PARADOXICAL

The faith chronicles

Friday, August 04, 2006

 

The power of intercession


In my years of praying, I noticed one thing glaring about interceding for other that’s impossible to miss: It is the fact that my pleas on behalf of other people are almost always answered in the affirmative and answered fast, while my pleas for myself seem routinely ignored.

This has brought me to accusing God that He is unfair. Why listen to the concern of others and ignore my own?

Soon I would have another realization: If I humbly, in all vulnerability, requested others to pray for me, His yes comes in lightning speed.

It would thus dawn on me that our God is far pleased with intercessory prayer more than anything else. Anything selfless, giving, generous, attracts with readiness the Inventor of things like love, kindness and caring. He is even given to rewarding the intercessor with pleasant surprises!

Having experienced God’s sweet love this way, I had no choice but change my attitude towards prayer. I had to dedicate the bulk of my prayers to others, even to strangers in far-away lands – for Afghan refugees, for souls in purgatory, especially those having no one to pray for them, for my country, for world peace, for conversion of hardened sinners. These prayers may sound far-fetched, but seen from this perspective, they make sense.

My group has learned that tack, too, and reinstated the long-neglected practice of a communal intercessory prayer as well as assigning each member a prayer partner. For the latter, each member is instructed to refrain from praying for his or her own concerns; these are taken care of by the person assigned to one's name. Instead, someone else takes care of lifting up to God one's concerns.

“None of you should think only of his own affairs, but consider other people’s interest also.” (Phil. 2:4, JBP). This is probably among Pope John Paul II’s bases for his call to establishing a civilization of love. A world of selflessness, caring, empathy. A world on its knees in intercession.

I have this personal hunch that praying for others, more than it is stashing away treasures in heaven, more than earning brownie points with God, also means forsaking the graces reserved for me and re-channeling them for others’ benefit. This way, intercessory prayer is pure generosity of heart! However, this could also mean taking the blow reserved for the one being interceded for. Honestly, this thought makes me somewhat hesitant, hoping it’s not true. Nevertheless, it’s selfless love that pleases God so much and we know what happens when we become the apple of His eyes.


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