In his book The Secrets of Intercessory Prayer: Unleashing God’s Power in the Lives of Those You Love, Pastor Jack Hayford taps into the unfulfilled longing many of us have to see our unsaved family members and friends come to faith.
Built on the foundational ideas that God loves our loved ones more than we do, and that there are discoverable principles of partnership with God, he tackles the subject of how to intercede for them from many angles. In 12 short but loaded chapters he discusses subjects like what prayer accomplishes in God’s scheme of things, praying as husband and wife, praying for children, praying comfort for each other, even how to pray for those we’d rather not pray for!
Hayford’s teachings are grounded in Scripture. Sometimes he takes a Bible character and extracts principles about prayer from his or her story. For example, in his chapter “Praying for Someone You Don’t Want to Pray For,” he points to the example of Samuel who promised the Israelites he’d continue to pray for them even after they hurt his feelings by spurning his leadership and asking for a king (1 Samuel 12:23). At other times he roams the Bible, collecting texts from the Old and New Testaments for us (as in “Basic Promises to Apply”).
Of course Hayford also shares stories from his life and ministry—incidents which add color and show what the principles he’s talking about look like when transposed into everyday living.
Whatever approach he uses, I found Hayford’s teaching on prayer insightful and encouraging. Especially encouraging was the chapter “Doing Your Part and Letting God Do His.” In it he reminds us that there is only so much we can do to reach our loved ones; the final results are in God’s hands, but will be affected in a big way by our prayers for them:
“Praying for those we love is not a substitute for their need to hear God’s word of truth—the gospel. But many of those we find resisting already know it, and for them the ‘pushiness’ of a relative deepens resistance …. While it is painful to see a loved on persist in sin, especially if it is self-destructive, God’s Spirit has spoken or is speaking to them about their need to turn to Him. Our prayer for them is pivotal in this regard. But it is also our job to leave God’s part for Him to achieve as only He can.” (pp. 47, 48)
Other chapters that were especially meaningful are the ones about how to pray for one’s children, and how to pray without ceasing. In Hayford’s life, singing plays a large part in that latter.
The Secrets of Intercessory Prayer will help you pray for loved ones with sharpened focus and strengthened faith. It would make a valuable addition to the prayer section of any home or church library.