“The prayer of intercession is the noblest and most fulfilling kind of prayer, by its means love is raised to its greatest power”
‘More things are wrought by prayer than this world can dream of.’ - That is the verdict of believing men and women. Prayer is the secret of every life that has exercised a profound and enduring spiritual influence. We know that in it there is available to each of us a power of tremendous magnitude.
Why then are we so slow to use it? Too often, we pray only in a crisis when trouble comes, when disease strikes, when the safety of our country is threatened. Prayer thus resorted to principally as a means of obtaining things from God when other means fail, is spasmodic and selfish. No wonder people who pray in this fashion find it unsatisfying.
Also, many people in their prayers have taken over a form of words from their childhood and are using it as adults with little thought for its meaning and sometimes without real faith in its power. This is not vital Christian prayer, if it is prayer at all. The difficulties which keep us from using prayer may sometimes be theological. If God knows what people need before we ask Him, why tell Him? If, being all-loving and all-wise, He is ready to do what is best for every human being, why pray at all?
To find an answer let us look especially at one form of prayer. Let us see what happens when we pray for others.
First of all, have you ever thought of the effect of such prayer on yourself? It is impossible to harbour ill will and animosity against anyone if you keep praying for him. Whether your prayers have any immediate effect on him or not, this much is certain: you will be the better for them. In this sense what George Meredith wrote is true: “He who rises from prayer a better man, his prayer is answered.”
Prayer is the best arbitrator in differences, the best promoter of true friendships, the best cure for envy and jealousy. Are there people who dislike you, or have injured you; whom you dislike and shun? Pray for them and you will be more patient and charitable. You will find that you have become a happier person, living in a world that is friendlier than you were accustomed to find it. “The Lord turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends.” – The Holy Bible
Prayer for others not only transforms the disposition, it energizes the will. It helps our imagination to picture the situation of other human beings; it troubles the conscience and kindles affection in the heart, finally it moves the will to action. True prayer is dynamic. Use it, and you will discover that you can’t stop short at praying. If your prayer has any passion in it, any sincerity, it will promote you to action.
If a man prays for his friends, for those dear to him, he is certain to be concerned about them and active in his concern. If, habitually and fervently, he prays for his country, he will be a conscientious and loyal citizen, making a worth-while contribution to the life of his time.
Are you fortunate enough to have the assurance that someone is praying for you? It is a heartening, steadying, fortifying influence. (I miss the comforting knowledge of this fact my late father afforded me – yet I firmly believe he is still faithfully at it!)
When we pray for others we are not inducing God to interest Himself in those for whom we pray. We are giving proof to God of our interest in them, are submitting that interest to Him for purification and are thus making ourselves sensitive to His guidance and receptive of His power. More than that, besides opening the sluice gates for the divine grace to pour into our minds, we are charging the environment of our fellows with a spirituality that makes it easier for them as well as for us to know and do the will of God.
While we are thinking about ways to unleash the power of prayer, there is this to bear in mind: it may be that often we do not pray for people and causes simply because we do not care enough for them; because we are so pre-occupied with our own pursuits and pleasures; because we lack imagination as well as affection.
In the epilogue of Shaw’s Saint Joan the chaplain says that he has been saved: “Saved,” replies the bishop, “by the sufferings of Christ.” “No,” says the chaplain, “saved by seeing a young woman actually burned to death. One had to see it to feel the horror of it.” Whereupon the bishop asks a searching question: “Must then a Christ perish in torment in every age to save those who have no imagination?”
If we have imagination, if we care enough, if we love people and cause enough, we instinctively turn to God on their behalf, and seek the reinforcing of our love by His. Prayer is love raised to its greatest power; and the prayer of intercession is the noblest and most charitable kind of prayer because in it love, and imagination, reaches their highest and widest range…
God Bless ~ SB