Saturday, August 27, 2011

Intercession – Questions without Answers

               Carol* and I have been friends since we were in our teens and we are both approaching retirement age now.  Her name has been on my prayer lists many times throughout the years.  At times, she reminds me of Job in the Old Testament, in that it seems that she has had so many disappointments and discouragements to deal with and I do not know why it should be that way.   
                Carol’s parents divorced after she was an adult and already married.  What a disappointment that was for her!   Her parents had been in ministry and Carol was supportive of the work they did.  The family breakup shattered all that she had known and taken for granted, as she was growing up.  She had never imagined her parents deciding to go their separate ways. 
                Through the years, Carol has also had to contend with significant health problems.  At times, the challenges she has faced have been life threatening.  At other occasions, she has faced mobility issues of various kinds that hampered her ability to do the work she loves, serving others in the medical profession. 
                Another challenge that came Carol’s way was the loss of employment by her husband.  This was not just an interim job loss.  It continued for quite some time and resulted in him having to choose a job in a sector that for him was quite uncomfortable, but it seemed to be the only possibility on the horizon. 
                Carol faced the usual challenges of parenting her children, sharing the joys and sorrows that are common to most of us.  However, when her youngest son was in university, he developed a disease that presented constant unknowns to the medical community.  One of the complications of this disease was kidney failure and the solution was for Carol to donate one of her kidneys to her son.  Of course, she did this without hesitation, as any Mother would who can do something to save the life of her child.  Even after the transplant, her son continues to face constant health issues and the family never know from day to day how the illness is next going to manifest itself. It requires a day-by-day faith to carry on with courage.
                Currently both Carol and her husband are again facing health issues.  This is the reason that she is on my intensive care prayer list today.  It is difficult to understand why Carol has had to contend with so many challenges in life.  It seems unfair, yet I know that Carol is a woman of great faith.  She keeps on going, even though she does not know what the next day might hold.  She has refused to be held back by fear of the unknown or by the “what ifs” of life.  I feel honoured to have friends like Carol, and it is my joy to be able to accompany her on a difficult journey by my prayers. 
*I have changed Carol’s name but not her story.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Some people are on my intercession list that I know very little about other than their names.  Often they are folks who someone I know has asked me to pray for, but has only given me the briefest of outlines of their needs.  One of these people is a woman whom a colleague at my work asked me to pray for a few months ago.  The woman was to undergo major surgery. My co-worker told me how kind this woman had been to her family and how for many years she has lived with a great deal of pain.  The hope was that the operation would help to reduce some of her pain, although it would not likely solve the problem completely.  The patient’s name was added to my list, along with that of her husband who has also been a huge support to my friend’s family.  I continue to pray for her long after the surgery is over, because I know it takes a long time for the body to heal completely.  When I sense a nudging from the Spirit that it is time to leave her in God’s hands so that He can provide someone else to pray for her, if necessary, I remove her name from my list. 
            Friends and acquaintances sometimes request prayers for family members.  Two close friends have recently asked for my intercession for their adult children who are experiencing problems in their marriages.  Domestic problems like these tear at the hearts of parents who can do little but stand by and pray for the intimate relationships of their children. 
            One of the couples faced a significant rupture in their relationship the day that their children saw their father acting inappropriately with a woman who was not their mother in a public place.  They came home to their mother crying their eyes out.  The wife felt she had no choice but to request that her husband cool his heels elsewhere, until they had a chance to think over their situation.  It is so sad to see the pain generated for the whole family in these kinds of situations. Only the grace of God can turn the situation around for the good of anyone. 
            The other couple is dealing with the addiction of one of the members of the couple that is causing economic hardship for the whole family.  The children are younger and may not be aware of the reason for the problems in their household.  They only feel the tension between their parents.  My prayer is for both the children of this couple and the parents.  Again, the situation seems impossible unless the parent with the addiction is willing to seek help. Yet, with all my heart, I continue to believe even such a gloomy situation can be changed if the couple will in some way move to invite the Lord to be involved in their relationship. 
            In these kinds of situations, we often believe we know how we should pray.  In some cases, our assumptions may be accurate.  Again, however, I remember we really know only a little of the whole situation and God alone knows it all.  He loves each of the members of these young families even more than the parents who have asked me to pray, love them.  Thus we can tell Him how we see the situation, and then ask Him in His wisdom and mercy to communicate with them in a way they will understand, We ask that His Spirit work out the murky situation for the good of all concerned.  To pray that way seems an idealistic and impossible denial of reality. Yet, I have seen God do remarkable things in the lives of people in these kinds of situations.  As the Apostle Paul says, “He does more than we can ask or even imagine.”  The word hopeless is not part of his vocabulary.