Praying in Confidence. Intercessory prayer is one of the most effective ways that we can address the worries, problems, and challenges that we face in our lives. But there is more to intercession than simply stating our needs and waiting for God to work. As the above passage from Hebrews tells us, we need confidence and trust. We need to believe that the One we are praying to is all-loving and all-powerful. We need to believe that God is our Father and that he hears all of our requests. In short, we need faith: “Without faith it is impossible to please him, for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
Faith means that we believe that God has the power to answer all of our prayers in his wisdom and by his love and providence. It means that we believe that God wants to give us good things-in every form and in every way. It means that we trust that our Father would never forget his children.
Of course, there are reasons why we may not see our prayers answered in the way we want. But we need to be clear that indifference, unfaithfulness, or lack of love on God’s part have nothing to do with it. God always wants to give us good things, but sometimes the “good” we are looking for is not the “good” that God knows we need.
Praying in Faith. When Susan was diagnosed with cancer, she was at a stage in her life when her faith was at a very low point. Some people in her parish offered to pray with her, and as they did, they reinforced some simple, basic truths of our faith: God is alive, he loves us, and he knows what is going on in our lives. All the love and prayers she received from her brothers and sisters in Christ helped Susan’s faith to grow stronger. Every week, as people prayed with her, Susan grew stronger. Today, ten years later, Susan is still battling cancer. In fact, it has gone away and returned twice. But in all these ups and downs, one thing remains constant: Her faith continues to grow and remains stronger than her fears and anxieties. And it all started when a few people reached out to her ten years ago.
If we want to see answers to our prayers, we need to use all the faith we have. This doesn’t mean that we have to have heroic faith, and it doesn’t mean that only those with heroic faith will be heard. What it does mean is this: Each of us has a certain degree of faith. It may be deep and mature, or it may be more shallow and new. When we pray in intercession, it is vital that we use all the faith we have-no matter how much that is. A halfhearted effort is simply not enough. We need to seek the Lord with everything we have, according to the full level of our faith.
Each of us can choose faith over worry, doubt, and fear. Why? Because faith is a gift from God; it’s not something that we have to conjure up ourselves. It’s a powerful grace that helps us hold the ground when the difficulties of life-sickness, loss of job, family problems-come at us. So bring your prayers of intercession to the Lord with complete trust in him. And as you do, ask him to increase your faith.
Let’s Get Started. Intercessory prayer is not meant to be reserved for the toughest problems we face. Rather, we should be interceding every day. We should feel free to pray for our spouse and family every day. We should pray for the needs of the world every day. We should pray for our friends and neighbors, even our enemies, every day. This is what Jesus told us to do when he taught us to pray for our daily bread and to be delivered from all evil. So let’s begin today. Let’s put together a list of intercessory prayers. Let’s persistently pray for these intercessions every day. There is no petition that is too small or too unworthy.
(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 first paragraph of the article ends with this Scripture: “Without faith it is impossible to please him, for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). Having faith should include believing:
- “that God is all-loving and all-powerful”
- “that God is our Father and that he hears all of our requests”
- “that God has the power to answer all of our prayers in his wisdom and by his love and providence”
- “that God wants to give us good things-in every form and in every way”
- “that our Father would never forget his children”
How strong is your faith in these beliefs.
2. The article goes on to say that “there are reasons why we may not see our prayers answered in the way we want.” Do you agree with the reasons given? What other reasons are there.
3. What do you think the following words from the article mean? “If we want to see answers to our prayers, we need to use all the faith we have.”
4. The article ends by saying we should be interceding every day in prayers, and it gives some examples of who we should be praying for. What would your list of intercessory prayers look like? Are you willing to commit to praying for these prayers every day – at least during the Advent and Christmas Season? If not, why not.
5. If you are in a men’s group, take some time at the end of your meeting to pray for one another for the grace to be an intercessor, and to be faithful to praying for your list of intercessory prayers with expectant faith.
(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.)