What’s the Difference Between Prayer and Intercession?

Have you ever gotten confused when people talk about prayer and intercession like they are two different things? Have you wondered what’s the difference between prayer and intercession? If so, stick around; this article is for you today!

Prayer and intercession have a lot in common, and they often overlap one another.

Think of a Venn diagram showing two different things. Each of the two things has its own characteristics, but some of them overlap in the middle like this:

Let me elaborate on that before we talk about the one HUGE difference between prayer and intercession:

Prayer is talking to God, and you can talk to God about anything. For example:

  • You can thank Him for what He has done.
  • You can praise Him for who He is.
  • You can tell Him how happy you are or how sad you are.
  • You can ask Him for help.
  • You can ask Him to work in your heart and change you.
  • You can ask Him to make you like Jesus.
  • You can ask Him to do things for you.

The list goes on and on. We can, and should, talk to God about everything!

But regarding the difference between prayer and intercession:

 

Prayer can be for yourself or anybody else. But praying for someone else would be called intercession.

In other words, you would pray without interceding when you’re just talking to God about yourself, your own life, or about Him–in worship, thanksgiving, and adoration. But intercession can begin to happen when you move past that and start to pray for God’s will to be done in someone else’s life.

The difference between prayer and intercession doesn’t stop there, though, because:

Prayer can be mild or strong, but intercession is spiritually violent.

What do I mean by “violent”? Certainly not physical violence or worldly violence. Prayer and intercession don’t involve hitting people or anything else like that!

Related: How to Become an Intercessor

But intercession IS spiritually violent.

Intercession is forceful. The actual definition of intercession in the Hebrew (Biblical) language is “to impinge, by accident or violence or by importunity.”*

What on earth does “impinge” mean? I had to look it up because I had no idea. 🙂 When I did, I found that “impinge” means, according to Dictionary.com, “To make an impression; have an effect or impact; to encroach; infringe; strike; dash; collide; come into violent contact with.”

So what is intercession?

Intercession brings one thing into violent contact with another thing so hard that it makes an impression.

What’s the “one thing” that does the contacting? You.

And what (or who) are you contacting? God.

What kind of an impression–or mark–are you trying to make? Simple! You’re trying to get His will done here on earth—in a situation, in another person, or in yourself.

So the actual definition of the word “intercession,” in modern English, is:

  • To collide with God violently until His will is enforced on the earth.
  • To stand in the gap between God and man–as a priest between Heaven and earth–and say, “Father God, Your Kingdom come! Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven!” … and
  • Continuing to do so until you see the results you know God desires on the earth.

Do you like that definition? If so, did you know that it actually gets better?

Get this:

The definition I just described—”to collide with God violently until His will is enforced on the earth”—is supported by the English definition of intercession. Dictionary.com defines “intercession” as:

“An interposing or pleading on behalf of another person. A prayer to God on behalf of another. In Roman History: the interposing of a veto, as by a tribune.”

Did you get that? In olden times, “intercession” was a legal term that meant “to intervene with a veto.” It was actually a governmental term. A governing body came together and decided yes or no about a particular thing, and whatever they said went.

Also, guess what? In Greek society, the same thing happened. A governing body came together and voted, and whatever they said became law.

The name of that governing body was the ekklesia.

And when Jesus said in Matthew 16:15-19 …

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:15-19).

… that He was going to build His church, He used the word “ekklesia” for “church.”

That’s right; He built the church to be His governing body … even in intercession.

When the church convenes together, we come together in order to govern. And when we govern, whatever we say in the Spirit realm HAPPENS.

That “governing” is largely done through intercession.

Remember that “intercession” means to collide with God about a particular thing until “on earth as it is in Heaven” HAPPENS. It means we strike the throne of grace–striking God Himself–over and over until we make such a mark that God moves heaven and earth for us.

So intercession has governmental power.

Prayer is talking to God, period. Prayer can involve talking to Him about anything. But when we specifically talk to Him for others, standing in the gap for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done on the earth, that’s intercession.

Those prayers for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth can be about anyone:

  • You can pray and intercede for your sister to give her life to Jesus. That’s Father’s will on the earth.
  • You can pray and intercede for your husband to live holy. That’s Father’s will on the earth.
  • You can pray and intercede for your nation to be reformed and for revival to come. That’s Papa’s will on the earth.
  • You can pray and intercede for someone’s finances, health family, children, marriage, ministry, or anything else.

As long as you’re praying for God’s will to happen in someone else’s life, and as long as you’re doing so with spiritual violence–making a mark on God with your repeated prayer strikes–that is intercession.

But wimpy prayer is not intercession.

 

I’m not bashing anyone by saying this; it’s just that the Biblical definition of “intercession” requires that you come into violent contact with God in order to actually intercede. (See the definitions I listed above!) So if you’re praying wimpy prayers, half-hearted prayers, or only occasional prayers, and your prayers make no mark on God and get nothing done, that’s not intercession.

And to take this even further, I would like to add:

True intercession will cost you something.

You make a mark on God–taking your prayer from mere “conversation” to real intercession–when the praying person becomes willing to sacrifice in order to get their prayer answered.

Sometimes that means you, as the intercessor, feel the burden so much that you can’t stop praying. The depth of the burden forces you to pound God with your prayers until He moves on the other person’s behalf.

Sometimes it means you sacrifice by getting up early, staying up late, and cutting out other activities in order to intercede day and night for someone or something–even if it hurts.

Or, sometimes, you become willing to BE the answer.

You actually become willing, if God required it, to lay your life, person, or property down to see God’s Kingdom manifest in the situation about which you’re praying.

One of the teachers from whom I have learned so much is Lou Engle. He is an apostle, prophet, and general of prayer. And he teaches on intercession by saying that an intercessor becomes willing to lay down their life as a roadway for God to ride in on so He can accomplish His will on the earth.

Powerful, huh?

Regardless of the method you use to intercede, intercession will cost you something.

  • Intercession will cost you your fleshly comfort, your easy way of living, and your ability to be fine with the status quo.
  • It may cost you physical hunger as you fast and pray.
  • It may cost you physical fatigue as you pray when you would rather sleep.
  • It WILL cost you time when you could be doing other, flesh-gratifying things.
  • It may cost you money if the Lord leads you to sow prophetic seeds into or over someone’s life as an act of intercession.
  • It could cost you friends if your friends don’t understand your need to be alone with God, and to seek the things of God …
  • … and so much more.

But building a lifestyle of intercession is worth every cost, because intercession gets things done.

It’s not that prayer, without intercession, doesn’t get things done. It does. But prayer alone, without intercession, is between your and God. It’s good and beautiful and necessary.

Intercession is for the world.

It’s for the inheritance of Christ. We intercede for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Both prayer and intercession are necessary. Both can look very similar. But the difference between prayer and intercession is:

  1. that intercession is for others besides yourself, and
  2. intercession is spiritually violent and forceful.

You can pray a wimpy prayer if you want to, but you can’t pray wimpy prayers and try to intercede. Intercession means you pray STRONGLY, and you strike against God with your intercession until things change on the earth.

Now that you know this about the difference between prayer and intercession, do you still want to be an intercessor?

I hope you do. I hope this post fires you up. I hope it makes you hungrier than you’ve ever been to move in POWER through intercession.

If it does, would you please leave a comment below and tell me so?

Also, be sure you check out the next post in this series, too, because I’m going to share some things that will help you KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that you’re called to be an intercessor if you are willing to take up the call.

*Hebrew definition: Strong’s 6293: “paga /paw-gah/; to impinge, by accident or violence or by importunity.”

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54 Comments

  1. Wow! The timing of this in my life is perfect! Thanks for all of the sacrifices you make and the revelation you share! Praise Abba!

    1. The bog on prayer vs intercession was really powerful! It affirmed what I was called to do & how I need to improve by calling in God’s will in my intercessory prayers. Thank you for your wonderful research!!!

    2. Lundi Lududi says:

      Hi Jamie,
      Thank you and bless you for the Wisdom, Revelation and Strength you are sharing and giving us, I feel so encouraged in being an effective and great intercessor, with greater understanding of the end-result being God’s Will manifested on earth as we continue to come boldly to His Throne of grace.
      Thank you and be blessed beyond measure.

      1. Leslie Blackmon says:

        Thank you for this timely article!

    3. Lydia Dragone says:

      This is very timely in my life I’m Praying for my son he’s in a relationship that’s not good. I’m so burdened all I do is pray for him to be saved and see the spirit realm. While this clarifies so much it’s also a bit frightening because of the weight of being an intersesor.

      1. 🙏🏽May you remember and know that God also carries the brunt of weight with your and he will lighten your burden! (Psalm 55:22 Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let
        the righteous be shaken.)

    4. James Johnson says:

      The biggest problem I have with intercession is keeping the fire in the prayer. After years of trying, and praying in the middle of the night for hours and getting nothing, I am growing weary in well doing. I have fasted till I am too weak to function and prayed till I don’t get anything much done, but I still don’t have power, means, or restoration of the republic. May God have mercy on us all. In Jesus’ Name! Amen!

  2. This. Is awesome. Deep calleth unto deep.
    The Lord continue to bless you Jamie.

    1. Wow wat a blessing fr being a encouragement wen times are tough an a teaching dat we earnestly seek bless u keep going gods on the throne luv u I pray God uses me in being a strong warrior

  3. Thank you Jamie. My heart’s cry to God is to make me an EFFECTIVE intercessor. I want to be used to bring heaven to earth, especially in my family and their families, friends, co-workers the Pastors and ministry where He planted me.

  4. Wow Jamie. I am blessed. So fired up. Before I prayed less for others. Always about myself. Now you have made me understand the power of intercessory prayer. I pray God makes me a great Intercessor. God bless you greatly.

  5. My mind is brighthen up for the spiritual elaboration betwen prayer and intercession. . I am very much encouraged to be one of the intercessors. I know now what i am supposed to stand for in my church and to encourage every faithful worker to carry out the Ministry of Intercession.

    Thank you vey much. May God continue to reveal His thoughts to you. I praise God in your life.

  6. This was great! Bought about a lot of understanding to me. Be Blessed Jamie!

  7. Thank you so much I want to be a intercession and I am yielding myself and commitng myself today and always.

  8. Roxana Alvarado says:

    Loved this article and couldn’t come on a better day! Today with a group of other women we start a 21 day period of prayer and fasting to intercede for different things. Thank you so much and may God keep blessing you.

  9. Such a great post, Jamie! I myself have been interceding for 3/4 years now in a situation where God has prophetically promised my future husband to me — I’m interceding for God to positively intervene in our relationship (to start it up again, and to bring His will to earth as it is in Heaven). This post was highly encouraging to me. Happy New Year!

    1. Hi Samantha! I’m glad you are praying. I would really encourage you to pray specifically not for a person by name–not for someone you know–but to pray for the husband God has promised you without telling God who it is. Sometimes our flesh can get in the way, but when you pray this way, it safeguards you against any witchcraft prayers or mis-hearing. Because if you heard right, then yay! You’re praying for your divinely-appointed husband; and if you didn’t hear right about the particular person you believe may be the one, then you’re still praying rightly. It’s like prayer insurance. Something to consider. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  10. Ockie Coetzee says:

    Hi Jamie, Thanks. So so true what you are posting. I am in. It is time for things to move.
    Could not come at a better time. Currently fasting. Thank you

  11. Wow Jamie WOW
    Thank you for this teaching

  12. I want to br an intetcessor..I want to touch the heart of God..

  13. Pamela Haynes says:

    Thank you Jamie for teaching God’s truth. Very powerful Word and exactly what I needed today. Tonight is women’s prayer at my church and I believe this teaching will better equip me to intercede for others. God bless you for your obedience.
    In the Love of Christ,
    Pam

    1. Babylin Salazar says:

      Thank you.I want to be an intercession. Praying to God to use me in all the people who need to intercede. Godbless Jamie

  14. Jowanda Lucas says:

    Thank you, I have been praying for others I am excited to learn more on how to intercede in prayer

  15. I’m very thankful for the article. Its really powerful and encouraging.

    Thank you.

  16. Thank you, Jamie, for sharing what God has for us. This teaching helped me to put into words what goes through my heart.

  17. Thank you for the post. I am and believe in being a prayer warrior!! May God be with you and guide you always as you teach others.

  18. Leah Harper says:

    This is very informative. Thanks for clarifying.

  19. Pat Sharkey says:

    That is really helpful….want to read the next post you mentioned.

  20. Simbongile Mthiyane says:

    I’m so moved by this article. I will share this at the home cell service this Thursday. This is powerful, my questions about the difference of these two are answered.

  21. Thanks so much!!! You just did an awesome job doing my homework for me! I googled the difference between and prayer and intercession and found this. It’s perfect. My Bible school teacher didn’t quite satisfy my answer but this was just the study I was looking for. You presented a great insight. This explains why I felt intercession usually involves emotions, based on my experience (not a half-hearted prayer/whimpy prayer). May God continue to bless you with strengthen and wisdom to reach many lives with your ministry. God bless you and thank you. I love this post! I look forward to reading more of your material.

  22. Diengybrown says:

    God bless u for this piece been so eager to no d difference cos I have been interceding seriously for my church

  23. Danitra Sheffield says:

    I AM AN INTERCESSOR. I was just given the ASSIGNMENT to LEAD our CHURCH INTERCESSORS. As a Leader I wanted to STUDY what it means to be an intercessor IN AWAY so that I can take this Ministry into another delusional relationship with GOD. I wanted them to understand their POWER within by the Holy SPIRIT and just How Urgent our ASSIGNMENT is. Thank you and good bless you. Keep me IN PRAYER as I lead thy KINGDOM COME THY WILL BE DONE. ✝️🛐📖

    1. Danitra Sheffield says:

      Not delusional but dimensional

    2. Hey Danitra, congratulations on your new assignment! If you’re wanting to become a powerful intercessor, please please read Rees Howells, Intercessor by Norman Grubb. Also, I really encourage you to get my 3-part audio MP3 teaching on the Ministry of the Intercessor, available here on my Gumroad store.
      Cindy Jacobs’ book Possessing the Gates of the Enemy is fantastic, too. An intercessor’s handbook.
      Blessings to you!

  24. Ok so after reading this, turns out Ive been doing it all along…totally unaware (till recently with your help) that its even “a thing”!! God is leading me to my breakthrough on the current situation.. Not sure if I can handle more than one intercession at a time..but when I come out the other side & see my victory here, and His promises delivered..that will fire me up to take on more. I can totally do this… thank you Jamie!!!

    1. Hi! Oh my goodness my name is also Amanda and I totally could have wrote this myself! Im excited for victory (yours and mine!😃) and just yesterday in my head I was saying what do I do after??..like Im gonna need another assignment. Im far from done! So your comment totally got my attention! I stand with you praying in agreement as breakthrough comes forth in Jesus mighty name!

  25. Cecilia Ramirez says:

    Wow! Great timing releasing this! Thank you for your teachings & obedience Jamie! May He bless you Indeed!!! Thank You Father !

  26. Linda Stanford says:

    Thank you Jamie for this message. I want to be an intercession for my family and specifically for my Brothet and a very important need. I prayer God will help me to be that which I need to be to do this effectively.

  27. Jamie this word has helped me- I didn’t even know that I was praying in intersession until I read this today/ as I have been feeling the deep
    Desire and willingness to pray in a way I never have before.
    Not for myself but for a few other people, and one person in specific
    (for my husband.) and as I read I realized I have been praying in intercession firmly this past couple weeks. I feel a tug from Papa God… and I know He is bringing about something good.

    I have been praying for a while about God revealing the gifts he has given to me… what am I Father? Am I an encourager? An intercessor?

    I am still such a spiritual baby I still do not know my gift/gifts. Intercede for me on this matter!
    I want to be the person who intercedes and shakes heaven and earth I know and fully believe Father Gods hands are all over me and my life, and that He can use me to break through in others lives.

    Praise be to God for all the blessings coming from this word

    Thank you Jamie

  28. Marie Whyland says:

    Dearest Jamie I am sitting by my husband’s side now for 49 days praying for Jesus to heal him from multiple complications from heart to all his damaged organs. We have been married for 58 years. He is not a believer!! Thank you for the encouraging message to storm the gates of heaven with prayer and supplication. I will continue to intercede on his behalf no matter what the cost to me. Your prayers would be greatly appreciated. Love you!

  29. Thank you for this article. I feel motivated to intercede on the behalf of others again. It’s been a while, but I’m grateful for this push to get back on my post.God is good and knows exactly what we need to get going again. Thanks again.

  30. I really enjoyed this blog! God bless you, expand your ministry, and continue to reveal mysteries of the word to you. Thank you very much!!

  31. Hallelujah! This is so powerful! Lord help me to become what you want me to be. I ask you Jamie and brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for the Holy Spirit to direct my steps so that I could intercede for others. In Jesus name I pray.

  32. I’ve been called out in churches and by friends that God has a plan for me. I’ve always felt called to do more to be more. Even when I rebelled I felt him calling me. I know I was meant to intercede. I realized 3 days ago that this is what I was always meant to be doing. Thank you for this post today. I needed to know exactly what it means for me and you made it so clear. Thank you Jamie for being you! God bless you!

  33. Wow! Thankyou for this as it really confirms what the Lord has been teaching me about fasting and prayer.
    I just wish I wouldn’t get so discouraged and feel like giving up though !

  34. Elizabeth Tuinidau says:

    HI! I just received this great message this morning.It is the first time for me to read it.Was reading all the comments and realize that some of the comments are from 2019 -Jan 2020.Didn’t even know that it was from last year.But actually,i thank God that He showed me this message.I am an intercessor,love to pray and intercede because i am a prayer warrior.Always go around and doing my work praying in tongues.But i came across the word “whimpy prayer”-some of our or my prayers are no mark to God,because we or I doing it wrongly.There was no answer for the prayers.I was for such a thing for years but still no response..I am still thanking God for His Love towards me.Thank you for the great message.

  35. Linda Stanford says:

    Thank you for this message Jamie. I’m trying to be an intercessor now and pray that I’m doing it the way it needs to be done. Please pray that I am. Thank you

  36. Jackie Hoffman says:

    Truly amazing. I attended two “ Awaken” services weeks ago. I was prayed over and received a calling to be an intercessor and gatekeeper. I never knew what an intercessor was but I’m been hungered to learn more. I’m to make a prayer room or close to have my quiet time with the Lord. I always loved to talk to the Lord and would pray diligently. Your information has helped me to understand what I didn’t realize. Many years ago I told a friend that I know my Gods got something greater for me but I never knew what till now! I prayed on the way to both services and my prayers were brought up during the services both days. More confirmation on intercessor.

    1. I will need God’s help to do this, but I am willing Lord.

  37. Thank you for this article! 🙏🏽🌟

  38. Wow!! I grew up in church and have heard about prayer all my life. But it was never taught HOW to pray. I have been feeling a huge burden for my spouse and boys. I never have experienced this, and I came to this article to learn about interceding. You not only taught me that, but you taught me that what I have been doing since I was 12 was praying. And what I have been wanting to learn was intercession. Thank you so much for this article. I am 41 years old and feel like I have been encouraged and uplifted in my walk with the Lord. Wow!!! That’s all I can say. Wow!!!

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