Prayer for others is often underrated in the Jesus community. Recently a number from our fellowship met in a home for a prayer meeting. The spirit and heart of interceding in prayers for our church and for a couple of sick ones, was a blessing to behold and be a part of. And one who was sick, with no answers, is feeling well, like himself again.
Interestingly the second part of the "Our Father" prayer Jesus taught his disciples (and us) to pray includes petition for others, along with prayer for ourselves (Matthew 6:11-13).
The end of the passage on the armor of God in Ephesians is a powerful call for prayer, and specifically prayer for all of God's people- i.e., intercession (Ephesians 6:18). Note Romans 15:30-33, Paul's request for prayer for himself in his struggle to serve God, urging them to do so "by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit." Also of note is the call for us to pray for all people, including those in governmental authority, so that people would be saved (1 Timothy 2:1-8). And we're even called to pray for our enemies (Luke 6:27-28; Matthew 5:44-45).
Little do we know the difference our intercedings can make for people in this life. According to Scripture they do matter. Remember the faith of the friends of the paralyzed man, along, surely, with the faith of the man himself. By which Jesus forgave his sins (Mark 2:5 and context). And note the powerful call to prayer by James himself ("camel knees" due to his habit of much kneeling in prayer) in 5:13-18.
We find a number of examples of godly people in Scripture interceding in prayer for others. Including our Lord himself (Luke 22:31-32; John 17:6-26).
Many of us have seen little, and clear answers to prayer. But how many of us have persisted and had the faith to see more difficult matters through? What God is interested in is not the number of prayers we pray. But our hearts. Are we really praying in faith and love? The reason we need to persist in prayer is usually because of our weakness. There can be an element of spiritual warfare involved as well (Daniel 10:12 and context).
Lord, Teach us what it means to truly intercede for others in prayer. Let us have a heart to so pray, in faith and love. And in so doing lifting up those who are weighed down. And seeing scales removed from peoples' eyes, so they can see and live in your light. Amen.