Lame joke on the title – sorry, couldn’t help it 😀
This week, 7G was at CUR (Combined University Retreat) where we prayed and interceded on behalf of the participants in the OYP adoration room.
Intercessory ministry is a curious thing. A whole bunch of people pack themselves into a room, gazing lovingly at the Blessed Sacrament before them. They sing P&W songs, say out their prayers of thanksgiving, brokenness and intercession, then they go home. The people they pray for – in this case, the participants – may not even know that they’re there.
So why do we even pray and intercede for others? Is there really a point?
People often view intercession as a petition of sorts. Maybe if we collect 1,000 prayer “signatures” on this petition, we could get God to change His mind and do something?
Nope – God is God with or without our prayers. He’s Almighty, and He acts in ways that are according to His plan, whether it’s 1 person or 1 million people praying. So why do we even pray for others? A couple of reasons:
1. To Help Others Knock On The Door
Luke 11:9 says that if we knock on the door, it will be opened to us. In other words, God wants us to be active partners – not passive recipients – in bringing the kingdom of heaven to earth.
But sometimes, people may not be able to knock on the door themselves. Maybe they’re struggling with pressure and grades. Maybe they’re dealing with an alcoholic parent. Maybe they’re burdened with the guilt of abortion or promiscuity.
In these scenarios, it’s up to us to align ourselves with their sufferings, and take up the responsibility of knocking on the door on their behalf.
2. To Let Others Know That There’s Someone Cheering Them On
I used to take part in the Army Half Marathon, and one great thing about it is that along the way, there are always people cheering you on. Just seeing them gave me the added strength to press on towards the finish line.
In the same way, we have all the saints in heaven praying and interceding for us through our struggles. So if we aspire to be like the saints, it’s only natural that we take up that same actions on behalf of others!
During the Marriage Preparation Course, I recall feeling really touched that the facilitators would be praying for us every single day. It’s only right that we give that same encouragement to the CUR participants (or anyone else) by praying for them.
3. To Be Like Jesus
Last of all, intercessory prayer is also for ourselves! Intercessory prayer reflects God’s own character of outgoing love and mercy. God, being merciful to others, wants us to be more like Him, so much so that He sent His Son to show us how to do it.
For example, Jesus asked God to have forgive his persecutors, and prayed for Peter that his faith will not fail. In fact, Jesus specifically commanded us to pray for each other in Matthew 5:44:
“Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you”
Reflecting this, the apostle James told the early Christians to pray for one another:
“pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16).
And here’s Saint Paul:
“Supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
In short, praying for others doesn’t just benefit others, it benefits ourselves. It makes us more compassionate. It brings us deeper into the sufferings of others. It grows us as a human being and a Christian.
WOW – what an awesome form of worship and outreach! It’s one of the noblest forms of service, and I’m really glad we get to be a part of it 🙂