I don’t like to think about how many times I’ve told someone “I’ll be praying for you,” before only following through in a token way. And when I have prayed repeatedly for those I really care about– with no apparent results– I sometimes wonder why I don’t seem to be able to touch the heart of God.
All of these uneasy thoughts, however, still leave me wanting to pray more for others rather than less. And even though I admitted in an earlier post that I sometimes am unnerved by the thought that the prayers of others might be the reason for my higher thoughts and better moments, I am grateful for anyone who intercedes with the Father in my behalf. I also think I can see a logic of intercession that goes to the very heart of a relationship with Christ.
I wish you would test my thinking that,
Intercessory prayer is:
A sacrifice of faith especially when we don’t see any results. Could it be that, in those times– when we don’t see any apparent response from heaven– we actually have more of a chance to show our faith in the One who encourages us to pray for one another?
An expression of love even when we are lamenting the fact that we feel so helpless that all we can do is pray. Doesn’t intercessory prayer show that we are not just thinking about ourselves– but about one another– when we quietly, secretly, and sometimes publicly, pray for one another?
An offer of grace especially when we are inclined to thoughtlessly assume that people get what they deserve in life. Isn’t the gospel of Christ rooted in the belief that God wants to give us what we don’t deserve– through the sacrifice of Christ, through his prayers for us, and through our intercession for one another?
An affirmation of hope when those around us are in despair. Doesn’t intercessory prayer rise on wings of hope when it appears that all human options have been exhausted? Isn’t this the moment for which praying for one another means the most?
An awareness of interdependence when those who pray for others are, in turn, those who need the prayer of others. Isn’t such interdependence in prayer what we learn from the life of the Apostle Paul? He asked for the prayers of others (Rom 15:30-32) while also praying that others would have a growing sense of how much God loves them (Eph 3:14-21).
A discipline of endurance especially when we are inclined to think that, if God were going to answer our prayers for others, he would have done so by now. Doesn’t the Bible show that one of the things that pleases God is when his people don’t throw in the towel on their confidence in his love, his wisdom, and his perfect timing?
An anticipation of joy even though for the time being we are weighed down by our concern for others. Doesn’t the Bible show us that in our prayers for others we are asking not just for immediate relief, but for the joy of waiting together on the Lord– to give him a chance to show himself far more faithful, and good, and loving than we ever thought possible?
So now let me ask you. Do you share my struggle with intercessory prayer– and with a lack of visible results– while at the same time realizing that intercessory prayer is deeply rooted in the logic of faith, hope, love, grace, interdependence, endurance, and joy?