“The telephone call came about 8 o’clock in the evening. Brother Craft and I were asked to pray for a friend who had just been taken to the hospital. We went through all the emotions from shock to sadness then finally to determination. We felt the challenge in our spirit. We had to touch God for this need.”
After our time of prayer which lasted several weeks, I wrote down the principles I learned that may be of importance to you. In the following paragraphs, I would like to share these so you will have guidelines that may help you pray more effectively in the time of crisis, which could include family trouble, illness, or even a life and death situation. Every crisis has its own elements, but hopefully these guidelines will help you answer the question of how to pray when the need arises.

Before I comment on the principles learned, I would like to establish what crisis intercession is not. It is not lightly asking God to bless your friend before going to bed at night, nor is it a one minute prayer in the church service, nor is it talking about it to others with sympathetic tones. A crisis is a turning point when our prayer can make a difference. It is warfare, and you are on the front lines. Real crisis intercession allows the Holy Spirit to pray through you with groaning and tears. When you enter into this kind of prayer with all the energy of your heart, soul, and mind, you can change things in harmony with the will of God.

Important Elements of Crisis Intercession

To be effective in crisis intercession, you must love those for whom you are praying. Your faith works by your love, and as you love, you sacrifice whatever is necessary to get an answer from God. Your love holds you in continual prayer and is the bond that keeps you focused. When you pray for someone you don’t know well, pray for her as you would want her to pray for you in the same situation.

If you are asked to intercede for a special need, ask questions so you may know the exact need. Pray directly for the need by praying specifically. Don’t ask God to bless and leave it at that. After you understand the need, you may experience various strong emotions as you begin to pray. Fear may even try to overwhelm your faith as you realize the enormity of the need. But as you continue to pray, you can move from paralyzing emotions to a planned, concentrated effort to confront the crisis by the power of your prayer.

Intercession seems to fall into three stages: Determination, transition, and the waiting stage. The first is characterized by faith. This is the “I know God will answer” stage. The second is characterized by reassessment. This is “I still believe God will answer” stage, and the third is characterized by hope. This is the “I wait in hope” stage.


In the beginning stage, you are determined, strong, and full of faith. You feel a quiet confidence that God will hear your cry. In the beginning of your intercession, seek God for a promise to stand on. Choose a Bible promise that pertains to your situation, or ask God to give you a word for your situation. As you continue to pray and build your faith on this word, you will also receive direction from the Holy Spirit. Record this so you may remember the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. If you don’t see the answer to your petition after praying for while, you can use the promise and directions to renew your faith for continued prayer.

In our intercessions for the aforementioned need, we held fast to a word from God that He is a righteous judge. We also had a witness that God had called us to intercession because many of us who were praying interceded with the same burden on the same day. If you are part of a prayer team, it helps to know what others are experiencing in prayer. Usually the person who asks you to pray will keep you informed of what is happening and what others are hearing from God. It is as though each person receives a piece of a puzzle which forms a complete picture. If all the intercessors are receiving the same message that God is going to move and answer your prayer, this strengthens your faith.

It could also happen that the intercessors all hear another voice. On one particular day of prayer, several of us were told by lying spirits that our prayers were ineffective. I wrote in my prayer journal:

“Lying spirits came to me today accusing me of not knowing how to pray and that my prayers were ineffective. I wrestled with that a few minutes then came another voice which said that even with all this praying, I was getting nowhere.”

I suddenly realized what was happening and rebuked them, and they left. Immediately the Holy Spirit spoke and reaffirmed my praying. He said my prayers were effective in Heaven and accepted by Him. When I learned that others experienced the same thing, I did not feel so intimidated.

Satan will try to distract you. Learn to recognize the voice that always brings confusion and tries to distract you from your purpose. The fact that he tells you your prayer is ineffective is a good sign that you are winning some victories in the Spirit. There may even be other disruptions during this time, but keep your mind and spirit focused on the person or situation for which you are praying.

It is important to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit as you pray. If a spirit of heaviness grips your heart, find a place to pray and follow that burden. When the Holy Spirit begins to intercede through you with groaning, you do not know what is happening in the Spirit, but continue to pray until it lifts. When you travail in the Spirit, you may be tearing down evil influence or removing hindrances to God’s will being done. You may not always discover what your travail has accomplished, but you can be sure that God is using your travail to remove spiritual barriers.


In the beginning stage of prayer, you may feel a great anointing. This can be interpreted as a sign that you’ve got your answer. Don’t stop here. This is the anointing you need to continue on. Don’t just pray to feel good about God’s power and presence; press on into the battle and pray until you get an answer.

After many days of prayer, you may become spiritually and emotionally drained. One morning as I began to pray, the scripture came to me, “Be not weary in well doing, you shall reap if you don’t faint.” This gave me courage to continue in prayer. Another day, I began my prayer with, “Lord, I’m so tired.” Immediately the Holy Spirit whispered, “Pray tired.” And so I did. On another occasion, He instructed me to pray with confidence and faith. I had developed a tension in my praying that grew out of anxiety. After this, I continued to pray with faith and trust in His leading.

On the 18th day of prayer I wrote in my journal:

“Encouragement came from the Lord today. I got up early to pray. I was so tired. I didn’t even know where to start to pray. I thought I had prayed it all. I went to the Word to find a beginning place for prayer. The scripture I found was, “Continue in prayer and watch in the same with thanksgiving.” Thank you Lord for a boost in the right direction.”

One important thing to remember is to keep energized. After two weeks of intercession, I recognized I needed new strength to continue. I broke up my daily prayer into two sessions. In the morning, I worshiped, read the Word, and renewed my faith. I sat quietly in God’s presence without strain or struggle as He ministered strength to me. In the evening prayer session, I continued in intercessions for the need. In this way, I found I could continue in prayer with spiritual strength.

Waiting in Hope

God will signal your spirit that you have broken through the spiritual barriers and that it is now time to wait on Him in praise and thanksgiving. Scripture reminds us that “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

After you receive this assurance, you know it is time to wait with patience for the promise. As you wait, there is a tendency to drop the prayer burden. Albeit in a different way, continue nonetheless to support the person for whom you are interceding. Take them with you into praise and worship. This will keep you focused as you wait and continue to watch for the answer. As you wait, you may become discouraged when you don’t immediately see a change in the situation, but when you remember the times the Holy Spirit prayed through you, you will be encouraged to keep believing. He does not lead you into travail unless He plans to answer. In the beginning of your intercession, faith empowers you to ask, but in the waiting time, hope empowers you to wait on God.

I hope these guidelines will help you to pray more effectively in your next time of intercession. If you desire to be an intercessor, the best preparation is to remain faithful in prayer, learning how to follow His leading in prayer. There is an element of the unknown in intercessory prayer. Your past prayer experience gives you confidence to step into this unknown. When David faced the giant, who was an unknown in his life, he remembered the times he killed the lion and the bear. Fortified with this confidence, he stepped out to meet the giant. If he had not won the lion and bear victories, he would have lacked confidence to step out onto the battlefield. This principle is also true in our prayer experience. If we remain faithful in prayer, we can have a base of past prayer victories from which to work. Be prepared in prayer, and when crisis comes, you can take up the smooth stones of prayer and slay the giant with confidence.

“Hear my cry, O God; Give heed to my prayer” (Psalm 61:1 NASB).

~Cheryl Craft