship glorifying the Lord perhaps with a song. When your heart is centered on the Lord, listen attentively to how he directs you to pray. It might be through the rosary, a Divine Mercy Chaplet, the creed. It might be to simple sit still in quiet adoration. He may give you a scripture to pray with. I find he often gives me a psalm to pray, the words of which hold the promise of his action.
The fourth step is to actually pray for the intention using the method you just discerned. The secret to this step is to pray with an expectant heart full of thanksgiving. If you think about it, he's told you what to pray for and he's told you how to ask him for it so that he could use your intercession to accomplish it. We need to pray with a confident heart, knowing that our prayer is allowing him to do exactly what he told us he wanted to do. It is so simple and yet so profound.
The fifth step is to ask if there is anything else he would like you to pray for regarding this situation. He may give you another specific need that he wants you to lift up to him. If he does, ask again how he wants you to pray for it and then do it. We repeat this step until the Lord is silent.
The sixth step is to simply take the time to thank him for responding with his mercy and his love to the situation you presented to him.
The final step is the lift up the intercession daily praying the way he directed you to until the work he has begun has been completed. You will know it has been completed because the change he wrought is observable.
In brief, these are the seven steps to Prophetic Intercession
1) Abandon your own desires in the particular situation choosing instead to be completely open to the Lord’s desire whatever it might be.
2) Ask the Lord to clarify for you what his desire is in this situation.
3) Ask the Lord how he would like you to pray that his will be done.
4) Do it. Pray with expectant faith for what the Lord wants using the method of prayer he inspired you to use.
5) Ask if there is another need in this particular situation. If there is, repeat steps 3, 4 and 5.
6) Thank the Lord for what he is doing
7) Daily lift up the intention praying in the manner he requested in step 4 until he fully accomplishes the work he set out to do.
If you can abandon your own desire and intentionally seek his will in the situation and pray as he inspires you to with expectant faith, then through your intercession you will effect the change that brings glory to God and mercy to his people.