Thursday, August 11, 2011

Intercessory Prayer

Do you pray for your loved ones or do you intercede for them? I have been mulling around the idea lately,  that interceding is different from praying.

When you pray for those you love, or even your enemies, you are asking God to take care of them, their spiritual needs, physical needs, etc. In a regular prayer you are releasing the responsibility totally to Him, Christ.

Intercessory prayers seem to be something different. You are asking God if you can take responsibility of the person's sins. You are saying as did Moses on Mt. Sinai when he was grieving over the sins of Israel,

But now, if You will, forgive their sin-and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written ! Ex. 32: 32
Sounds like a threat at first glance. But God did not rebuke Moses but was pleased and forgave the people because of Moses. Scripture, numerous times, tells us God forgave Israel for the sake of David.
Perhaps intercessory pray is placing the guilt of the other persons sins upon yourself and absorbing the punch of sin into your own soul. 
Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Gal. 6: 2

You are becoming a type of Christ for those you love.
Before you recoil in horror over that statement, as I do realize that Christ’s blood and atonement is fully sufficient to save us and that we cannot redeem anyone with our personal sacrifice, but as Catholics, don’t we believe that we are Christ’s body on earth and don’t we still believe in a royal priesthood in the order of Melchizedek? Intercession is not a symbolic act for Catholics.

Are we not, in a sense, taking on another's sins when we forgive them? We are allowing the punishment fall dead at our feet. We take the hit of the affects of someone's offense against us and let the ripple effect of the sin go no further.

As Catholics isn’t it our faith that intercedes for our children when we baptize them, and we, as parents, receive the guilt for our small children’s sins? 

The idea that we may intercede for others does have support in scripture. 

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed . The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5: 16
Perhaps that is one of the main reasons we are supposed to become saints while on earth. Because the prayers of a righteous man availeth much. The holier we become, the more intercessory prayers we are able to handle, the more powerful our weapons are against the demonic forces trying to take our loved ones out.
When we become intercessors through prayer are we not coming against the powers of evil and aren’t we promised that even the gates of hell themselves cannot prevail against it? In the battle armaments of Ephesians six that God has given us, and in His power we are saying to the Devil, “you will get this person over my dead body!”

Maybe intercessory prayer is the one way we can storm the gates of hell and it cannot prevail against us. 
If I am way off on this, please let me know....


MarysRoses said...

I think you are definitely on the right track. And of course, for Catholics (and others as they choose to believe/participate) intercession by those of us here on earth in the Church Militant is taken up and increased a thousand fold by the Church Triumphant in Heaven.

Christ alone is all we need, Christ alone is sufficient. OF COURSE! BUT! My opinion, Christians today are far too likely to take almost a utilitarian view of salvation. Discussions of doctrine so often boil down to the minimum list that folks can agree on as "necessary". Like much of our culture, its very individually, personally oriented. What do "I" need, what do "I" have to do.

God always seems to provide abundance, not the minimum necessary. Its like providing a 12 course sitdown dinner, when peanut butter sandwich will provide the nutrients "necessary" for a meal.

In scripture it does seem that God wants us to intercede for each other. Why give Moses the opportunity to intercede? Why discuss any action at all before acting. Love doesn't exist alone, I doubt personally that it even thrives between two, if the two are excluding any others. Love that doesn't reach out dies. God created families, communities and ways to grow by loving and interacting with others. God is not even single. He is One, but One in being with three Divine Persons. God is love and He chooses not to be alone. Intercessory prayer expresses love. Who wouldn't put themselves in place of a loved one to spare them pain?

Christ alone is sufficient, because He is God, and it would be impossible for that not to be true. Yet when God provided for us the ordinary means of salvation, the ordinary way of relating to each other in community and as the Church, He chose to do it through people in tangible ways. We are baptized by another person as the ordinary means of entering the community. Only in unusual circumstances are baptisms private. Usually, they are witnessed by the community which promises support and nurure for the new Christian. We pray for each other, here, and we have the Church already in heaven praying and interceding for us.

I'm all for storming Heaven with out prayers! Let's empty purgatory! We should all be so enthusiastic!

Teresa Beem said...

Thanks MarysRoses. Sometimes its hard to get a grasp on what Catholics believe. The Catechism doesn't deal with a lot of topics....