Monday, March 21, 2011

Intercession in Progress

I think I have always been intrigued by intercessory prayer. I think of it most often as what the Holy Spirit does on my behalf when I am so burdened by something that I don't even know what or how to pray. He does it for me. He intercedes for me. But I also love the aspect of intercessory prayer as related to praying for others. I used to think of it only in those terms...merely praying for someone else. And I would marvel at the fact that God actually hears and answers prayers for us when someone else prays. It is amazing to me the power of prayer. But I have come to realize that intercession is way more than just praying for someone. Although I had thought often of this action, I couldn't quite put into words what I understood of it. Recently, I was able to attend a ladies' retreat at my church and our speaker talked about 'The Ministry of Silence'. She used Job as a classic example and how his friends (trying to be helpful) pointed blame at him and were just sure that he had done something to provoke God's wrath. Surely there was a reason for all the devastation that he was going through. And indeed, there was a reason, but it wasn't because he had sinned against God. Sometimes, we need to be silent for those who are enduring extreme pain, trials, etc. But we are to intercede for them. Our silence should mean 'intercession in progress'. Hebrews 13:3 says 'Remember them that are in bonds (jail), as bound with them (as though you were there with them) and them which suffer adversity (sickness, hardships, persecutions), as being yourselves also in the body.' I am to put myself in their shoes. People I love are going through some rough trials right now and I know if I were in their shoes, I might not be able to pray as I should. Whether because of extreme pain or sheer grief, people need others to pray for them while they cannot pray themselves. This is my responsibility as a Christian. Christians are the body of Christ and if one member suffers, the whole body should bear the burden. I can think of a few people in my own life right now that I am interceding for because I know the state they are in physically and emotionally. It is my privilege and my responsibility to intercede for them as the Lord brings them to my mind. I haven't been able to forget this lesson on intercession and I doubt that I ever will. It has made such an impact on me personally and I am so thankful that God loves to hear and answer intercessory prayer.