Surprising thoughts about intercessory prayer

I’ve been studying about intercessory prayer this week. It might sound a little monastic, and maybe it is. But it’s rocking my world. See what you think about this–

Intercession is basically the most selfless kind of prayer you can pray. It approaches God’s throne on behalf of someone else, someone whose life’s choices don’t affect you and might not even change. It’s not your run-of-the-mill request.4531571-2xs

Intercession bleeds for other people. It’s Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying for God to protect us, the believers who were yet to believe. It’s Job praying for his friends, whose theology was decidedly ego-centric.

It’s Moses, listening to 2,000 Israelites complain about wandering in the desert because they were hot, hungry, and thirsty. Several times, God threatened to wipe the Israelites out, but Moses interceded for them. I read another account of Moses’ intercession yesterday, and I had a profound thought (for me anyway). Here it is: the success of the intercession seems to revolve around the intercessor’s faith, rather than the faith of the subject being prayed for. Intercessory prayer appears to be more about revealing God’s power and glory than about accomplishing something tangible. See what I mean:

“But there was no water of the people to drink. So they quarreled with Moses and said, ‘Give us water to drink.’

Moses replied, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the Lord to the test?’

But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, ‘Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?’

Then Moses cried out to the Lord, ‘What am i to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.’

The Lord answered Moses, ‘Walk on ahead of the people . . . and go. I will stand there before you . . .’

So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?'”–Gen. 17:1-6

Here’s what I mean. Moses, not the Israelites, had faith in who God was and what God could do. Intercession was an act of faith by which Moses proved God’s love and God’s existence to a people whose faith was still weak. IMG_3329

Intercession, it seems, is more about opening our eyes to the power and presence of God than it is about getting a request answered for someone else. Surprising concept, yet it jives with the reason for prayer in general. Prayer is always about the relationship.

At least, that’s what I’m thinking today. What do you think?

John 15:20-23 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. . . .May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”