The act of intercessory prayer comprises praying on behalf of others. For certain issues, you can be certain of God’s will as you intercede; such issues include healing, evangelism and discipleship. For these three activities, intercessory prayer is that spiritual strength driving the sword of the spirit in our hands as we strive side by side with Jesus Christ to: (1) restore and repossess His corrupted creation which He has set free from the bondage of evil (healing); (2) help the unsaved cross the finish line of salvation and become disciples of Christ as they are being nudged by the Prevenient Grace of God which calls and convicts every soul to be set free from the bondage of sin (evangelism) and (3) by training and right living, prevent the influence of sin from undermining the Christian walk of the saved (discipleship).
But God’s will on other issues is not always clear. This sometimes motivates Christians to offer something like the following prayer: “Almighty God, I’m not exactly sure of Your will on this matter, so I’ll simply pray that, whatever is Your will, it will be accomplished.” Such prayers can sound like subservient obedience to God but they are, in fact, spiritual claptrap. They essentially say, “Do whatever you want God. I will support Your decision. You have my vote. Does God need our vote? How would such a prayer cause a specific action of God to work in and through the particular network of constraints bringing some outcome into being and bring some succession of events to a different outcome than would otherwise have been?
Knowing precisely what to pray may require considerable thought and discernment. Consider the following example which is a common circumstance in churches. You hire a pastor who is adequate in the pulpit but he lacks vision, has poor administrative skills and is reluctant to take advice. He is not a team player. Do you pray that he will leave the church, either willingly or unwillingly, so you can hire a replacement with leadership skills? Or do you pray that he will learn to cooperate with church leadership and let others shoulder the responsibilities which he cannot handle? God expects you to discern the best path.