Friday, August 7, 2009

Continually Remembering Before God

I was invited to write one week of devotionals for the 2011 edition of the "Upper Room Disciplines." The devotionals are based on the lectionary scriptures for a week in October. Here is one.

Friday, October 14, 2010 - Read 1 Thessalonians 1:1-3

I was leading a Bible study in which participants discussed different forms of prayer. As we approached the subject of intercession, a woman exclaimed, “I don’t get anything out of praying for other people. It doesn’t do any good, so why bother? God knows what they need.”

I mustered a response, reminding the class that many people find this way of prayer rewarding. But I admit her comment caught me off guard - many of us miss out on the joys of intercessory prayer. I am also aware that her doubts resonate with where I have been many times along the way.

Paul helps my doubtful stance. Paul opens his letter with gratitude by telling the Thessalonians that he and his companions “continually remember before our God” (NIV) their faithfulness. This idea of persistent remembering captures the spirituality of intercession.

I recall the humorous experience of hearing someone pray for the sick, making sure to mention their hospital room numbers. What if we thought of prayer not as giving God information which God already knows, but as “continually remembering before God” those we pray for?

It is difficult in a culture fixated on functionalism to fathom such mystery. I find that it helps to move intercessory prayer beyond words. At times, I envision lifting those I am praying for into holy light to receive healing and blessing.

This week we have spent time with Moses, the greatest of intercessors. He boldly remembered before God all that God had promised! He interceded not to give God information but to embrace a profound truth. Prayer makes a difference for others; but in our praying, we are also changed. Lifting up others is an essential part of our journey toward gratitude.

Spend some time remembering before God others who you long to pray for. Imagine lifting them into God’s healing light.