| By Pete Burak

Making Your Intercessory Prayer Fruitful

There’s something refreshingly noble about the faithful grandmother earnestly praying Rosary after Rosary for her children and grandchildren. The steadfast faith, the unwavering devotion and genuine belief in the power of her prayers all inspire admiration but also often concealed and unspoken questions. Does it really matter? Is God actually listening to and answering her prayers?

Before I give three tips for fruitful intercessory prayer, I have a confession. We all have people we’ve promised to pray for, and we’ve all spent time talking to God on behalf of others. Yet, I’ve found that far too often, my approach to intercessory prayer is lukewarm, uninspired, inconsistent and lacking in much belief that anything will come of it. Even as I type these words, I’m embarrassed and appalled by this mindset. Jesus, forgive me for doubting that you’re listening, that you care and that your answers, even when different from what I’d prefer, are good, true and loving.

The starting line of intercessory prayer is faith. We must believe that we have a good Father who is always listening and always faithful. The Lord searches the earth looking for those who care enough to cry out to him. As Ezekiel 22:30 reveals, “I looked for anyone to repair the wall and stand in the gap for me on behalf of the land, so I wouldn't have to destroy it. But I couldn't find anyone.” There’s no time to waste: our world, families and friends need us before God pleading for his mercy and grace to fill their lives. Here’s how we can begin:

Pray in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Divine Advocate. Romans chapter 8 reminds us that the Spirit united with our spirit allows us to cry “Abba, Father.” The Spirit unites us to Christ who brings us to the Father, and the good Father always listens to his children.

Be specific and intentional. General prayers are fine, but praying for specific needs helps us clarify what it is we desire God to do for us. It also allows us to see more clearly when he answers us. When we see him move, it inspires more faith in us and those interceding with us. He never begrudges the littlest, most specific request, so tell him exactly what you’re advocating for!

Pair intercession with fasting. Fasting isn’t fun, but it’s powerful. By uniting our suffering with Jesus, we participate in the ultimate action of intercession (Christ’s death on the cross) and mysteriously unleash a fresh abundance of grace on ourselves and those for whom we’re praying.   

There’s nothing flashy about faithful intercessory prayer, but God notices. So next time you say, “I’ll pray for you,” mean it, then go stand in the gap.