—How it works—What it can do
When Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them to pray, He taught them the prayer that we now know as the Lord’s Prayer. Just 66 words long, it is possibly the most comprehensive and powerful general prayer ever. There is a lot more to learn, however, about this marvelous and mysterious thing called prayer, and Jesus is more than happy to answer our questions. Here are His answers, received in prophecy, to some common questions about how prayer works—particularly intercessory prayer, which is when we pray for others.
Q: I’ve heard it said that prayer isn’t the least we can do for someone else, but the most. If that’s true, how so?
Jesus: Prayer may seem a small thing. Usually it doesn’t take much of your time and involves little physical effort, but if you knew the dynamics of prayer and the effect your prayers have in the spiritual realm, you would understand that prayer is indeed the greatest help you can be to another. People equate action with doing something. But they must realize that praying is action—the most efficient and powerful kind of action.
When you pray you’re operating in the realm of faith. You’re operating in the spirit world where miracles are born, where the impossible takes place. Sometimes you can be My hands or feet or mouth to help relieve the problem with physical action, but the greatest work takes place in the spirit, and that’s where your prayers come in.
Your prayers move My hand to work on behalf of the one for whom you are praying. I have promised, “Ask and you will receive” (Matthew 7:7). When you ask in faith, I not only bring about the desired results, but I do far greater things than you could possibly do yourself. It doesn’t make sense logically, and it goes against human nature to not try to fix problems yourself when they arise, but the more you pray, the more you will see Me remove obstacles and change hearts and situations, and the more your faith in Me and the power of prayer will grow.
I’m waiting to move mountains on your behalf, so don’t hold back. The needs that you and others have are great, but they are not too great for Me. Let loose your prayers, and stand back and watch Me work. Your prayers and My power are an unbeatable force!
Q: Why do some prayers seem to go unanswered, particularly prayers for some of the most desperate situations?
Jesus: There are a number of reasons why some prayers aren’t answered immediately. Sometimes the conditions aren’t yet right to bring about the best result. Sometimes the people involved need to learn lessons or grow in areas they wouldn’t be able to if the problem were solved too quickly or easily. Sometimes it’s due to a lack of faith on the part of those praying. But often it’s due to a lack of desperation.
Prayers are answered in direct proportion to the intensity with which they are prayed. If you were trying to move a heavy object, you would summon all your physical strength. The same is true of prayer. The bigger and more “impossible” the problem, the more focused and fervent you must be in mind and spirit when you pray. Desperate situations call for desperate prayer.
Q: If You’ve promised to answer every prayer as You know best, does it really matter how many people pray for a certain situation? Isn’t one person’s prayer enough?
Jesus: Using the same analogy of trying to move a very heavy object, when the object is too heavy for you alone, even when you use all your strength, you call on others to help you. As you unite and push together in prayer, as you all direct your spiritual energy in the same direction, your prayers become that much more effective.
Q: Are both personal prayers—prayers by the person in need—and prayers from others needed?
Jesus: Both personal prayers and prayers from others are important. When, for whatever reason, you are the only one aware of a particular situation and you’re not able to call on others for support in prayer, your prayers alone can turn the tide and help win the victory. There are times, however, when you need others to pray with you. It’s reassuring to know you’re not fighting the battle alone, but it’s important that you pray as well, since personal prayer also wields great power.
Sometimes those who need My help aren’t even aware that they do. They either can’t see the problem, don’t realize how serious it is, or don’t know how real I am or how ready, willing, and able I am to help, so they don’t turn to Me like they should. In these situations, others’ prayers can set things in motion in the spirit and get things moving in the right direction. Often the person’s own faith will eventually come into play, but in the meantime, the faith and prayers of others are vital.
Other times those who need prayer may be too weak physically or too drained spiritually to carry the burden of prayer alone. Their spirit might be willing, but their flesh is weak. If they are very sick or in great pain, for example, they may need others to help them pray. Or if they are strong in body but their faith is at a low ebb, they also need others to pray with them.
The one involved in the battle is like a soldier in the midst of the fray. He is the one in direct combat, but his success also depends on the support of his fellow soldiers behind the line of battle. So it is with prayer. Other people praying are like reinforcements. The person in need can pray and I will answer that prayer, but when others pray too, it’s doubly effective.
Q: How can I become more effective in my prayers for others?
Jesus: When a need is near and dear to your heart, when you are moved inside for a loved one in need or desperately desire for Me to intervene in a certain situation, then you pray fervently and frequently. And when you are moved, it moves Me to work on the behalf of the one for whom you are praying, or to rectify the situation. Conversely, when you are not personally touched by a certain need, it is easier for you to brush it aside and either fail to pray or pray halfheartedly.
Empathy makes all the difference, so ask Me to give you the gift of empathy. Then you will pray as though you were the one suffering sickness, financial need, or whatever the problem may be. You will pray as though it were your child, your loved one, or your family that needs My miraculous intervention, and I will hear and answer.
Q: Why is it that it often seems easier to have faith when praying for others than when praying for myself?
Jesus: Many people are limited in their faith when praying for something themselves. They may have great faith when praying for others, but when they have a need, they either feel unworthy of My help or are afraid of appearing selfish, so they either don’t ask or pray weak prayers. When someone else prays for them or their situation, it’s often more powerful because the other person is able to pray with full faith.
Intercessory prayer works like a bank account that more than one person can deposit into and withdraw from. When you pray for someone else, it’s like depositing into the account, which the person for whom you are praying can then draw from. As long as everyone is faithful with his or her deposits, there will be plenty in the account to meet any need that arises.
Q: Do our prayers for others have an effect even when we don’t know enough about the situation to pray for You to take a specific course of action?
Jesus: When you express love and concern by praying for others, I can even answer requests that you haven’t yet been able to put into words. Even when you may not know what to pray for specifically, I do. As the apostle Paul explained, I live to make intercession for you according to the will of God (Hebrews 7:25; Romans 8:27). As you beseech Me for others, as you express love and concern, as you acknowledge your dependence on Me and commit people and situations to Me, I will bring about the best possible outcome, even if you can’t see at the time what that may be.
Not knowing all the facts can sometimes work to your advantage, because the “facts” often undermine faith. The simple fact that overrides all others is that nothing is impossible for Me. Through your blind faith in standing on that promise and asking Me to intervene and do a specific thing, I am often able to move more speedily and do mightier miracles than if all I had to work with were the prayers of the one immersed in the problem, whose faith is hindered by the “facts.”
Q: Intercessory prayer is mainly for the benefit of others, of course, but does it also benefit the one praying?
Jesus: Praying for other people is putting your love into action in the spirit. You’re not only thinking of them and wanting to help, but you’re doing something about it. Your love for them obliges you to call on Me for help, and I step in and do what you need done but can’t do yourself.
One of the most beautiful results of praying for other people is that it helps you become less self-centered. It helps you form the good habit of thinking more of others than yourself. It gives you more love for those for whom you’re praying and others in general, because it focuses on their needs.
Intercessory prayer is largely a sacrificial service. It is taking your time and giving it to others by petitioning Me for their needs. It’s unselfish giving, but there are also dividends for the one praying. “Give, and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:38). As you pour out your heart to Me in prayer for others and their situations, I will in turn care for you. That’s My rule in giving—the more you give, the more you will receive.
It will also strengthen your faith in My ability to answer prayer and help you learn to depend more on Me. Your heart is touched, you want to help others in need, you ask Me to come to their rescue, and when I do, it encourages your spirit and increases your faith.
You will also become more Christlike—more filled with My love and more in tune with Me—so people will see more of Me in you.
Praying for others will have a positive effect on you in every way. Your blessings will be numerous!
When you operate in the realm of faith, you’re operating in the spirit world where the impossible takes place.
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