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. Hi Kashima,
    How wonderful that you have experienced some visions from God, and that you have a supportive and encouraging pastor who can see God’s hand on your life!
    Don’t worry about how often you receive visions, there are many ways to commune with and here from God, and receive prophetic insights, and you will find He is always speaking to you in different ways.
    I would say, enjoy God’s presence, delight in Him, and don’t worry about how often you have visions, He will lead you in this.
    When you do have a visions, invest some time in writing it out, praying about it and so on.
    Be richly blessed in your journey.

  2. Please pray for the new prayer meeting I’m starting, connected to a ministry that does Bible studies and reaches out to Christian soldiers (such as me) in Ft Carson—the ministry’s called Cadence. I know that all the great revivals in history started with powerful, collective, persistent prayer. Last time we started with repentance, moved on to praise, worship and thanksgiving, and then started praying for deep change in the hearts and lives of people at Cadence, and that His light will shine through us, and His gospel transform lives through us. I’m asking for prayer, because I want the Presence, power and guidance of the Holy Spirit to be present during the prayer meeting. Pray for a deep, powerful, soul-purging time of repentance. Pray that our hearts will be set on Him, and that with a burning hunger in our hearts, we will seek His face, not only His hand. Pray for great faith that He answers prayer, and moves in power to transform lives. Pray that what’s on His heart will be on our hearts—a deep burden, a burning heart for what’s on His heart. Thanks.

  3. Hi Seth, may your prayer meeting be powerfully anointed and used by God! May there be a move of the Holy Spirit through the Cadence ministry. I also pray that your ministry’s outreach and encouragement will bear much fruit in lives changed and brought closer to God.
    It’s great to hear from you, and I will pass your prayer request on to our team at David McCracken Minsitries, too.
    Greetings from Melbourne, Australia. 🙂

  4. My Father must have lead me to you’re article, that I have never heard anyone who spoke my language and identified so closely to the prophetic intercession that God has equipEd me with! This gift is so beautiful and dangerous if in the hands of immaturity! I was called to war against principalities and rulers in high places some years ago, I have had my own pitfalls in my own inability to not emotionally take on the burden while given a vision or knowing. But to understand the Holy Spirit allows me to feel that burden for another and to release it in intercession to the Thrown of God is such a release. I could go on and on about this article, I truly have never heard anyone nail the facts on this gift so accurately! I also consider myself a underground warrior, only because this gift is so misunderstood! When ever my Father calls me on a assignment I have to answer, if I push it off, or ask for a break, he will show me something that I can’t ignore! Then I put on the full Armor! And pull out my Sword! And go to battle!! Sometimes it’s a lonely place, and I have a few wounds, but oh what a Glorious Ride!! I love my Father in heaven! Jesus Christ of Nazereth!! Thank you for taking on my sins and being the New Covenant in your precious Blood! All demons flee at your name! I’m part of the underground Army of God! So many Churches have been corrupted and people mislead! Your word is my sword! Your Spirit my Life! Jenny

  5. I’ve encountered seeing the specific body parts of someone that God has lead me to pray for and I’ve actually felt the pain of the illness that the person is going through is this a common experience? Also, how do you keep the emotions of what your lead to pray for under control when you’re in a different cultural setting

    1. Hi Joyce, those experiences you mention are certainly common to those who receive ‘words of knowledge’ for healing, as well as a type of intercession. A better question to ask, is ‘is this bearing good fruit?’ The way of testing something is not whether others experience the same thing, but whether you are seeing Holy Spirit outcomes when you pray as a result of those experiences.
      Keeping emotions under control – is about making emotion subordinate to honour. When you honour leadership, or honour the culture you are in, then that is the most important thing, then the discipline is a result. Hope that helps 🙂

  6. As an intercessor I find that people often seek me out to pray for them because they know I intercede. At times it gets too overwhelming and I draw back from people. Does God expect me to pray for every situation/person brought to me by people? Are there really ‘prayer assignments’? And, if so, are those only things I should pray about?

    1. Hi Nancy, I know exactly what you mean!
      It’s vital (especially if your gift is prophetic intercession – i.e. praying as you are led by the Holy Spirit, rather than ‘task’ prayer assignments) that you never feel guilty or pressured about taking on people’s prayer needs.
      There’s a few ways I’ve learned to deal with that – 1. Be honest about my gift and describe how it works with me, that I will pray as the Holy Spirit leads me but can’t make commitments apart from that. 2. Say yes (if it’s a one off request) and pray right in that moment, either with them or for them – and then it’s done! or 3. If it’s a request because they have something coming up (e.g. a medical appointment) I pop a reminder on my calendar to remind to pray and it’s done very simply.
      I want to have integrity with my prayer gift before people – but also honour God in the way He has wired me to pray. I know exactly the difficulty you mention, and still have those times of feeling overwhelmed too, Nancy, so it’s always a work in progress and needs to be managed 🙂 Bless you!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.