Wednesday, October 04, 2006

On Intercessory Prayer

A long time friend of mine recently eMailed me about her concern for a friend of hers who has just been diagnosed with serious illness, asking for prayers, of course, but also reflecting on the experience of intercession and petition. I thought our exchange worth sharing:

[It's been said that ]one prayer is enough; that the instructions in the Bible about prayer are aimed at keeping us in communion and communication with God. After
all, God doesn't keep a balance so when x number of people have prayed for something or someone the answer changes from no to yes. I once read that prayer is laying hold of God's highest willingness. Whether all of this makes sense or not, I'm sure it's so: one prayer is enough. Amazing grace! Your thoughts?

Intercessory prayer is certainly a mystery. Yes, once is enough. At the same time, Jesus seems to encourage us to "pester" God. So while the former seems more natural to me, I make myself do the latter as a matter of obedience and discipline. Lately, I like to think of intercession and petition, particularly when suffering is the subject, as a way of making ourselves--i.e. our sufferings--"available" to God for him to use in his redemptive re-weaving of the fabric of creation. Rather than passively or grudgingly tolerating suffering, it makes more sense to me to actively embrace it, intentionally identifying it with the sufferings of Christ and, hopefully (in the words of the Book of Common Prayer) "find [the way of the cross] none other than the way of life and peace." Of course, I also find that I'm never too keen on embracing my actual sufferings. It works better in the abstract! But, however imperfectly, I try.


1 comment:

Steve Martins said...

Dan:
Just before reading your Blog today, I had just posted some thoughts about prayer on my own Blog.
http://www.stevemartins.blogspot.com/
Taken togther, the two are complementary. I hope you'll read it.