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The Mystery of Intercession

Why, at unexpected moments, do I have a profound sense of the Lord’s presence? Why do I wake some mornings with a song of praise and worship running through my mind that seems to have come out of nowhere? Why after times of discouragement does my heart turn back to Christ?

The thoughts are my own. But where have they come from? Am I enjoying this sense of God’s presence because of my own initiatives, or because someone has prayed for me?

Sometimes these thoughts unnerve me. I waver between faith and doubt, somewhere between gratitude and insult.

Do I want to enjoy the presence of God as a result of someone else’s prayers? How can I rely on someone else’s prayers and at the same time acknowledge responsibility for my own relationship with the Lord? Who gets the credit? Who’s in control? What value is there in my own choices if my very consciousness is being shaped by others’ willingness to bow their head before the Father in my behalf?

Then I doubt my doubts. If my own heart struggles with the thought of intervening grace, do I yet understand what first moved my heart to hear and believe? If I am irritated by the implications of grace, what hope do I have apart from the kind of intercession that brought Peter back to faith? (Luke 22:31-32). If I’m focused on being the source of my own goodness, what hope do I have apart from the prayers of people who lift me to the One who has freely given me everything I have? (Ephesians 3:14-21).

Life in Christ is a mystery. We are responsible for our own actions, while being assured that we do not love, obey, or trust God apart from the undeserved prayers and help of the Lord, His Spirit, and His people.

He has made us interdependent on one another, dependent on Him, and hopeless apart from that for which we can take no credit. He has urged us to share in one another’s growth and joy by holding one another up before His throne of grace.

Our flesh longs for merit. Our life depends on grace.

Once the ripples of our questions and the waves of our doubt reach the shore of God’s goodness, they find solid ground. There we realize that virtue is found not in initiating love but in receiving it; not in believing in God, but in believing Him. All that is of merit flows from His favors received– and who knows– to what extent from the prayers of friends, or strangers, in Jesus’ name.

Am guessing I’m not the only one who has such thoughts. Can we talk about?

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11 Responses to “The Mystery of Intercession”

  1. brownsfan1642 says:

    Honesty is always a little unnerving. We want everything to be neatly packaged and easily embraced—or rejected. But, since our God is greater than our imaginations, He constantly deals with us in surprises that catch us off guard. His grace is sufficient—even when I want to go it alone on my own strength. Thanks for honestly wrestling with the mystery, Mart.

  • hal.fshr says:

    In our discussion on the mystery of intercession, I am reminded of Peter being freed in answer to prayer.

    “Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church”(Acts 12:5).

    Yet when Peter actual was delivered from prison through the intervention of an angel, those praying had trouble beleiveing it.

    “And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer. When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. But they said to her, “You are beside yourself!…” (Acts 12:13-15).

    Intercession carries with it surprises.