Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of articles on the theme, “The Power of Intercessory Prayer.”
Introduction. Just before he died, Jesus offered up a series of prayers to his Father on his behalf, on behalf of his disciples, and on our behalf. First he asked his Father to “glorify” him so that he could in turn bring glory to his Father. Then he asked his Father to guide and protect his disciples. Finally, he prayed that all of us would become one with the Father, with Jesus, and with each other (John 17). An hour or two later, when he was in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus interceded again, saying, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me” (Matthew 26:39). And again, just before he died, he prayed: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Jesus knew how important intercessory prayer is. As the high priest of our new covenant with God, he lives forever to intercede for us, offering prayers to the Father on our behalf. This is something he will continue to do every day until he comes in glory to answer all the longings of our hearts.
The knowledge that Jesus is for us, always interceding for us and always blessing us, is so comforting and uplifting. But it also presents us with a challenge to our day-to-day lives. It calls us to join him in interceding—for ourselves, for our families, for our friends, and even for those who may not like us. Jesus wants us to bring all of our needs and wants to him—the big ones and the small ones.
Pray, and Never Give Up. In the articles that follow, we want to encourage you to increase your times of intercessory prayer. Why? Because persistent prayer brings amazing grace—grace that we need to live each day. I myself pray prayers of petition each day for the world—for a great outpouring of grace and for conversions. I pray for myself, my family, my friends, and for the whole Word Among Us family. I pray for the typical challenges and sufferings of life, as well as for small things like finding a parking space, resolving a computer glitch, having a meeting go well.
For the past twenty years, I have been praying for my daughter, Christine, asking that God would heal her blindness. This prayer has not been answered as I have asked, but I know that God hears me and is working in Christine’s life. She is a happy, well-adjusted young woman. She is not bitter about her blindness. And she is a tangible witness to the love of Christ. Maybe this is God’s full answer, but I am not going to stop asking for her sight. I still believe that all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).
So as you read the articles in this series, I hope it helps you turn to the Lord and intercede every day. Make a list so that you don’t forget what you are praying for—and so that you can keep track of how God answers your prayers. And believe me, he will answer them!
( Joe Difato is the publisher of “The Word Among Us” devotional magazine. To contact him, go to his website at www.joedifato.com . Many thanks to The Word Among Us (http://www.wau.org/ ) for allowing us to use his articles from their October 2009 issue. Used with permission.)
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
1. The article begins with examples of how Jesus prayed and interceded for others to his Heavenly Father. The article goes on to say that Jesus “lives forever to intercede for us, offering prayers to the Father on our behalf.” What impact does this truth have on how you live out your life as a Catholic man? What impact should it have?
2. The article goes on to say that we should join Jesus in “interceding—for ourselves, for our families, for our friends, and even for those who may not like us. Jesus wants us to bring all of our needs and wants to him—the big ones and the small ones.” Do you do this on a regular basis (preferably every day)? What steps can you take to make intercessory prayer an even greater part of your life?
3. The author mentions that he has continued to pray for his daughter. “For the past twenty years, I have been praying for my daughter, Christine, asking that God would heal her blindness. This prayer has not been answered as I have asked, but I know that God hears me and is working in Christine’s life.” Are there any prayers that you are still asking God to answer?
4. Do you keep a list of those people and the various needs you are praying for? Take a few minutes now to create an intercessory prayer list that you can pray for each day. How does your list compare to the author’s list?
5. If you are in a men’s group, take some time at the end of your meeting to pray for one another using the intercessory prayer list you created.
(The discussion questions were created by Maurice Blumberg, a Trustee of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.catholicmensresources.org/ ), and currently the Director of Partner Relations for The Word Among Us Partners , (http://www2.wau.org/partners/ ), a Ministry of The Word Among Us to the Military and Prisoners . Maurice can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)