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There is a wide variety of how you can pray for others. Sometimes it is making up your prayer lists and petitioning God on behalf of the needs of others. Sometimes God will put an intercessory anointing on you where you will literally stand in the gap on behalf of a person or group of people to plead their cause before God, or He may have you do indentificational repentance (repenting on behalf of sins of a group that you did not personally participate in). Sometimes God will lead you to pray prophetically, where He will either give you supernatural revelation on a situation or where He will put His words into your mouth as you pray. Or God may lead you into spiritual warfare prayer, where you take authority over territorial spirits and over the strategies of the enemy.
Or God may lead you to do ministry prayer with another person, such as praying for a physical healing or doing a deliverance or even praying prophetically over them (such as repeating to God, in their presence, the secret prayers they have been praying in their prayer closet).
There's a very strong relationship between intercessory prayer and ministry prayer. I believe that the same type of anointing allows a person to pray/intercede in their prayer closet or on a ministry line. Many intercessors will favor the prayer closet ministry their entire lives, where they are not face to face with those they are praying for. Some will favor ministry prayer (e.g., praying with the people they are interceding for in a ministry-type of setting). Some intercessors will cross back and forth frequently between the two styles of prayer.
When I first starting moving in my "intercessory anointing," it was my own private prayer closet prayer. I had no idea that this was a special anointing. I thought that all believers routinely spent three to four hours a day in prayer and intercession. I had no idea this was unusual. I also thought it was normal to see God answer many of your prayers, and usually in a short period of time. God's presence was so wonderful in my prayer closet prayer times and He met me wonderfully. I did not feel much need to get together with other intercessors because God showed up and met me in my prayer closet intercession times. I did like to touch bases with those I had been praying for to get feedback from them, so I could measure the effectiveness of my prayers and keep track of how God was answering them.
Later on, God began quickening those verses to me about "agreeing together" or "when two or three come together in My name," etc. He began to move me out of my prayer closet and into corporate intercession. About the same time, He also began sending me "on site" to pray. For instance, if I was interceding for an elementary school in my neighborhood, God would send me to physically walk the campus (but not during school hours) and pray "on site." There was a season where God would ask me to daily drive to a church that He had me interceding for. I would sit in their parking lot and pray for them for maybe 15 minutes to half an hour a day. That is another example of "on-site" prayer. God even sent me on prayer trips where I would travel to a foreign country for the purpose of praying for the people. There would often be a lot of divine appointments and special events that God would orchestrate. I not only prayed, but I also got to meet other believers, interact with people and pray with or for them.
In 1994, God began to change my focus from intercession to personal ministry. Something called the "renewal" hit a church in my area. These were meetings where God's presence showed up in tangible ways and where the focus was on each person there connecting with God in a personal way. For the first month, the meetings went on six nights a week. I spent the first three or four nights just soaking in God's presence and allowing God to touch my heart deeply. The meetings were loosely structured and people there were permitted to pray for each other. I began attending these meetings nightly.
God began to put it on my heart to pray for others there. At first I would just intercede silently, but after a while, one of the pastors invited me to accompany him and his wife as they prayed for people. They taught me how to do ministry prayer. After awhile, I began praying for people on my own, and I was always thrilled and delighted how God would show up and meet the people I prayed for. At the same time, there was a bit of conflict going on in me. My life was very tied up in these meetings. I'd get up early and go to work, and often go straight from work to the meetings. I'd spend the first part of the meeting connecting with God and allowing Him to meet and touch me personally. Then I'd spend the next half of the meeting praying for others and watching God meet them in wonderful and tangible ways.
It was often after midnight before the meeting would end and then I had a half-hour drive home. At first I tried to get the intercessory prayer in with all this activity. But I was too tired when got home and I'd fall asleep while trying to maintain my regular intercessory prayer life. I began to feel like I wasn't praying any more, and I started to feel guilty about it. But it just wasn't logistically possible to work full time, go to these nightly meetings and get in three to four hours a day of prayer closet time.
Then God explained that my ministry time was another form of intercessory prayer. He said that when I walked down the prayer line and laid hands on people and prayed for them, I was still operating in my intercessory anointing. The only difference was that my prayer was occurring in the presence of those I was interceding for instead of in my prayer closet. That was a major revelation to me. Praying for people in your prayer closet and praying for them in a ministry situation all come from the same anointing to pray. I used to think of them as two things, but God didn't think of them separately.
There are still times when God calls me to intercede for others from my prayer closet. But most of the time, my "intercessory prayer" is done in the form of ministry prayer. This includes one-on-one prayer ministry, being part of a small-group ministry team for inner healing or deliverance sessions, praying as a member of a ministry team during the ministry time, or sometimes leading ministry times/sessions in services or conferences.
It was very alarming to me when God began to move me from one style of intercessory prayer (e.g., praying in my prayer closet) to another style (e.g., ministry prayer). I wanted to spend some time developing this, because some of you reading this may be going through a similar transition and accompanying discomfort. And God may be taking some of you the other direction, where you used to spend a lot of time ministering to others and God is now drawing you into your prayer closets.
Please be aware that both types of prayer arise from the same anointing. The important thing is to find out what God's agenda is and do that. If He is calling you to the prayer closet, be comfortable there and enjoy those prolonged times with Him and you together. If He is calling you to corporate intercession, enjoy the unity and the anointing that comes over you as a group. If He is calling you to ministry prayer, then delight in watching Him show up to meet and touch the ones He sends you to minister to. Know that you are not "obligated" to only one style of intercessory prayer. Know that sometimes God likes to move you from one style to another.
The key to success is in seeing what the Father is doing, and to do it with Him. Be flexible and look to God for direction in how He wants you to pray for others. I promise you that you will be incredibly blessed as you line up with what the Father is doing. You will see His power and His anointing flow through you and you will find your prayers are highly effective.
We will look at some of the various styles of praying for others in our next lesson.