"... always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all" (Phil. 1:4)
Intercessory prayer is a powerful tool in the hands of a righteous person.
A story is told of a special nurse who knew the importance of intercessory prayer. Because each day she used her hands as instruments of God's love and mercy toward those in her care, she found it natural to use her hand as a scheme of prayer. Each finger represented someone she wanted to pray for. Her thumb was nearest to her and reminded her to pray for those who were closest and dearest. The index finger was used for pointing, so it stood for her instructors. The third finger was the tallest and stood for those in leadership. The fourth finger was the weakest, representing those in distress and pain. The little finger, which was the smallest and least important, reminded the nurse to pray for her own needs.
Undoubtedly that nurse knew the joy of praying for others. Paul knew it too. Given the same circumstances, a lesser man would be consumed with his own well-being, but Paul what he teaches in Philippians 2:4: "Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others." Such an attitude is the heart of effective intercessory prayer.
Those who lack the joy of the Holy Spirit often harbor negative thoughts toward others, which debilitates compassion and hinders prayer. That's tragic because intercessory prayer is a powerful tool in the hands of righteous people (James 5:16).
Analyze your own prayers. Are they generous with praise to God for His goodness to others? Do you pray for the needs of others? Practice doing so, and the joy of intercession will be yours.
Suggestions for Prayer: Pray for specific people and specific needs. Thank God for what you see Him doing in the lives of others.
For Further Study: John 17 is Christ's intercessory prayer for His disciples, including us (v. 20). After reading the chapter, complete the following statements. Eternal life is ______________. Christ's mission on earth was to ______________. The world's reaction to Christ and His followers is _____________________. The best way to convince the world that Christ was sent by the Father is to _______________.