Recently I was in a stressful situation. My bus was heading towards the Canadian-American border. I was hoping to get back into Canada with an expired study permit in hand, but a new one on the way to my house in Canada. I didn’t know what the border guard would say. My mind once again ran through the worst case scenarios.
Into that moment, my mom sent me a text message: “praying for you.”
Intercessory prayer is a pretty common idea to most of us. We sit in circles and take prayer requests. Maybe, we even pray for those people later, outside of the prayer meeting. But how often do we pause and reflect on the incredible grace that is reflected in the fact that our prayers can have effects?
I could have responded in two very different ways when my mom texted me. I could have seen her text as a nice guesture that reflected solidarity and moral support. Or I could take God at his word and believe that my mom’s prayer was heard and, in some way, would take effect.
Most of the time, I go with the former. Most people I know probably do so. We lose sight of God’s call to prayer as not just a means of encouragement, but as a means of causation. Prayer changes things.
Intercessory prayer is one of the things about our faith that just does not make sense. Not in the way that it’s logically incoherent or nonsensical, but because it is so incredible outrageous. A person like me, with all my flaws, my failure to live up to God’s standard, can come to him, ask him to help someone else, and he actually listens? That is truly astounding.
Of course, if we simply make prayer into a formula or some sort of incantation we are doing things wrong. God is not bound by our prayers. At the same time, however, he clearly allows our prayers to affect the world around us.
That’s serious business. Evidently, prayer is something we need to take seriously.
Perhaps taking prayer seriously is a matter of actually praying, of bringing others before their loving Creator and asking for his help on their behalf. This requires a fuller belief in the reality that God actually is involve in our lives, hears us, and responds.
Let’s pray that we live out of that belief daily.