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Friday, December 7, 2012

"The Secrets of Intercessory Prayer" (Jack Hayford)

TITLE: Secrets of Intercessory Prayer, The: Unleashing God's Power in the Lives of Those You Love
AUTHOR: Jack Hayford
PUBLISHER: Bloomington, MN: Chosen Books, 2009, (176 pages).

Prayer is not simply asking for things. Prayer is a relationship. Prayer is not a one-way street where we ask, and God gives. It is a multifaceted expression of desiring God's will be done not just in our own lives, but also in the lives of others. Enters intercessory prayer and Jack Hayford's take on what it takes to be good intercessors. Calling it "secrets," Hayford shares passionately about praying for others, out of his deep biblical knowledge (he is a chancellor of King's University, LA) and his extensive pastoral ministry (he is founding pastor of Church on the Way).

Hayford shows readers that prayer is a partnership with God to pray well for other people. In prayer, we confront the brokenness and ask for wholeness. We ask God to bless people in a world of war and curses. We pray for those we love. We pray too for our enemies. We pray for God's healing to be done in a world splintered by the Fall of Man. What humans fail to do (good works), God does it through and through in restoration and healing. The motivation to pray is that God can do anything in His will and Name.

The chief secret of intercessory prayer is restored relationships. We pray against the spirit of division and separation, against deception, evil, and sinfulness. We learn to see how there are things man can do, and there are things only God can do. Prayer is about distinguishing the difference. Intercessory prayer is not simply about benefits for others. There are three promises we receive as well.

  1. Promise that God will work mightily in and through our household  
  2. Promise that our children will come into the Kingdom
  3. Promise of potential being fulfilled in God's time.
There are also "secrets" for reaching people. Such as praying for the path of biblical winsomeness, that we let our own lives be so transparent and unpretentious that others be won for God. We pray for wisdom in reaching older children, in better understanding of them, better listening ear, better consistency, better trust-building, better communications, and more. There are also tips for younger children and our relatives. Hayford lists four principles for us to be aware in our witness.
  1. Prayer is spiritual warfare for souls
  2. Prayer is asking God for wisdom in our conduct
  3. Prayer is asking God to guide our speaking
  4. Prayer is asking God to teach us sensibility and sensitivity in winning people for God.

Prayer is also comforting people. It is opportunity to trust God more. It also deals with tough situations when we do not feel like praying, or when we are to pray for people we dislike. There is also a section that teaches us two ways on how to pray without ceasing. The first way is to pray or learn to pray in EVERY situation. The second way is to sing. It is this second way that is most distinctive of Hayford, who himself has written hundreds, if not thousands of choruses. The book concludes with several helpful sample prayers.

My Thoughts

This book has been written in a way to encourage minimal analysis and maximum participation. Prayer is not an academic exercise but a practical endeavor. The chapters are kept short and the points succinct so that readers will find it easy to read and eager to follow. The illustrations and the stories in the book come out of Hayford's ministry exposure. They are wide-ranging, pastoral, and highly aware that prayer is not just about things in the world, but involves the spiritual realms. With practical steps, users know straightaway what to do about intercessory prayers. With encouraging words, readers are motivated to pray because intercessory prayers benefit not only others, but also ourselves. With gentleness, intercessory prayers bring about restoration of relationships and healing in the Name and Power of God. Regardless of our situation, there is a prayer waiting to be said, a longing to be heard, and a war to be fought. When Christians pray more and more, victory becomes more evident in the lives of believers.

The downside of this book is perhaps the title. Previously published as "Praying for those you love," the book's title has taken it on a self-help direction. Is there any "secret" in the first place? Why will something good be secretive in the first place? One danger of such a title is also the perception that this book is a magical how-to book that can unlock the mysteries of prayer. That is farthest from the truth. Hayford is simply providing a resource to equip believers and to encourage believers to pray more intently and more frequently. When one prays more and more, intercessory becomes less of a "secret" but more of a revelation of God in the lives of others and ourselves. Here is my suggestion for a better title. "Praying God's Will Be Done Through Intercessory Prayer," with the subtitles that include "for God, for others and for ourselves."

This is a very readable book. More importantly, it is an important prayer resource for all.

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Chosen Books and Graf-Martin Communications without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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