Sunday, December 09, 2007

Intercessory Prayer

More from Philip Yancey's book, Prayer:

God is looking for a beachhead of presence in the world--a body, we might say, and indeed that is the very image Paul seizes upon in his letters. We the "body of Christ" have formed a partnership to dispense God's love and grace to others. As we experience that grace, inevitably we want to share it with others. Love does not come naturally to me, I must say. I need prayer in order to place myself within the force field of God's love, allowing God to fill me with compassion that I cannot muster on my own.

This way of viewing the world changes how I pray for others. Crudely put, I once invisioned intercession as bringing requests to God that God may not have thought of, then talking God into granting them. Now I see intercession as an increase in my awareness. When I pray for another person, I am praying for God to open my eyes so that I can see that person as God does, and then enter into the stream of love that God already directs toward that person.

Something happens when I pray for others in this way. Bringing them into God's presence changes my attitude toward them and ultimately affects our relationship. I pray for the neighbor who is always trying to sneak out of paying his share of neighborhood assessments and begin to see him not as a conniver but as a friendless man who lives with constant financial worries. I pray for my drug-addicted relative and see past the irresponsible behavior to a wounded, desperate soul.

In short, prayer allows me to see others as God sees them (and me): as uniquely flawed and uniquely gifted bearers of God's image. I begin seeing them through Jesus' eyes, as beloved children whom the Father longs to embrace. I know that God wants their marriages to grow stronger and their children to stay out of trouble; God wants them healthy, and strong to resist temptation, capable of reaching out to others in need. I bring those prayers to God because I know God wills the very same thing. What I desire in the people I pray for, God desires all the more. (pg. 303)

No comments: