This week and next, we are going to look at personal intercession—or prayer partnering. Today I am sharing some tips for leaders to make the most of prayer support and next week will review some vital keys for those of us who are personal intercessors ourselves.
I first encountered the ministry of personal intercession 16 years ago. At that time, my husband Malcolm (aka ‘The Hunk’) and I were ministering with a mission agency. We recognised the need to have prayer support, especially for his role as National Director, his frequent missions trips, and our itinerant ministry around New Zealand.
To this day, we reflect with gratitude on the significant role our intercessors played, as our ‘hidden’ partners in ministry.
More recently I spent 5 years leading prayer in our church, in which we organised personal intercession for our pastors and leaders. I have also been a personal intercessor myself.
Now in itinerant ministry again, I am again focused on nurturing significant prayer partnerships.
A personal intercessor is someone who prays regularly for another person.
At its simplest form, personal intercession can be the natural response of friends who support one another in prayer, or a prayer partnership.
Personal intercession can also be anonymous. For example, a person whose heart is moved upon by the Holy Spirit may pray once or continually for another, without the need of acknowledgement.
But the most well-known use of personal intercession occurs when leaders or ministers—recognising the need for prayer cover due to the nature of their ministry—seek those who will strategically partner in prayer with them.
The Power of Prayer
‘Brothers and sisters, pray for us.’ (1 Thess 5:25)
Personal intercession recognises that prayer is vital to the fulfilment of God’s purposes and plans (Matt 6:10). It also acknowledges that prayer is a means of spiritual protection (Rom 15:31, 2 Cor 1:10-11)
Throughout his letters in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul urged people and churches to pray for him and his ministry.
Paul’s requests for prayer give us an insight into the benefits and power of personal intercession. 
Tips for Making the Most of Your Prayer Support
Are you a leader who could benefit from having or increasing your prayer support? Here are some ideas that can help you:
Build Relationship with Your Prayer Supporters
Be specific about how you would like your prayer partners to pray. This empowers them and makes it easy for them to respond if they do not have a great deal of time.
Communicate in a personal way. Don’t just share your schedule and your prayer requests. Let them know what is on your heart and allow them see your humanness—they will relate to you and pray all the more. (2 Cor 1:8-11)
Express Appreciation. Thank them often and well—your prayer supporters are your hidden team, generous with their love and time.
Share testimonies and answers to prayer, don’t just send requests. Sharing the results helps them to feel part of your team and the stories cause them to praise God and spur them on to pray more!
Encourage feedback—let them know you would love to receive prophetic insights or scriptural words of encouragement. When you do receive feedback, respond to it, even if you can only manage a brief ‘Thank you.’
Pray for those who pray for you
Paul not only constantly asked for prayer, he also reciprocated it, earnestly praying for the people and churches on his heart. (Phil 1:4, Philemon 1:4, Eph 1:16)
This is the basis of true prayer partnership.
At David McCracken Ministries, we invite those who are praying for us to also share their own prayer requests. We make praying for these a priority as a team, together and individually. We also pray for our partners on a regular basis at our weekly meetings.
Recognise the Limitations of Email
Email is currently the most utilised means of communicating prayer requests.
However, these days, people are bombarded with requests and emails and we can’t assume that every person will read the email immediately—or read it at all.
Be creative with your subject header to pique interest. Make your email personal, concise and interesting.
For urgent prayer requests, or with a select group of prayer supporters who are close to you, SMS is a great way to gain immediate prayer support.
If you want your number to remain private, or have a large organisation, you can send bulk SMS (texts) via an online service.
Consider some other creative ways to gain prayer support, such as social media. Some, such as Facebook, have the capacity for closed (non-public) groups. I recently ‘tweeted’ a prayer request and had someone from the other side of the world stop and pray for me! 
Don’t expect all your prayer partners to pray the same way.
Appreciate the differences between your intercessors and take these into account. There are 3 main types of prayer partners. These are:
1. ‘Daily intercessors’ will pray for you most days, and may pray prefer to pray over a list.
If you have a large number of prayer supporters, consider having a general information sheet you can email or post out, with your photo, info about your ministry, your passion, your family (if you would like them prayed for), and general prayer requests.
2 ‘Alert intercessors’ will pray when you alert them to a particular need or remind them to pray.
Included in this group are some pray-ers have a special gift to pray specifically and powerfully in times of crisis.
3. ‘Prophetic intercessors’ will be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit as to when and how to pray for you.
These are most likely to feedback prophetic insights, and if they are gifted in discernment, will be of special assistance when spiritual warfare is occurring.
You don’t have to share the same information with all of your prayer partners.
If preferred, you can have levels, or circles, of prayer support. Your innermost circle will be those who are closest to you, with whom you can trust confidential information and personal requests.
An outer circle can receive general prayer requests, and information such as itineraries. Nurture both.
Don’t Rely Solely on Intercession by Others
We need to ensure that our own prayer life (as well as that of our organisation, church or ministry team) is active and that we ourselves are praying for the things we are asking our prayer partners to cover.
The Apostle Paul’s Prayer Requests:
- For help, for deliverance from external hardships, as well as internal pressures (2 Cor 1:8-11)
- For boldness and for God to give him words to speak as he preached the Gospel (Eph 6:18-20)
- For doors of ministry to open, for the ability to preach the gospel clearly (Col 4:2-5)
- For release from persecution, imprisonment and difficult circumstances (Phil 1:19-20, Philem 1:22)
- For protection and favour (Rom 15:31)
- For the rapid spread and reception of the Gospel message (2 Thess 3:1)
Posts on the topic of Prayer:
© Helen Calder 2011 Enliven Blog