From “Westminister Dictionary of Theological Terms,” by Donald K. McKim.
intercession/intercessory prayer (Lat. Intercessio, ‘a coming between,” “intervention”). Prayer offered on behalf of others (1 Tim. 2:1).
prayer (From Lat. Precari, “to entreat”) Human approach to God and addressing God in praise and adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication and intercession. A consciousness of God’s presence, love, direction, and grace may be experienced.
I know these categories, but reading the definitions reinforces the value and importance of being aware of different kinds of prayer. How easy it is for me to jump right into intercessory prayer, although thanks to my mother’s emphasis on gratitude, I am quite accustomed to offering thanks. Starting with praise, adoration and confession, however, doesn’t come easily. I forget.
What about supplication, which according to the dictionary seems more general than intercession.
Supplication (From supplicare, “to kneel down,” “to pray) The act of praying for someone or something (Eph. 6:18; Phil. 4:6).
Maybe when I say I’m praying for people, my prayer is general and non-specific, supplication, whereas intercession is a plea to God to do something, something that I am quite specific about.