Even when Jesus was nailed to the cross, suffering from being beaten and people were mocking Him or turned their backs on Him, He took His eyes off of man’s ways and focused squarely on the plans and purposes of God. His thoughts were for others, and He interceded for them. He was never concerned with His reputation as a prayer warrior, but His desire was to see the lives of lost and dying men transformed by the power of God through His intercession.
True intercessors follow Jesus’ example on the cross. They are not out to control the church, but to support it in quiet and unseen prayer. They will not take open credit for church victories, but secretly rejoice and give the Lord the glory. Nor do they gloat when a crisis arises, declaring that they knew all along it would occur. Instead, they are the first to privately hit their knees and intercede until the answer comes and all is restored.
Basic Principles for Intercessory Prayer
Numbers do not represent power - Although there are some examples in the Bible where groups of people prayed for a need, such as the church praying for Peter’s release from prison in Acts 12:1-9, the majority of intercessors stood alone. Abraham interceded for Lot, Moses for Israel, Daniel for Israel’s future, and Jesus for the centurion - by themselves. These are only a few examples of the power of one person praying for others. Numbers generate excitement, but not necessarily faith for answered prayers. At church prayer meetings, I would rather have a few people who are walking in faith, rather than a multitude in unbelief.
Prayer is not more powerful at church - Although Anna lived at the temple, God did not. God is anywhere we are. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Abraham prayed in the plains, Moses prayed in the wilderness, Daniel prayed in his room, and Jesus’ prayed on the cross - and God answered them all. God looks for faith, not our location.
Public prayer is not more powerful than private prayer - Jesus told us in Matthew 6:5, 6 not to be as the publicans, who prayed in the synagogues and on the street corners. They enjoyed being in positions where they could be seen by others. Jesus went on to tell us to enter our private chamber in order to pray to God in secret. Furthermore, private prayer is mentioned many more times in the Word of God than public prayer, so most of our prayer should be private, not public. In fact, public prayer becomes much more powerful and effective when our private prayer life is in order. The best intercessors at prayer meetings are those who pray faithfully at home.
Loud prayer is not more effective than quiet prayer - Although I enjoy hearing people pray aloud at church, this is no indicator of greater spirituality or more powerful prayer. In group prayer, praying aloud helps inspire others to pray and helps keep the fervor alive. But this, again, is no guarantee of answered prayer. The woman with the issue of blood spoke within herself when she went to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment (Matthew 9:21). Yet, she received her answer as surely as many who cried aloud to the Lord. The Bible tells us that God hears the cry of the heart as well as the lips , and volume is not related to the level of anointing.
Public prayer does not eliminate private prayer - If the only time you opened your Bible was at the church, you would certainly be in trouble. If the only time you worshiped the Lord was during the praise and worship service, your life would be difficult. The same is true with prayer. The weekly prayer meeting at the church does not excuse you from praying at home in privacy. It is during times of private prayer at home that the Holy Spirit builds a foundation of strong faith and intimacy with God, from which you can join with others in prayer corporately. In order for your prayers with others to be effective and powerful, you must first have established your individual prayer life privately.