Prayer to the Lord is not only for us to let our requests be made known to the Lord, but prayer has a greater purpose. We often stop short and only pray our requests, but the Lord longs to take us to a deeper place in prayer that is immeasurably more effective.
Breaking down the meaning of the words used for prayer shows us how to pray effectively.
The first word we will look at is supplications. It can also be translated into entreaties or petitions.
Entreated; Entreating; Entreat
1. to plead with especially in order to persuade: ask urgentlyMerriam-Webster
entreated his boss for another chance
2. archaic: to deal with: TREAT
1. intransitive verb: to make an earnest request: PLEAD
petitioned; petitionin; petitions
1. transitive: to make a request to (someone)
especially: to make a formal written request to (an authority)
2. intransitive: to make a request
As it says, we are bringing our petitions to the Lord, our needs, our wants. This is the place many of us start in prayer, and it is an excellent place to start. However, if we allow the Lord to do a more perfect work than our petitions, needs, and wants, we will walk away with peace, understanding of his will, and greater intimacy with the Lord.
Prayer is not just a request; as we go into that place of prayer with the Lord and are persistent, an exchange of wills happens. Jesus was a perfect example of this. He was at the Garden of Gethsemane, making his request known to the Lord. In the end, he exchanged his will with the Father’s will. Prayer is that place of strength to exchange your will with the Lord, even when excruciating.
“He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”Luke 22:41-44
Sometimes, we may not know what the Father’s will is, but persistence in prayer will allow us to open up our hearts to receive his will on the matter. I experienced this type of exchange in prayer right before the Holy Spirit led me to this study on prayer. I had been struggling to forgive someone fully, which was stealing my peace. Whenever I thought about this person, I would get upset and think about everything I wanted to say to them in defense of myself. I heard Katie Souza’s teaching that if we did not forgive those as the Father forgave us, he would hand us over to the tormentors. I always thought this was a verse only about going to hell, but she revealed there is a tormenting that takes place on earth. I believe this is the Lord’s mercy to help us forgive so we don’t make the mistake of holding unforgiveness, thereby forfeiting our salvation. I often felt tormented by this scenario, and I spent many days stuck in anger. My pastor spoke about praying for those who have hurt you, and as you pray, it will open your heart up to forgive them. Even though I said I forgave them many times, I continued to get enraged over them. Every time I got upset over this person, I prayed for them. Finally, one day, I was in so much angst that it brought me to my knees. As I prayed in tongues for thirty minutes, the Lord showed me a picture of myself and this person. As this person went off on me, I didn’t interject as I imagined myself doing so many times while rehearsing what I wanted to say back to them. I didn’t dish it right back. Instead, I let this person say everything they wanted to say to me, then shrugged my shoulders while asking, “Anything else?” This person looked shocked and said “No’ and walked away.
It wasn’t as though I wasn’t right to defend myself, but the Lord showed me he didn’t want me to continue in strife, to humbly let it fall to the ground and move on. It would’ve only made things worse if I had done what I wanted, but the Lord showed me that it was time to let it go and defuse the situation. I don’t think my situation should be applied to everyone. The Holy Spirit knows the complexities of your situation, and he may lead you differently. He may lead you to speak up for yourself; go to him in prayer over it.
The Lord needed me to exchange my will with his; I was so upset that the Lord had to break my pride and ego to receive his will. He allowed me to be so tormented that I had no choice but to persist in prayer over the issue and be open to receiving his humble nature that speaks a soft word.
Intercession is an “intervention led by God.” I think we are all familiar with some form of intercession. Have you ever felt a sudden urge to pray for someone? Maybe someone keeps popping up in your head when you haven’t thought of them in years. You may wake in the night with a dream you know is from the Lord. He’s probably leading you to intercede, not just to have a concerning dream or predict the future. Maybe you wake up at the same time every night; the Lord may want you to ask him if he is waking you to pray. In the same way that we exchange our will for his, the Lord wants us to get his will on the matter when we intercede for others. The Holy Spirit wants to lead you on how to pray, and he will give you nudges
I want to cover the ones that are not so obvious so you can start recognizing his more subtle leading. This will help you realize all the ways he speaks to you, especially if you are the way I used to be. For a long time, I struggled to hear the Lord’s voice. Looking back, I realized I struggled to recognize how he spoke to me. I’ve always had dreams, but until recently, I didn’t know some of the dreams were given to me to intercede for someone or something. I don’t think I have ever had a vision; it took some prayer mentors to help me recognize the subtle ways he led me. I would call what I get are more like pictures, not visions. I was expecting the Lord to speak to me more clearly through visions that I missed all the pictures he gave me. They are quick flashes that are not super vivid but look more like a memory in my mind’s eye. It bubbles up within my gut and usually flashes quickly as I pray. It doesn’t always have to be right away. When I get a picture, word, or impression, if I’m not sure it’s from the Lord, I will keep praying; if it keeps popping up, I know it’s the Lord. If I am praying for someone, I will ask them if it resonates with them, which can help me determine if I’m hearing the Lord correctly. It may not always resonate with them immediately but may later, so it’s good practice to say I think the Lord is telling or showing me this. Does that witness with you?
“Many Christians pray, and when their mind wanders they think it’s the devil distracting them. That may sometimes be the case, but maybe our “devil” is too active, our God too inactive. When your mind wanders, maybe God is leading you to creative solutions to problems. You may have been resisting ideas from heaven and keeping to a rigid, religious practice of prayer. Some business people get “off track” when they’re praying, thinking about a deal or an opportunity, and at the end of the prayer time they think, “I just blew my whole prayer time thinking about something else.” Guilt and condemnation come on them when God was actually swerving them over to a subject that was on His mind. He wanted them to think creatively and to interact with Him so He could release ideas they’d never had before.”“The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind Expanded Edition: Access to a Life of Miracles” by Bill Johnson
Another good practice is writing everything the Lord shows, speaks, nudges, and impresses upon you. If you don’t, you will forget. Once you start recording everything, you realize he speaks way more than you realize, and through the business of the day, you may forget. The easiest practice, I think, is to keep notes on your phone and transfer them to a notebook later in the day. That way, the Lord can expand on anything He spoke, and this will help implant what he said to you so you remember it. Even if you are unsure, it is from the Lord; record it. I have found the Lord confirms his word, and it’s a great way to check that it lines up with scripture.
What does all this have to do with intercession? It develops your ability to hear and partner with the Holy Spirit in appealing to others and hitting the mark of praying the Lord’s will.
“Then I attached an addendum: “God, I really would like some confirmation from You that these prayers I am praying are making any kind of difference.” This cry came from my heart because suddenly, on that cold winter night, I felt rather foolish. I noticed that the clock said 3:10 a.m. My answer came quickly. The next night at our Wednesday night service Todd stopped me before I went out the door and asked if he could speak with me. He said, “Cindy, not many people know this, but I have cancer. Last night I was awake in extreme pain. I felt lonely and cried out to God, ‘God, doesn’t anyone care?’” Todd said that God spoke to him at that moment and said, Cindy Jacobs is awake and is praying for you. The clock read 3:10”“Possessing the Gates of the Enemy: A Training Manual for Militant Intercession” by Cindy Jacobs, C. Wagner, Lou Engle
I recommend reading this powerful book if you want to grow in intercession.
When we seek the Lord’s heart on a matter and get a revelation of his will downloaded and pray his will an authority is released in the spirit realm. It’s because we are speaking the words of the highest authority on earth, and everything in the natural and spirit realms must submit to the Lord’s decree that you spoke out of your mouth. We become the Lord’s mouthpiece on the earth in our intercession time, and by his decree, we can partner with the Lord to move mountains. Because it is his will and word, it will always carry weight and authority.
Jesus walked in this authority because he said he could do nothing, but he did and spoke what he saw the Father do and speak. He cast out demons, healed the sick, and raised the dead. Even the crowds recognized that he taught with great authority.
“Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”John 5:19
I believe other elements were part of Jesus walking in authority and power. He lived righteously but walked in humility. His love was his robe of righteousness, and because of his mercy, he triumphed over the legalism the enemy tried to oppress so many with. This all came out of intimacy with the Father. We see throughout the gospels he went away to pray. Prayer is not just a chore we must perform every day. It is a place of intimacy.
“After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone,”Matthew 14:23
I want to look at this verse’s word pray (g.4336). Similar to prayer(g.4335), but it expounds more on the intimacy that takes place when we pray. Proseuchomai comes from pros and euchomai; to pray to God, i.e., Supplicate, worship – pray (earnestly, for), make prayer.
Pray is similar to prayer in Greek, where wishes are exchanged. But I love how this goes into more detail, and it’s an exchanging of ideas “for his wishes as He imparts faith (“divine persuasion”),” and prayer is “closely inter-connected with” faith. The other root word of “pray” is pro, and it says “moving toward a goal or destination. I think in modern terms we call this the secret place. Pros “naturally suggests the cycle of initiation and response.” This is intimacy, dialogue, sharing space, sharing presence, picking up and sensing the responses and emotions of another. This is a form of worship. You will spend time with what you worship, what you love. When you are in the same room as someone you are familiar with, you can sense their thoughts or emotions even if they don’t speak.
When we spend time with the Lord in prayer, he not only wants us to sense what is on his heart but also wants us to sense his presence and his love for us. When you spend time with someone, you start to mimic things that a person does; you may mimic how they say certain words or enjoy participating in the things they love. In the same way, we take on the Lord’s nature in this place of prayer.
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”John 15:7
There is that word “wish” again. Remain in this verse means to abide, stay, wait, tarry. Then it says his words will remain in you. When we abide in prayer, we exchange our wishes for his. We exchange our wishes and ideas for his word. Out of this place, we will ask whatever we wish; we will wish for what he desires, and it will be done for us.
Wish in this verse is theló: to will, wish.
“2309 /thélō (“to desire, wish”) is commonly used of the Lord extending His “best-offer” to the believer – wanting (desiring) to birth His persuasion (faith) in them which also empowers, manifests His presence etc. See 2307 (thelēma).”Bible Hub: theló – Strong’s Concordance
Isn’t it interesting how it says to birth his faith in them, which also empowers and manifests his presence?
Out of this place of intimacy, it is a natural response to worship the Lord and thank him for his grace and favor. His presence brings a natural response to worship.
What about when we don’t feel like giving thanks to him because of our hardships? There is a command in this verse to worship him and thank him anyway. It uplifts your mind to his goodness instead of the mire of misery.
In extreme cases, such as what Jesus went through in the Garden of Gethsemane, I believe he was given grace no matter how hard it was to worship the Lord. His worship looked like obedience and submission to the Lord’s will and trusting in his plan that he was good, and although he faced a great deal of pain, he could trust in him to redeem him and obey his plan to lay down his life as a sacrifice.
In hardship, give the Lord a sacrifice of praise. It could be as simple as reminding yourself of God’s goodness as David did often. David was a great example; he was a man of war, yet he was one of the most worshipful figures in the Old Testament. War is not full of rainbow glittery feelings when we are in battle, but he worshiped despite being hunted down by the king, leading numerous wars, and facing many trials. In the end, the Lord continued to give him the victory just as he gave Jesus the victory after excruciating pain.
When we thank him, we remind ourselves he is good no matter what. We can trust him despite what we walk through, and he will give us the ultimate victory. Jesus did not lead his disciples to take over the Roman Empire like they thought he would. He died, but the Lord gave him the ultimate victory through his death. It’s hard to wrap our minds around the Lord’s will, but thank him because he sees the end from the beginning. He has your life in his hands, he is good and you can trust him.
I want to point out that 1 Timothy 2:1 says supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving for all people. This may be hard to do for those who have hurt us. It may be as simple as saying, Lord, thank you for giving me the grace to forgive this person. I thank You that You make a way where there is no way, your kindness leads all to repentance, and I thank You, Lord, that no one is too far gone that You are not willing to save if they turn to You and repent. I ask they repent and turn to you. I forgive them of their trespasses against me and ask you to save their soul. I put them in your hands and let them go. Thank you for your love and grace that enables me to walk in this and heals me.
Jesus said to the Father as he died on the cross, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”