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What is Intercessory Prayer?

Intercessory prayers are said in hopes of helping other people.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 28 July 2014
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Intercessory prayer is prayer which is undertaken on behalf of others. The intercessor uses prayer to communicate with God, making a request on behalf of someone else or on behalf of a group of people. Many religions include some sort of tradition of intercessory prayer, both for individual worshipers and for groups, and many people find intercessory prayer an important and fulfilling part of their religious practice.

Because intercessory prayer requires a sense of compassion for others, some people believe that it is an important way to contribute to the societies that they live in. Intercessory prayer is also markedly different from personal prayer or meditation, which may be important for self development, but not helpful for the world in general. In a way, this sort of prayer is a selfless act of charity, by using a relationship with God to assist someone else, as an intercessor is literally someone who pleads or takes the case of another.

Most typically, someone makes an intercessory prayer on behalf of a living person or group. For example, someone might pray that his or her mother recovers from a dangerous illness. Others might pray for citizens of a nation which is caught in the turmoil of a war, or for other groups of people. It is also possible to pray on behalf of living animals, and in some cases an intercessory prayer may target an entity. In all cases, God is asked to intervene in some way which will be beneficial.

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Many cultures also have a tradition of prayers for the dead, which is a form of intercessory prayer. In many religions, prayers for the dead are extremely important, and some people believe that it will not be possible to enter the afterlife without these prayers. In religions which have a belief in hell or some sort of punishment after death, people may pray that their loved ones reach paradise, indicating that they forgive these people for any transgressions they may have made during their lives and providing evidence that they are good people who are deserving of God's love.

In some Christian sects, people may also pray to the saints as a form of intercessory prayer. For example, many Catholic fishermen pray to Saint Andrew, the patron saint of fishermen, asking him to intercede with God on their behalf. Others wear medals representing various saints, in the hopes that the saints will look favorably on them and support their cause with God.

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Discuss this Article

Tufenkian925
Post 5

@ShadowGenius

I think that the fact that Christ said he is the way and exhibited it clearly at calvary conflicts with this idea that there are many ways to God. If you want to know God, you must necessarily pursue the way of God, which is straight and narrow. People who are merely pursuing what is "comfortable" will not find it easy to give up their selfishness and take up their cross.

ShadowGenius
Post 4

@GigaGold

I think that we can have more than one intercessor and can pray to many gods, but that all of these prayers will ultimately be directed back to God himself. I think that God is just too big for only one religion. Everyone has their own way of getting to God, and everyone's way fits them best. It's all about finding what you are most comfortable with.

GigaGold
Post 3

@hangugeo112

Jesus said "I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me." It is sad to see how the world is beginning to doubt that Christ is the only way and is forcing an intolerant "tolerance" of many ways to God. This is a universalist view, and is obviously not what Christ taught.

hangugeo112
Post 2

In Christian belief, Christ is the main intercessor between God and Man. He is both fully God and fully man, and is the emissary between us both, the propitiatory sacrifice which reconciled us to God and makes a clear pathway to him. He is in heaven interceding on our behalf.

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