Table of contents
- 1 God appreciates people who pray fervently for other people facing trials. Why does God command intercessory prayer, and how does He want us to do it?
- 2 Prayer to God for Forgiveness of Sins
- 3 Prayer for Forgiving Others
- 4 Short Prayer to Forgive Others
- 5 Short Prayer to Forgive Yourself
- 6 Bible Verses About Forgiveness
God appreciates people who pray fervently for other people facing trials. Why does God command intercessory prayer, and how does He want us to do it?
In the midst of His greatest trial, Jesus prayed fervently. What would you have prayed about when facing torture and death? It’s fascinating to see what was on Jesus’ mind as He prayed, not only for Himself (Luke 22:41-42), but for His disciples and for us:
“As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:18-21).
Jesus did not just focus inward, but by His words and His prayers (John 13-17) showed that He wanted love and joy and peace and patience and all the fruit of God’s Spirit for His followers.
He knew that His trial would be their trial. He knew that when He, the good Shepherd, was struck, “the sheep will be scattered” (
Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written:
‘I will strike the Shepherd,
And the sheep will be scattered.’
New King James Version (NKJV) The Holy Bible, New King James Version ©1982 by Thomas Nelson”>Mark 14:27). He prayed for them—and us—out of love and deep concern.
He is our Intercessor (
Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
New King James Version (NKJV) The Holy Bible, New King James Version ©1982 by Thomas Nelson”>Romans 8:34;
Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
New King James Version (NKJV) The Holy Bible, New King James Version ©1982 by Thomas Nelson”>Hebrews 7:25). He is at our side and can sympathize with our weaknesses, and He makes it possible for us to receive the mercy and help we need (
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
New King James Version (NKJV) The Holy Bible, New King James Version ©1982 by Thomas Nelson”>Hebrews 4:15-16). And He wants us to learn to be intercessors too.
Commands to pray for others
God gives us instructions to pray for others in several places in the Bible. The apostle James tells us to “pray for one another, that you may be healed” (
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
New King James Version (NKJV) The Holy Bible, New King James Version ©1982 by Thomas Nelson”>James 5:16).
The apostle Paul encourages us to intercede for Church members and ministers, “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains” (Ephesians 6:18-20).
Paul exhorts us “that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Timothy 2:1-2, emphasis added throughout).
Jesus Christ even commanded, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44, emphasis added).
Why does God want us to pray for others? Because intercessory prayer reflects God’s own character of outgoing love and mercy. God wants us to think like He does, and praying for others helps us to think beyond ourselves and to grow in compassion for others.Why does God want us to pray for others? Because intercessory prayer reflects God’s own character of outgoing love and mercy. God wants us to think like He does, and praying for others helps us to think beyond ourselves and to grow in compassion for others.
God compares prayer with sweet-smelling incense that pleases Him (
Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
New King James Version (NKJV) The Holy Bible, New King James Version ©1982 by Thomas Nelson”>Revelation 5:8).
Misconceptions about intercessory prayer
Intercessory prayer is not a numbers game. God does not have to wait until 10 or 20 or 100 people pray about a situation in order to intervene. Prayer is not a vote or petition that God has to act on if enough people “sign” it. Our prayers can’t force God to do anything. He can and does act when the time is best, whether one or a million pray about it.
Also, intercessory prayer is not something we should do to try to earn points with God so we can collect when something bad happens to us. Our motivation must be love—outgoing, unselfish concern.
What about the person seeking prayers? Can a person ask other believers to pray for him and then find it unnecessary to pray himself? No, we can’t delegate prayer. Prayer is part of our personal relationship with God, and so we must go to Him fervently ourselves, whether or not others are praying for us.
How to intercede in prayer
Prayer is a vital part of our communication with our loving Father in heaven. In the Bible He tells us how we can pray most effectively—in a way that pleases Him. Here are a few biblical principles for effective intercessory prayer. We should pray:
From the heart. (See our article “Prayer From the Heart” for more about this.)
Regularly. In what is often called the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus told us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11; see “The Lord’s Prayer”). We should pray for our needs and the needs of others every day.
In detail. God knows everything; but He wants us to come to Him with all our specific requests because He likes to hear from us and to know what is important to us. The Bible compares our prayers to incense, and God loves prayers that are like “sweet incense beaten fine” (
Then he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from the altar before the Lord, with his hands full of sweet incense beaten fine, and bring it inside the veil.
New King James Version (NKJV) The Holy Bible, New King James Version ©1982 by Thomas Nelson”>Leviticus 16:12).
With faith, knowing that God has all power and loves the people we are praying for. (For more about faith, see “What Is Faith?”)
With love. Godly love is totally unselfish and is the essence of God’s character (see “God Is Love”).
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
New King James Version (NKJV) The Holy Bible, New King James Version ©1982 by Thomas Nelson”>James 5:16 tells us “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
With a desire to help where we can. This might include physical help and encouragement. Cards, calls and visits might be helpful. It is not wrong to tell a person you are praying for him or her if it will help encourage the person.
Occasionally with fasting. When a situation is very serious or hits close to home for you, you may decide to fast and pray to draw close to God to present your supplication to Him. (Read more about fasting in our article “What Is Fasting?”)
Study biblical examples of intercessory prayer
The Bible gives many examples of people praying for others, and we can learn a lot by studying and meditating on these examples. Here are just a few:
Abraham interceded for the people of Sodom for the sake of his nephew Lot (Genesis 18:23-33).
Moses pleaded for God’s mercy for the sinning people of Israel (
And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people! Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation.”
Then Moses pleaded with the Lord his God, and said: “Lord, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, ‘He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to Your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’” So the Lord relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.
New King James Version (NKJV) The Holy Bible, New King James Version ©1982 by Thomas Nelson”>Exodus 32:9-14; Numbers 14:11-20).
Daniel made supplication to God for his people (Daniel 9:3-19).
The apostle Peter prayed for Dorcas (
At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them. Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them. But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive.
New King James Version (NKJV) The Holy Bible, New King James Version ©1982 by Thomas Nelson”>Acts 9:36-41).
The apostle Paul prayed for the people he served (
For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you.
New King James Version (NKJV) The Holy Bible, New King James Version ©1982 by Thomas Nelson”>Romans 1:9-10;
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.
New King James Version (NKJV) The Holy Bible, New King James Version ©1982 by Thomas Nelson”>10:1;
Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power
New King James Version (NKJV) The Holy Bible, New King James Version ©1982 by Thomas Nelson”>Ephesians 1:15-19; Philippians 1:3-11;
For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God, night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith?
Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you. And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.
New King James Version (NKJV) The Holy Bible, New King James Version ©1982 by Thomas Nelson”>1 Thessalonians 3:9-13).
For more about prayer, see the articles in the section “How to Pray.”
by Matthew (England)
I pray for forgiveness and that You give me the strength to forgive others; I pray also that You forgive them for their stubborness.
I humbly ask You for Strength to deal with the current situation I face, my future being so unsure makes my head and my heart ache and sometimes pride creeps in where Love should be. I pray that You soften the heart of others and make them realise how their actions affect our lives and that the people they listen to do not have their interest at heart. I pray that they return to the family and conquer their ignorance and pride.
I pray for a clear and vivid sign as to which direction I should take and to the decisions I make. I trust in You completely Almighty God and know that You will never steer me wrong.
Please give me the wisdom to appreciate Your signs and the understanding of the reasons behind the outcome. I will do what You deem best for me (and my children) and will continuously praise and thank You.
My works and deeds I shall do with Your Blessings and Grace and pray that you can see that my heart is sincere and my intentions are good.
Return to Prayers for Strength and Guidance
The best gift anyone can give to another is to pray for him or her. We live in a sinful world where bad things happen to people and people are tempted to sin. Praying for another person not only helps that person find God in the midst of trouble, but also helps us recognize the blessings that God gives us daily!
1 Timothy 2:1-5 says, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” We are exhorted to pray for others – including our country’s leaders, our authorities at work and elsewhere, our church leaders, our co-workers, friends, and family.
To answer the question, “How can I pray for others,” let’s take a look at prayers in the Bible. Notice the varying topics of biblical prayers:
- Wisdom and power: Ephesians 1:18-20 says, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength.”
- Strength and knowledge of God’s love: Ephesians 3:16-19 says, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
- Discernment: Philippians 1:9-11 says, “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.”
- Spiritual understanding and knowing God’s will: Colossians 1:9 says, “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”
- Steadfastness: 2 Thessalonians 3:5 says, “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.”
- Boldness in sharing the faith: Philemon 1:6 says, “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”
When reading those biblical prayers, you may think, “I can’t pray that fluently.” When praying, do not worry about how your prayer is phrased. Our communication to God should be just as you would talk to your friends or family. Pray for others whenever you think of them (at work, home, doing chores, in the car). Soon, praying for others will become a part of your daily life!
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
– We have all
and deserve God’s judgment.
, the Father, sent His only Son to satisfy that judgment for those who believe in Him.
, the creator and eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He
for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was
rose from the dead
according to the
. If you truly believe and trust this in your heart, receiving Jesus alone as your
, declaring, “
Jesus is Lord
,” you will be saved from
and spend eternity with God in heaven.
What is your response?
Yes, today I am deciding to follow JesusYes, I am already a follower of JesusI still have questions
Whether we are seeking forgiveness for our own sins or asking God to help us forgive others, prayer is the first place to start when seeking restoration and healing. The below prayers can help guide your thoughts and words as you seek being forgiven or help in forgiving others. It is a big step to seek out forgiveness and you have taken a bold step in faith!
Prayer to God for Forgiveness of Sins
Even while I encourage you to pray this prayer, I caution you that saying words alone will not save you. Prayer doesn’t save. Only Christ can save. But prayer can be a means of reaching out to the Lord in true saving faith. If you pray these words in faith, Christ will save you. You can be sure of that.
Lord Jesus, for too long I’ve kept you out of my life. I know that I am a sinner and that I cannot save myself. No longer will I close the door when I hear you knocking. By faith I gratefully receive your gift of salvation. I am ready to trust you as my Lord and Savior. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for coming to earth. I believe you are the Son of God who died on the cross for my sins and rose from the dead on the third day. Thank you for bearing my sins and giving me the gift of eternal life. I believe your words are true. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus, and be my Savior. Amen.
If you have prayed this prayer in sincere faith, you may want to put your initials by the prayer along with today’s date as a reminder that you have come to Christ in faith, trusting him as your Lord and Savior.
– Dr Ray Pritchard
Prayer for Forgiving Others
Dear Merciful Lord,
Thank you for your gift of forgiveness. Your only Son loved me enough to come to earth and experience the worst pain imaginable so I could be forgiven. Your mercy flows to me in spite of my faults and failures. Your Word says to “clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” (Col. 3:14) Help me demonstrate unconditional love today, even to those who hurt me.
I understand that even though I feel scarred, my emotions don’t have to control my actions. Father, may Your sweet words saturate my mind and direct my thoughts. Help me release the hurt and begin to love as Jesus loves. I want to see my offender through my Savior’s eyes. If I can be forgiven, so can he. I understand there are no levels to your love. We are all your children, and your desire is that none of us should perish.
You teach us to “let the peace that comes from Christ rule in our hearts.” (Col. 3:15) When I forgive in words, allow your Holy Spirit to fill my heart with peace. I pray this peace that only comes from Jesus will rule in my heart, keeping out doubt and questions. And above all, I am thankful. Not just today, not just this week, but always. Thank you for the reminder, “Always be thankful.” (Col. 3:15) With gratitude I can draw closer to you and let go of unforgiveness. With gratitude I can see the person who caused my pain as a child of the Most High God. Loved and accepted. Help me find the compassion that comes with true forgiveness.
And when I see the person who hurt me, bring this prayer back to my remembrance, so I can take any ungodly thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5) And may the confidence of Christ in my heart guide me into the freedom of forgiveness. I praise you for the work you are doing in my life, teaching and perfecting my faith. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
– Kristine Brown
Short Prayer to Forgive Others
Dear Lord, I thank You for the power of forgiveness, and I choose to forgive everyone who has hurt me. Help me set free and release them to You . Help me bless those who have hurt me . Help me walk in righteousness, peace, and joy, demonstrating Your life here on earth. I choose to be kind and compassionate, forgiving others, just as You forgave me . In Jesus’ name, amen.
– Debbie Przybylski
Short Prayer to Forgive Yourself
Father, today I ask forgiveness of all the negative and harmful words I have spoken about myself. I do not want to abuse myself in such a way again. Transform my thoughts and let me understand how marvelously you made me. Change my habits so I use my tongue to speak hope and favor upon my life. In Jesus’ name.
– Sarah Coleman
Matthew West – Forgiveness (Official Lyric Video) from matthew-west on GodTube.
Bible Verses About Forgiveness
Matthew 6:14-15 – For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Isaiah 1:18 – “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.
Micah 7:18-19 – Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
Mark 11:25 – And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
Colossians 3:13 – Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Ephesians 4:31-32 – Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Luke 17:3-4 – So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”
Read more Bible Verses on Forgiveness at BibleStudyTools.com
If you’ve been set free from sin and the hurt from others, comment below so that others can live in freedom through forgiveness too! Be a light to our online community and recieve encouragement for your own walk of faith.
This article is part of our larger Prayers resource meant to inspire and encourage your prayer life when you face uncertain times. Visit our most popular prayers if you are wondering how to pray or what to pray. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows your heart even if you can’t find the words to pray.
Prayer for Healing
Prayer for StrengthPrayer for ProtectionMorning PrayersGood Night PrayersThe Prayer of JabezShort PrayersThe Lord’s PrayerThe Prayer of St FrancisSerenity PrayerA Birthday PrayerSinner’s PrayerPrayer for ForgivenessPrayer for GuidanceIntercessory PrayerIrish Prayers and BlessingsMother’s Day PrayerPrayers for My HusbandPrayers for My SonPrayers for My DaughterPrayer Quotes
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