Prophetic intercession is simply praying for another person, group or situation by the direction of the Holy Spirit. This guidance comes by way of prophetic revelation—in other words, the Holy Spirit is making something known that is not comprehended by natural means. [1]

All Christians can expect to receive the Holy Spirit’s guidance to pray at certain times. Some, however, will be especially gifted in this area.

Prophetic IntercessionMy husband Malcolm and I learned the value of having a prophetic intercessor on our prayer team throughout our years of ministry in New Zealand.

During our most difficult trials, one of our personal intercessors—an elderly woman named Marge—would invariably phone us. Her opening words after greeting us would be, ‘What is going on?’ Marge always knew by the Holy Spirit when we were having our fiercest battles, and her insights and prayers were a constant encouragement to us.

The Unique Role of a Prophetic Intercessor

During the years I led the prayer department of our church, I grew to appreciate the different kinds of prayer gifts:

  • There were the prayer warriors who would pray every day, on a regular basis. Regardless of what was going on, you knew you could depend on them.
  • Some prayer partners thrived on written or emailed prayer requests—and we honoured this by keeping in regular touch with them.
  • Still others came to the fore when there was a crisis—swelling the ranks of prayer partners when called upon during an emergency.

A prophetic intercessor operates on a different kind of alert system – being directly alerted by the Holy Spirit as to when there is a need to pray.

The benefit of this is revealed during times when you are in a spiritual battle, or in a crisis where you do not have the ability to send out a general prayer request.

As a leader, I have learned not to place expectations on prophetic intercessors to operate outside of their natural gifting. The communication of prayer requests and testimonies should be seen as fuel for their gift, rather than an expectation that they will pray at a certain time or in a certain way.

Traits of a Prophetic Intercessor

I learned personally about prophetic intercession when the Holy Spirit awakened the gift in me during the 1990’s.

As with all spiritual gifts, no two prophetic intercessors will experience the leading of the Holy Spirit in the same way. Some ways that the Holy Spirit can lead a prophetic intercessor in prayer include:

1. The simple ‘knowing’ that prayer is needed at a certain time.

2. A sudden or growing burden or urge to pray.

3. Receiving insight from God through prophetic revelation such as a scripture, vision, word or feeling.

4. A sense of identification with the object of prayer—in other words feeling the needs of those being prayed for.

5. Sensing the heart of God towards the person or situation requiring prayer.

Note that both 4 And 5 may result in what seems to be an emotional response. This may either prompt the prayer, or manifest during the prayer.

As a prophetic intercessor, I  learned one key difference between my own emotions and those awakened by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of prayer. Feelings allowed by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of prayer can (and should) be released completely through intercession.

6. A prophetic intercessor may at times experience the deep ‘groanings’ of the Holy Spirit. [2] He or she understands what Paul writes about in Romans 8:26-27:

‘In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.’

Important Reminders for Prophetic Intercessors

From the viewpoint of those of us who are not gifted in prophetic intercession, a prophetic intercessor that is lacking in maturity may seem ‘flaky.’ However, he or she may simply be in need of some pastoral leadership and guidance in the use of the gift.

I have discussed some strengths of prophetic intercession above. Some things a prophetic intercessor may need to be gently reminded of at times are:

1. Don’t be intimidated by others’ prayer gifts (such as those who have an ability to pray more regularly). You have a unique and precious gift from God. [3]

2. On the other hand, don’t expect all intercessors to experience prayer the way you do. Their gifts are different but just as powerful.

3. Honour the leadership and culture of your church in the public expression of your prayer. If you are experiencing a feeling or sense of direction that is different to the way the prayer meeting is being led and are unsure what to do about it, pray about it and check privately with the leader. It may be something for you to pray about personally.

4. Related to 3., remember that all prophetic revelation is subject to being weighed up. Submitting the direction of your prayer to leadership and at times needing adjustment is a vital part of your prophetic ministry. (1 Thess 5:19-22)

5. If you do experience manifestations, be aware of appropriate times and places. It is wise to save the ‘emotional’ part of releasing your gift until you can get alone with God. ‘The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.’ (1 Cor 14:32)

6. You do not need to carry an unhealthy emotional burden related to your ministry of prayer. If you are becoming weary or emotionally involved, check with a leader or have someone pray with you.

7. Prophetic intercession is a ministry of faith. We do not always know the reason for the prayer burden that the Holy Spirit gives us; neither do we always learn the outcome of our prayers. But we do know that God is faithful. And—that the greatest reward of prophetic intercession is intimacy with the Holy Spirit.


[1] The NT Greek word for revelation, apokalupsis, means ‘an uncovering,’ or ‘disclosure.’

[2] This has sometimes been called ‘travail’ and been related to birthing the purposes of God through prayer. The Apostle Paul said of the Galatians, ‘My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.’ (Gal 4:19) One way this was likely to have been expressed was in his prayers.

[3] For insights about different prayer gifts, I highly recommend Intercessors Discover Your Prayer Power, by FEMRITE, T; ALVES, E; KAUFMAN, K.  2000.  Ventura : Regal.

Related Posts:

8 tips For Personal Intercessors

How To Increase Your Prayer Support Through Personal Intercession

17 Signs You May Be a Prophetic Intercessor

© Helen Calder Enliven Blog – Prophetic Teaching

Enliven Ministries: in the David McCracken Ministries family

31 thoughts on “Prophetic Intercession, Its Power And Pitfalls”

  1. nailed me to a T…. this was released in me in the 90’s when i came to faith.. and the only advice at that time, was to continue as i was doing and trust in the Holy spirit.. it was accurate, but for a type A personality, not enough info! also there were some very flakey people that my pastor and his wife decided were unhelpful around us, and so i buried this gifting, praying only as led, when at home with lots of kids, busyness, outside work, church duties etc… basically i did not pray unless the Holy spirit moved me to prayer, usually if i actually DID have a quiet time… or when i was absent minded driving the car, i would get images of people and urgency etc.. and later find out that a crisis was occurring or had been averted miraculously… iGod is so good. it suits my busy lifestyle and personality, with work and six kids to have this type of prayer ministry. i though have condemned myself for not being able to stick to a regular prayer list, and i have caught myself and decided that i will not say : i will pray for you” unless i actually do.. so I prefer to say.. May i pray for you…. and do it right then, which often bears lovely fruit in relationship, open-ness and evangelism. I also have opened email to see a prayer request, and instantly had the ‘symptoms’ you have described with an unexpected burden or visions of the event..enough that i know it is not my knowledge or emotions… as they can surprise me, other times nothing for even serious issues, so i pray and move on. i thought that was random and unfocussed prayer and also condemned myself for that too… so this is a timely and fabulous article that really affirms what God has been rebirthing in me in the last 6 months, even this weekend as a prayer team is being birthed in our church. Particularly i noted the comment that the burden is released completely… I condemned myself for that too! I always pray until i ffeel release, or released… and then pick up whatever i was doing again… i thought that made me shallow or callous compared to the intensity of what went on before…. and i had not heard of anyone else like me! LOL so Thankyou! very much thankyou…. right now, I am so glad to rest in this as God unfolds it, and lay all that silly condemnation, confusion and doubt aside. Awesome! and yes please more on this topic, especially in praying for others in church meetings… especially when you “feel” things in your body or over organs etc. .. when praying for others… cheers…

    1. Hi Ries, I was so excited to get your response! As intercessors and pray-ers, we need to realise that we are uniquely wired and gifted, that the spiritual gift we have is precious and useful, and glorious! When we began to study differences amongst types of intercessors in our prayer team, it dealt with a lot of intimidation and condemnation, much that we didn’t realise was affecting some of us until we received Father’s validation of our own uniqueness within the broader ministry of prayer. May you continue to rest in His Presence and delight in the unique way He has created you to flow with Him. 🙂
      P.S. Sounds like you are talking about word of knowledge at the end there!

  2. Thank you for this helpul blog article which I found thru Twitter. I feel that this is encouraging for those who find prayer meetings to be rather formulaic and list-based at times. Sometimes there’s an urgency to pray for something or someone, and just because we feel that urgency, that does not mean that we then have to pray for every other similar situation – example: we are moved to pray for a local church leader engaged in an outreach event – this doesn’t mean we then have to pray ‘out of a sense of fairness’ for each and every other local minister and event!

    On a different note, when I was in my mid-20s I was on an evangelistic mission in Southern England. During the evening address, I sat next to a young lady with whom I spoke for a short while after the close. During the conversation, it was apparent she was not a Christian and I had a strong and specific word of knowledge about sin issues in her personal life. I was very flaky in my own walk and had never before had a word of knowledge – indeed I wasn’t even sure what it was! I really didn’t know what to do with this word, so I took it to prayer that evening. I prayed most of the night for this lady and it was one of the most intense spiritual battles I have ever had (I didn’t know much about spiritual warfare either!) To my delight, during the following evening’s meeting she freely gave her life to the Lord! In written correspondence after the mission, she confirmed the word of knowledge I had received (without my prompting) and went on to sort out the issues she’d been struggling with.

    At the time, I wrestled with the question: Should I have shared the word with her there and then? Or do as I did and keep it for intercessory prayer?

    I wanted to share this story because I felt it aligned really well with what you have written above.

    Anglesey, North Wales

    1. Hi James, greetings from Down Under 🙂
      Yes I think prophetic intercessors do find task-based prayer meetings difficult. On the other hand, those who prefer structured prayer sessions find prayer led by prophetic intercessors frustrating. I’m wondering whether a well-led prayer meeting could make room for both, i.e. have the list, but also allow room for the Holy Spirit to lead through prophetically gifted intercessors as well.

      Wow, that was a remarkable instance of prophetic intercession and how wonderful that God gave you the confirmation of your word and the power of your prayers. Many times we don’t know how our prophetic prayers are answered, I love Father’s grace in allowing us to see (especially when starting out) a glimpse of what our prayers can accomplish.

      I love it that there is always more to experience and know of the Spirit’s ways, too. May you continue to be blessed and learn richly in your journey with Him.

      1. Thanks again for that helpful comment! It’s true – some of our more ‘structured’ people are some of the most faithful intercessors, whereas I am still somewhat flaky aged 50! As my main area of gifting and service is worship leading and I am stepping out in the prophetic in this area too, I am probably considered even more flaky!

        And yes, Father God has been so good in allowing me to see some of the fruit of answered prayer – even today. Perhaps I need more reassurance… And I love it too that there is always more to learn and experience of Him and His ways, of His awesome majesty and His mystery. Just finished reading Beni Johnson’s book ‘The Happy Intercessor’ and it’s certainly raised my temperature for intercession!

        Every blessing to you, and I look forward to reading more of your blogs in due course!

  3. Hi Helen,

    Chontae here how are you? Have thoroughly enjoyed this insightful reading as always your words of wisdom just penetrate the uncertainty in areas that yet I am to mature in. Love love love reading your blogs this one is no doubt any different.

    Helen I have found in the last six months that I have intensified in dreaming of other people and there circumstances well actually these are crisis that they have gone through on a particular night to find that my spirit automatically prays into the situation, these situations have been like a very close friend to me in our church roaming in her car looking to buy drugs from someone at 1am in the morning and than in my dream my spirit just starts praying at around 1:34am. Well weeks later she tells me that’s what happened but for some reason she had no desire to look for drugs it was 1:36am she turns and goes home to hubby or another dreaming of domestic violence, suicide all which I have dream’t of and my spirit prays into the situations weeks/months later hear from these people that during these situations things just stopped i.e in the domestic violence situation just when the wife thought this was it the hubby just stopped and walked out. The suicide dream the person just stopped what they were doing and are with us today I have had many more dreams like these all which people are in our church. Isn’t our God absolutely indescribable in how he works through us.

    Helen is this Prayer Intercession as well I know its some form of intercession. I am very flaky myself learning about what’s happening with me and not having a leader at the moment to speak to about this stuff reason’s we are all in our thirties including our Ps so very young church. It can be really intense for me Helen and sometimes too much for me to bare at times but this is something not new for me to dream but what is new is that even in my sleep in dreams my spirit prays for others or if I am under spiritual attack or when a demonic spirit enters into the atmosphere whilst still sleeping I pray without even fully waking up I have found that to be AMAZING.

    Look forward to your insight and words of wisdom as always.
    Blessings to you Helen.

    New Zealand

    1. Hi Chontae, great to hear from you!
      It sounds like a remarkable gift, to be praying and interceding in your dreams, and does seem to be prophetic, as dreams are one way that the Holy Spirit speaks to His people. (Acts 2:17)

      I believe there are two important things we can look for in our prophetic intercession: fruit, and accountability. Fruit means – are the prayers being answered, is God being glorified, are people being led closer to Jesus? And wow – sounds as though some wonderful things are happening through your dream life with God.

      And the second thing is accountability. To me, this means having the humility to be accountable to leaders in our gifts. Keeping notes about what is happening in our prayer life, having someone (mentor or oversight in church life) to touch base with, being open to adjustment without taking it personally. I don’t think it matters whether or not the leader is mature or has particular insight into the gift, God is faithful to give wisdom as it is needed in the church. So the accountability stays in-house, but you can still learn externally (such as this blog). Hope this helps!

    2. I often find myself dreaming and praying without realy waking up too. Other times I am unable to sleep or rest because of the call to prayer for someone in just the sort of circustances you have described.

  4. Hi Helen,

    Thank you for your time and words of wisdom and encouragement.

    Loved what you were saying about fruit and accountability. In terms of accountability for me all my stuff goes to my pastor and he with diligence and discernment handles the situations and circumstances in the way that God wills for him too. I made that decision three years ago to not personally handle pastoral or care side of things directly with the people involved. My Ps has been learning alongside with me in all of this as well so it has been interesting all around in the last three years and His wisdom has been tremendous.

    On another note we are moving to Auckland for a couple of years to a church lead by Ps Brent Douglas you may know of him so my hubby and I are really excited about this next part of our journey that the Lord has prepared for us.

    Take care Helen
    Talk soon

    1. Hi Chontae, that’s exciting about your move to Auckland! (my home town :-)) Yes Ps Brent Douglas is a friend of our ministry – you will be blessed.
      You are very much on the right track with your gifts and ministry, there are great things ahead as you stay committed, submitted and on fire for God!

  5. WOW!!! Thank you again Helen, this is so encouraging, I love the way You Honour the different Spiritual Gifts and Expressions of the Holy Spirit. I found the E-Book you wrote about ,”Grow Your Prophetic and Prayer Gifts” very helpful, a BRILLIANT Book in understanding the different stages and expressions we can grow in our GOD given gifts. Especially Love what You wrote in Page 58, it really speaks to me about the beautiful and gentle ways, The Holy Spirit can ” AWAKEN ” Spiritual Gifts inside of us, gifts that we were not even aware of. “Holy Spirit can Awaken something GOD has put inside of me”, WOW!!! Helen, that is so Beautiful, just that thought alone fills my heart with New Hope and Joy within. Like a different Season from Winter to Spring. I found Your Book filled with Possibilities, Potential and Purpose, speaks Courage and Faith into me. And one thing I have learnt is, “I will never despise the day of Small Beginnings”. “The BEST is Yet to Come”. Thank you again Helen, as always You are such a Wonderful Blessing and Inspiration to ALL the Body of CHRIST.

    I wrote the following poem last week during the prayer and fast. I was inspired by the Book of Isaiah chapter 35, especially verses 3,4,5 and 6, I think this could speak of Spiritual Healing in the area of Hope and Wholeness, one example is; sometimes we can feel spiritually lame and crippled, and not have the Strength to Arise and See, Hear, Speak and Walk in Faith, because of the discouragement, fear and wounds that have come against us, I know that I have felt this way before. I think it could also speak of GOD Healing the broken hearted and Restoring New Strength, Joy, Hope, Vision and Purpose.
    I called this “GOD renews Hope in the Heart”.

    JESUS, You are my GOD, my LORD and my KING
    To You Forever, I will Sing

    You Captured my Heart, and Saved my Soul
    You gave me Peace, and You made me Whole

    You gave me a New Song to Sing
    You filled my Heart with a New Melody
    You let me hear Heavens Harmony

    The Winds of Heaven Blew on Me
    You Opened up my Eyes to See
    The Beauty of Your Love for Me

    The River so Crystal Clear
    Where Healing Waters do Appear

    I will Draw Near
    I will Taste and SEE
    The Bread of Life is HE

    HIS Holy Spirit, is Water for my Thirsty Soul
    Only JESUS can Comfort me, and make me Whole

    As I wait, I Will Declare
    My GOD is GOOD
    My GOD is GREAT
    My GOD is STRONG
    HE fills My Heart to Overflowing, with a New Melody
    HE fills My Heart to Overflowing, with a New Song

    As I Look around me LORD
    I See a Tree which once was dry and bare, is Covered Now with Blossoms Everywhere
    I Hear the Birds Singing a Tune, I had never heard Before
    I See a Caterpillar in a Cocoon, Emerge into a Beautiful Butterfly, with New Wings to Fly
    This Brings a tear to my Eye

    I See the Petals of a Rose Bud Begin to Unfold
    I am now Reminded of The Promises You LORD, have Foretold
    Just Like the Petals of The Rose I SEE
    My GOD can Unfold All Things, for You and for Me

    My GOD is GREAT, and HE is STRONG
    HE gives to me a New Melody
    HE gives to me a New Song

    Now I have New Hope
    Now I can Sing
    GOD is Restoring, My Hope Within

    The Winter will Pass
    The Spring is just about Here
    I See the Birds, and the Flowers Appear

    My Heart will Awaken this Spring
    With a New Song in my mouth to Sing

    Poem by Irene Kyriacou

    1. Hi there Irene, thanks so much for the thoughts and feedback about the book – I’m glad it has been useful and inspiring for you. 🙂 Love your prophetic poem, such a picture of new life in Jesus and His healing power. I will share it with the staff here, a great encouragement!

  6. Kashima Cunningham

    Hello Helen. I am somewhat new to your website, but what I have read so far is quite encouraging for me. I got saved roughly 2 years ago but only started experiencing visions a couple months ago. I was told by my pastor that and another prophet that I have I am going to be a mighty warrior for god. My issue is this, I don’t get prophetic visions very often and I am wondering if from your experiences, if u can tell me if this has anything to do with me (need to spend more time with god) or is it normally like this when you are just starting out in the prophetic ministry?

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