PRAYER OF INTERCESSION
The few thoughts last week about Prayer Chains and Chains of Prayer led me to another form of prayer called Intercession.
To pray for others seems perfectly natural: indeed it would be strange not to pray for people we love especially perhaps when they are in difficulty of any kind. It is also solidly rooted in the New Testament:
“We never fail to remember you in our prayers” (Colossians 1:3)
“We pray continually that our God will make you worthy of his call” (2 Thessalonians 1:11)
“Every time I pray for all of you, I pray with joy” (Philippians 1:3).
What Paul in doing in his many references to praying for others is imitating Jesus himself. We learn in the letter to the Hebrews (7:25) that Jesus “ is living for ever to intercede for all who come to God through him”.
Jesus is the one great intercessor. All who live in him, pray in him; all who live in him find that his style of prayer surfaces in their lives: we share Jesus’ life of intercession for others. In his letter to the Romans, Paul tells us that Jesus “not only died for us –he rose from the dead and there at God’s right hand he stands and pleads for us” (8:34). We take up our stand with Jesus and plead for others.
Of course prayer is more than intercession for others; but it should always include some intercession for others. I find it helpful to have a small list of very urgent prayer requests: for a relative who is pregnant with her fifth child, for a close friend who has just died, for a parishioner going for medical tests, for a family devastated by a suicide.
I change the list every week –new urgent intentions are brought to my attention all the time.
Prayer is like a current –a stream- of grace . When we pray for someone that current can somehow communicate itself to the person prayed for. How often people will say that the knowledge that many people were praying for them really helped them in a crisis.
When you next make a prayer list include yours truly,
Fr Sean Wales C.Ss.R.