Somehow, that phrase strikes a fear in me. Some tiny voice in me goes “no!”, my muscles contort in a way that makes me flop sideways like a seal (arms tucked to the side and all) and then i bounce back up quite naturally after that.
On tuesday night, I sat in a car and possibly said the worst intercessory prayer ever.
“Lord I pray for… (insert miscellaneous one syllable name here)”
and then i paused. For a really long while, while waves of emotion flooded my brain and pretty much my face too. But don’t imagine this as a pretty flood like those video clips where the waves crash spectacularly against the rocks, it felt like sandbags rolling up and down the shore as the waves came in.
Usually, I would think the bunch of emotion would untangle and unfold to reveal some amazing emotionally empowered prayer that comprehensively covers all there is about the person and what they are going through because you know, that’s what intercessory prayer might be, a nice big blanket in the cold.
Strangely after a rather generic sentence of saying something like “that he would be able to discern your will” or “that she will be healed of hurt”, I always draw blanks. And to avoid such a long awkward silence because someone else is around, I kinda move on to the next name. It’s like moving from door to door everytime an MRT stopped at the station, it was rather meaningless but I’m not sure why I always had that desire to do it in the first place. (I did this a couple weeks back, it was odd)
Pushing through the strangeness and rummaging through names, I get to the end of the prayer, and thank God for being awesome and that was it. It was such a strange indie kind of prayer, I almost am not sure if it was done out of sincerity or whether it was said to get it over and done with.
Intercessory prayer, especially those said out loud, has always been something I admired. Intercessory prayer doesn’t allow selfishness, is an avenue for one to hear God, is an opportunity to be God’s witness, is a time to get some direction and brings everything back to God and his will for us. Moreover, it helps vulnerability, increases accountability and builds community, builds the church.
The idea of prayer is just pretty overwhelmingly beneficial, as much as I do struggle to understand the point of it because a neon sign that says “God already knows” pops up and I feel like I don’t have to tell God what to do. *cue that shameful self slap to the cheek as a servant stands before his master* But I guess God is different, the kind that just sits with you, already knowing the problem and the solution, but listens to you talk it out so that you just kinda grow as a person.
So here’s the deal, Praying for other out loud is cool but I possess no ability to be eloquent when talking out loud. It’s distressing because in the adoration room the other day I found the ability to say an eloquent prayer for others, but of course, that’s ‘in the silence of my heart’, a phrase I always identified with.
But over the past 2 days, the second time with community also in a car, I don’t think I’ve ever felt that encouraged to just try and voice out these tangled prayers and just let go let God. It has been a terrible amount of grace and for that I would Praise God for. (Sometimes I really do not like knowing what I am terrible at because I know God is gonna do something with that how painful.)
Last Saturday I went for a talk about intercessory prayer, mostly because 3 of 5 things on my spiritual bucket list had to do with praying out loud. The speaker gave this definition of intercessory, and definitions always help because we think we know but sometimes we really don’t.
“Intercession is pushing against what is not right and bringing the need to God, where we stand in the gap between God and prayer need and ask for intervention”
It’s a little silly but the idea that there was something that had to be ‘not right’ really hit me, I have to acknowledge that something wasn’t right. And with pride and rationals for everything – that’s hard.
Another thing that really stood out was this: we come to prayer with a long list of intentions, pray for this, pray for that and it’s good! But we also need to hear the heart of God, “this insight helps us agree with heaven about what is needed in the earth right at this moment”. We bring that need, hear God’s will and pray that back to him, and it’s not too hard too, just included a step that required praying that the holy spirit would give direction on what’s in God’s heart. I feel like I’m selling some product and adding a step into a daily cleansing ritual, “just add in a step where you need to add toner after washing your face!”
I digress too much. The talk also covered Jesus the greatest intercessor (CCC2634), what were prompting to pray, and the different way of intercession, some of which affirmed me in my prayer just because verbal eloquence wasn’t the only way of interceding. We had a workshop of sorts where there was a structure to how we could intercede for others from step 1 to step 6, which is useful for the girl with stage fright.
Well, steep learning curve but a small step taken nonetheless.
“Prayer is the heart of the church, Pray because you have the heart for it.”
(The quotes come from the talk given by Anne Marie Gatenby at SFX church Aug2013, except that bit about toner, that’s a voice in my head)