I know that all kinds of questions present themselves concerning intercessory prayer. Why is one person healed and another is not? Why is one person protected from danger and another is not? The only answer to these questions and others is that we don’t know the answer. At least, I don’t know the answer nor do I know anybody who does.
We simply pray believing that God does hear and answer our prayers. We pray believing that God is love and desires the best for all of us. We pray believing that we are charging the environment of others with a spiritual energy that will help them know and do God’s will. We pray believing that our little prayers are backed and reinforced by the Eternal intercessor. We pray believing that prayer can overcome all barriers in a person’s life or circumstances. And we pray believing that something good will happen for those who are prayed for.
How it happens we don’t know. That’s not for us to speculate about. Faith simply believes and prays.
The apostle Paul has gone through some kind of terrible experience in Ephesus and has been miraculously delivered. And without doubt, he believes that his deliverance has been in answer to prayer — the prayers of others.
Paul says to the Corinthians: “I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part” ll Corinthians 1:11, The Message).
Study the lives of some the noted figures of the Old Testament — Abraham, Moses, Samuel, etc. They were all intercessors with God for others.
Then, of course, there is Jesus, the supreme example for all life, including the prayer life. He was, indeed, a great intercessor. On one occasion, he specifically prayed that Simon Peter’s “faith would not fail” (Luke 22:31,32).
Intercessory prayer is a blessing for the one who prays! Praying for others has a transforming effect on our minds. Often it changes our attitude toward people or causes.
Years ago I thought someone had wronged me. I said to my wife, “Well, I love ‘em, but I don’t like ‘em.
My wife said to me. “Let’s just pray that God will change our attitude.”
I responded, “But you don’t understand. I didn’t do that, they did.”
She replied, “Let’s just pray that God will change our attitude.”
Suffice it to say, we did and God did!
And then praying for others has a noble effect on our wills. We simply cannot authentically pray for otters without being compelled to act in their behalf. As we sincerely and persistently hold others before God sooner than later we will be moved to ask, “What will you have me to do? How would you have me become the answer to this prayer?”
So in praying for others, there is an increase in our awareness of how God sees and loves them.
Intercessory prayer is a blessing for the ones prayed for! When the great reformer, Martin Luther, felt particularly strong and happy he would exclaim, “I feel as if I were being prayed for.”
To know that you are being prayed for is a heartening experience. While criticism tends to push us down, to know that there is someone praying for us is a source of sustaining strength.
But what of those who do not know that somebody is praying for them? Does praying for them do any good?
Speaking of his own practice of intercessory prayer, all that William Temple, the late archbishop of Canterbury, would say was this, “When I pray, coincidences happen, and when I do not, they don’t.” And perhaps that’s all that needs to be said.
To be sure, there is a sickness that has laid its hands upon our nation and world. People today desperately need the help that we can give them. Civilization and anarchy are locked in a life and death struggle the world over. People are suffering because of COVID-19, the economy and injustice. Individuals are living lives of quiet desperation. So many political leaders are distracted while facing gigantic societal issues. And we can make a difference if we commit ourselves to praying in their behalf.
Like many of you, I believe in intercessory prayer. Consequently, I urge you to join me in continuing to flood God’s throne of grace with our prayers on behalf of those with COVID-19, those bereaved because of the loss of a loved one, those seeking treatments and a vaccine, those with economy or job concerns, those facing justice issues, those working for peace and for our president and congressional representatives as they move beyond party loyalty to the well being of our nation.
Our prayers for others are part of our best hope and greatest resource!