Monday, June 6, 2016

Intercessory Prayer

The Gospels tell us that Jesus prayed for others.  He prayed for children.  He prayed for the sick.  He prayed for his disciples.  He prayed for his enemies.  He prayed for the world.  This is one thing we know about Jesus—his was a life filled with intercessory prayer.  We find this true in the life of the Apostle Paul.  Turn to any one of the epistles, Thessalonians, Corinthians, Romans or Philippians and you will find Paul praying for people.

Just the other day someone asked me to pray for someone in their family.  I said I would “hold her in my bundle” which is my way of saying that I would pray for her.  I had no idea what her problem was.  It really doesn’t matter.  I can still pray for her.  But why pray for her?  What kind of God would withhold good things from people because there was not someone around at the proper time to ask God to do so?  Does a God of love have to be begged to act in love?  What about the many in our world who have no one to pray for them?  Does God ignore their needs because there is no one praying for them?  Of course not!  

God desires a deep personal relationship with all his children.  God wants us to open our hearts to him without fear or scruples, just as a father wants his son to share what goes on in his young life.  Prayer  is not telling God what to do.  That would be presumptuous.  Prayer is telling God what we think we or someone else needs, always adding, “if it be thy will.”  (Aren’t you glad some of the prayers you’ve uttered have not been answered?) Elton Trueblood wrote, “Most of the problems relating to God’s will are already solved when we see prayer not as an effort to change it, but as loving communion which may help in the promotion of that will, whereas without the prayer it might be frustrated….Whatever God’s power may be, we are needed, and never more so than when we pray.”

Who do you have in your bundle this morning?  The real reasons we do not pray may lie deeper within ourselves than in our concept of God.  It may be that we do not pray for another because we do not love enough or care deeply enough.  It may be that we cannot get outside our own puny selves long enough to intercede for another.  I wonder, this morning, if there is anything more important in this world than praying for that world and those who inhabit it.

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