The Spiritual Powerhouse of Prayer Intercessors Part I

A few years ago, my spiritual director instructed me to have an intercessor praying whenever I give a talk or lead a retreat. He understood—as I do now—the power of intercessory prayer. We greatly underestimate the level of spiritual warfare, pushback, and distractions individuals experience when doing the things Our Lord asks them to do. The charism of intercession is a powerful weapon for building up the Kingdom of God within our parishes and communities.

The Holy Spirit gives a charism of intercession to certain members of the Mystical Body that’s sole aim is to strengthen, defend, and protect others within the Church community through prayer, so others can bear fruit for the Kingdom of God. All Christians are called to lives of deep prayer, but the Holy Spirit gives this charism to certain individuals to help aid other members of the Church in living the charisms and mission they have been given. All charisms work together in harmony for building up the Kingdom of God. They are gifts from God for His glory and Divine plan.

Intercessory prayer is a powerful weapon the Lord gives to His people. Religious communities have understood this for centuries. Many are structured with first order—priests—second order—nuns or sisters—and third order—laity. The nuns or sisters are often considered the intercessors for the sake of the religious order and the wider Church, although some religious orders live a charism of intercession regardless of vocation. The role of the intercessor is to seek the face of God for others who are, as St. Therese says, “in the strife.” The prayers of intercessors are used by Our Lord to unleash graces on others, and at times, to defend and protect them when they face spiritual battles and temptations.

When the Holy Spirit entrusted me with an intercessory charism in 2018, I didn’t fully understand it. There was an unfolding over time as I came to experience the power of this charism in action. Intercessors are not well understood today. The Church has downplayed both prayer and spiritual warfare to such an extent that many do not believe any of this to be possible. I know it’s possible because I live the Holy Spirit at work through this charism time and again, which has been confirmed numerous times.

What I did start to notice almost immediately was how the charism felt a lot like being in the trenches with Our Blessed Mother or, put another way, like being on the front line taking spiritual hits for the sake of others. I felt like I was standing in the breach. In the beginning, and still to this day, it manifests dramatically during Mass. I intercede for the priest who is celebrating Mass no matter where I am in the world. The most intense battles I experience in prayer are during Mass.

There is a spiritual logic to these experiences. The devil hates priests the most, and he actively seeks to lead priests to commit sacrilege as they celebrate the Mass. St. Teresa of Avila at one time observed a demon choking the priest celebrating Mass for her Carmelite community. St. Teresa’s intercessory prayers helped defend the priest from the demonic attacks he was suffering. An intercessor is able to prayerfully defend and battle for priests and others in their needs in a powerful way because of their prayerful union with Our Blessed Mother and the Holy Spirit through an intercessory charism.

It was this story from St. Teresa that led a priest friend to ask me if I had seen a demon choking him during daily Mass when, three years ago, I suddenly got up during the elevation and walked to the front of the Church. If there was a demon, I didn’t see him with my eyes. Instead, a fire had broken out among the candles lit for prayer; one of them had become a torch shooting flames into the air. I went quietly to put it out with sand located next to the candle stand and returned to my pew. The Lord called me to a different kind of intercession that day! It is also my daughter’s favorite story to tell people since she spotted the fire and alerted me to the danger.

Charisms are never for the building up of our own ego. They are gifts for the Church that are meant to be used and shared. The sign that someone does not possess a particular charism or that it has become disordered is when they make it about themselves. This does happen, so we must always be on guard against this problem and battle temptations to pride that come with gifts from the Holy Spirit. We must constantly keep before our eyes that He is ultimately working and nothing is done by our own power. The enemy always seeks to distort and destroy, so we must be on guard and seek to be humble. We know a genuine charism when it bears fruit over time and when it is confirmed in prayer and through others’ experiences.

How did I come to know this is a genuine intercessory charism from the Holy Spirit?

At first, I pondered in my heart and sought to live this calling as it manifested through prayer. I experienced power in prayer and had to learn—and I am still learning—what the Lord is doing with me. I made mistakes, which is a part of the process, but I know the Holy Spirit is working in a powerful way. Living a charism also requires refinement through trials and tribulations in order to teach us how to persevere in God’s mission for each one of us. It is not about spiritual consolations. It is about serving the Lord and His people.

I also started studying intercessory prayer and charisms, which gradually confirmed my own experiences. I heard someone else describe being an intercessor as “going into the breach” and that is exactly how it manifests for me. I knew through the Holy Spirit’s direction in prayer and Our Blessed Mother’s guidance that I was meant to be in the breach for others, especially priests and seminarians. When I live this charism fully, it seems as if the Lord made me for this purpose. It just fits.

After a prolonged period of praying quietly in this way, priests and seminarians started sharing with me after Mass or a particular event that they had been suffering brutal spiritual attacks. I would experience the exact same thing. When I knew there was a need, I would intentionally attend a Mass or event when they were struggling in order to intercede for them. I also intercede from miles or time zones away since the Holy Spirit is outside of time and space! Time and again, the attacks would lift as I interceded with Our Blessed Mother. Afterwards, we would marvel at God’s work through intercession. We compared notes, so to speak, and the confirmation that this is a genuine charism of the Holy Spirit came through these discussions.

One powerful confirmation came after interceding for someone in front of the Tabernacle while they participated in a particular event. Months later we talked about our individual experiences on that day. My description of what I experienced interceding for him was identical to his own experiences of spiritual warfare down to the smallest of details. We were both awestruck by the Holy Spirit in action. While I interceded for him, he experienced peace, holy confidence, and joy. He suffered no spiritual attacks during that time because I was taking hits for him in intercessory prayer. The Lord showed us both that day the power of an intercessory charism.

This charism is not only for interceding for clergy. It is a powerful gift and weapon from the Holy Spirit for building up our communities. This charism is meant to strengthen others as they minister and serve Christ. From homes for women in crisis pregnancy to serving the homeless to events and activities at parishes to renewal and evangelization efforts, the intercessory charism is a means by which the Holy Spirit pours out graces and defends and protects those “in the strife.” Next week, I will discuss how the discernment and utilization of this charism is essential for parishes moving forward in these difficult days.

Photo by Rahul Chowdhury on Unsplash


Constance T. Hull is a wife, mother, homeschooler, and a graduate with an M.A. in Theology with an emphasis in philosophy. Her desire is to live the wonder so passionately preached in the works of G.K. Chesterton and to share that with her daughter and others. While you can frequently find her head inside of a great work of theology or philosophy, she considers her husband and daughter to be her greatest teachers. She is passionate about beauty, working towards holiness, the Sacraments, and all things Catholic. She is also published at The Federalist, Public Discourse, and blogs frequently at Swimming the Depths.

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