Wednesday, January 24, 2007

On Being An Intercessor

An important ingredient in faith is complete TRUST in God. Without it, there is doubt in the "bread of life" - did Jesus really rise from the dead? Did He die for me? Did He really raise Lazarus from the dead, and heal the sick and lame? Trust is the yeast that makes our bread rise, our prayers come to be answered.

God is the Almighty, all powerful, and with Him nothing is impossible. He can do all things, even heal those we love. But we cannot get to God unless we go through Jesus. He is our intercessor in prayer. In John 14:6 Jesus says, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Also, in Matthew 18 Jesus says, 19"Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

Both my husband and I have been witness to the power of intercessory prayer. When the prayer warriors come out ten fold, hundred fold, thousand fold - He has answered prayer. It could be as simple as healing my niece when she had the flu recently during final exams. Her mother sent out prayers requests. I, in turn, asked prayers of my friends, as did others. The next day my sister received a phone call from her daughter. "Mom - you asked people to pray for me, didn't you? As I was reading and studying last night I began to feel so much better, and by morning I was well for my exam!"

Another friend recently requested prayer for her friend's daughter - diagnosed with a brain tumor. An operation to remove the tumor was likely to leave the woman, with young children, paralyzed. Hundreds of people prayed. The woman's family created a web site, telling of their daughters plight and asking for prayer. Before the surgery, the family sought a second opinion. When CAT scans and all the other tests were completed, the doctors were dumbfounded. The scans revealed no indication of a brain tumor, the woman had been healed - in the doctor's words, "by a miracle". When prayers are multiplied, I am a firm believer that it can make a difference.

How then, shall we pray? It is important to know there are different kinds of prayer. I would like a new car - this is a prayer request on my behalf. It's no secret that our family car, with its rusting body and mega miles has a limited time to cart us back and forth from job, to church, to basketball practice and pre-school. Yet, there is no money for a new car - no money for a car payment. It is not wrong to pray for a want, but I ask God's will in this matter. I also pray that He keep my car running for as long as we have need of it. I trust that He will take care of me and my family. He knows what is best for us. I realize that if our car should bite the dust, it would mean walking to work, fewer trips into Madison to shop, and relying on others to help transport our kids. None of these things, when reluctantly considered, would be particularly bad for me.

When I pray for my friends who are sick - do I pray God's will be done? I used to - I admit, because I thought we were always supposed to pray for God's will. But as I listen to teachings, and read more scripture about prayer - intercessory prayer is not a time to say, "well God, I would like You to heal my friend, but if You don't want to - that's okay, too." Where is faith and trust in that kind of prayer? I don't want the sound of doubt canceling out my prayer request. In this passage from Mark 11, Jesus tells us how important it is to BELIEVE in your prayer:
20In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21Peter remembered and said to Jesus, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!" 22"Have faith in God," Jesus answered. 23"I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

The New Testament offers other such similar stories of great faith. In James, chapter 5, he instructs us how we we might pray for one another.
" 13Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."
We need to be in relationship with the Lord. Not only in our time of trouble, but also in times of praise and thanksgiving. This is a one on one relationship. Yes, gathering in group studies and for worship is a wonderful time with the Lord, but He also wants to hear from us when we are completely alone. However, when illness comes into play, and healing is needed - it is time to gather the prayer warriors. Yes, we can pray alone for our loved ones, and ourselves. There are immediate moments of dire need in which no one may be available to pray with you, but rally the troops as soon as you are able. I have seen the results of prayers offered up in number. A prayer group not need to be in the same room holding hands, but voices raised for one cause can be very powerful.

Now, when I pray for friends who are ill, I pray for healing and relief from pain. I expect things from God because I KNOW He can. He can - I cannot. But if my faith wavers, if I have doubt - how can I expect God to heal? In Matthew 8 there is a story of a centurion whose servant is suffering. He seeks out Jesus, who offers to come and touch the sick man to heal him. The centurion basically tells Jesus it is not necessary for Him to go to his house, that He only need say the Word and his servant will be healed. Jesus is astounded at the man's faith, and claims it to be greater than that of any man in Israel.

Is belief in God's power to heal a way for mere mortals to manipulate God? I don't believe so. We can't make God do anything according to our will, afterall, He IS the Almighty God, all powerful, Creator of the heavens and earth. However, because of His great love for us - He IS willing to answer our petitions. He is willing to heal our loved ones. I believe that today, just as in the days recounted in the Bible, strong faith and trust in God do make a difference. My desire is to be a present day centurion.

Does God hear the prayer of one? Most certainly. His eye is on every sparrow, and He calls each star by name. Are we, who are made in His image, not more important to God than the stars and sparrows? I know that we are.

1 Peter 2:24 recounts " His stripes we are healed." We are healed not by His death, but by the beating Jesus received before He died. Jesus' death brought salvation to the world. Through His suffering we are given the gift of whole body healing: mind, body and spirit.

What I have shared today are my thoughts and feelings on prayer. These thoughts have come about by the people God has put along my path in this earthly journey. I will finish this reflection on prayer with a quote by Kenneth E. Hagin: "You are a person of great faith. You either have faith in your sickness, or faith in God's power to heal you. I hope for your sake your faith is in the right thing." How is your prayer journey this day?

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