We were talking to a young priest friend the other day about intercession …”praying on behalf of another”. He mentioned that a number of people had agreed to pray for him and his priesthood. (The “Seven Sisters Apostolate” pray for priests…. one praying an hour each day of the week for a particular priest.)
Where would we be without intercession? Where would we be without others praying for us? Thank God for our “praying mothers”? The scriptures are filled with examples of intercession… we see Moses interceding for Israel, Ezekiel standing in the gap for them…. we see Jesus himself praying for Peter that his faith would not fail (Luke 22:32) and praying for his disciples (including us) that we would be protected. (John 17:9-11)
What about praying for the sick and dying when they find themselves unable to pray? A Benedictine Abbott explained to one of his dying monks, who wasn’t able to pray, that it was time for his fellow monks to carry him in prayer… “he could just rest in the boat while his brothers rowed”.
While we all need to be intercessors and pray for one another, our family, our nation, our church; nevertheless, it seems that some have a special call to be intercessors. In 1977 my wife and I attended a major ecumenical Christian rally in Kansas City… cleverly named “The Kansas City Conference”. Attendees from various Christian denominations (including many Catholic) filled most of the Kansas City Arrowhead Stadium.
We went to a breakout session on Intercession. After hearing an excellent talk, the minister asked those who felt they might have that special gift to stand… before the words got out of his mouth, my wife Judy popped up like a “Jack In The Box”. She knew that she had a call to pray for people in a very specific way. (not wanting to be left out, I stood too…. but that’s another story) Over the years she has demonstrated that God did call her in a special way. Many nights she is up praying for various people and their needs. Throughout the day she finds herself praying for friends and acquaintances and even strangers she has met. She is the first one our kids (and now grandkids) call when they have a prayer need…. even our kid’s friends call her for prayers. Sometimes I ask her if she still has time to pray for me…. she assures me that she always finds time to pray for me in the night and throughout the day. I am especially blessed.
Intercessory prayer works because the Holy Spirit backs it up. It shows our love and concern for others who are going through trials. The recipient of the prayers knows that they are loved and they often experience relief from their particular suffering, whether physical or emotional or financial…. Let’s keep praying for one another. We all need it.