Paul writes: ‘pray for all people… intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Saviour, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.’ (1 Timothy 2:1–4 NLT)
Intercession means ‘to mediate between parties with a view to reconciling those who differ or contend.’ It happens every day in the court system when lawyers intercede on behalf of their clients. It also happened in Scripture. When Israel made a golden calf and worshipped it, Moses interceded with God on their behalf, saying: ‘These people have committed a great sin… Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.’ (Exodus 32:31–32 NKJV)
God then told Moses, ‘Go, lead the people to the place of which I have spoken to you. Behold, My Angel shall go before you.’ (Exodus 32:34 NKJV)
Later when Israel turned again to worship false gods, Samuel said, ‘Gather all Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray [intercede] to the Lord for you.’ (1 Samuel 7:5 NKJV) As a result, the Lord sent a loud thunder upon the Philistines that day, and so confused them that they were defeated before Israel (see 1 Samuel 7:10).
Interceding can be a lonely business, and it’s also hard work: ‘Always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.’ (Colossians 4:12 NKJV) But when nothing else works, intercessory prayer does!