Saturday, October 29, 2011

Intercession for the Sick

            Whenever a group gathers to pray together, inevitably some prayer requests will be for those who are ill.  I guess that should not surprise us with them great emphasis in our society on having a healthy lifestyle. 
            Although we have wonderful medical care available in the western world, there is a limit to what the best-trained practitioners or most sophisticated medical equipment can provide until a clear diagnosis of the problem unfolds.  Awaiting an accurate diagnosis is often one of the most stressful aspects of being ill.  Our imaginations seem to run wild and we fear the worst until we are able to discover what is not working as it ought in our bodies.  The only one who really knows all about our bodies is the Maker of them and thus it does seem logical to approach him about our worries while we wait for those who have been taught the necessary medical skills to figure it out.   Thus, we bring the problem to him in prayer. 
            When we receive the diagnosis, we then need to discover the most appropriate treatment for the illness.  Even here, many possible alternatives play a role.  What is currently available is key.  Also, what treatments or medications our bodies can tolerate determine what will be done given the imbalance that can arise in the whole body chemistry following the introduction of new elements to our systems.  Again, divine wisdom applied to the situation will be of great benefit to the health care professionals, so it is logical to make this also a matter of prayer.
            Perhaps behind these problems associated with being ill is also the base fear.  Sometimes disease can lead to death and we may be forced to confront our mortality.  This forces us to consider our views about eternity.  For this reason we bring our fears to the one who has the final word on life and death. When our fears drive us to prayer, we can face reality.
            My list of intensive care prayer requests includes those for whom I pray because of illness.  One is a young mother who herself has been ill and who recently lost her husband to illness. As well as praying for her healing, I need to pray for her in her grief and for the challenge she faces trying to raise her two sons on her own, uncertain of her own future.    
Another person in this group is not ill herself, but a couple of months ago a chronic disease claimed the life of her son in his forties after many years of suffering.  She is currently facing the possibility of having to place her husband in a care facility because of his dementia.  While I pray for her husband, I also pray for grace and strength for her to be able to deal with the challenges that have come her way. 
A third friend has been battling many different forms of cancer for several years and this enemy that she has had to contend with took her only sister just last year.  She wonders how long she will be able to prevail in the fight and is so grateful for the prayers of support for her in her battle with this dreaded disease. 
            When we take seriously the opportunity to intercede for those who are ill, we engage in a complex series of issues that can be highly charged emotionally.  Where we know what specifically to pray for we can do so, but sometimes all we can do is place the suffering person in the hands of a God who loves them more than they can imagine and that is enough. 

Your thoughts? 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mutual Intercession

          We met at the Write-to-Publish Conference at Wheaton College, just outside Chicago.  I think it was my second time attending this writers’ conference so I had overcome some of my fear at going alone to such an event.  After hastily dropping my luggage in my assigned dorm room, I hurried over to the auditorium for the initial session, arriving just as the program was beginning.  I was just nicely settled into a plush chair, three seats from the aisle near the back of the auditorium, when I spotted the newcomer.  Her brow furrowed in bewilderment made me suspect this was her first time at the conference.  Remembering how intimidated I felt a year earlier, I beckoned to her to join me, pointing to the empty seat on my right.  As she took her place, I leaned over and whispered, “Welcome.” 
            I had no idea this was the beginning of a mutual intercession destined to support each of us as we faced stormy waters in our personal lives over the next fifteen years.  Her trials included a broken marriage and the challenges of raising her three children on her own.  Among mine were the broken body and bruised spirit of my son, paralyzed by a freak car accident. 
            After that first session of the conference, we grabbed coffees and sat down on the steps of the auditorium, enjoying the warmth of the June evening as we shared a little about our backgrounds and writing experiences.  As it turned out, we did not choose any of the same electives to attend during the conference.  However, we kept running into each other in the general sessions, or at meals or walking across the campus.   It seemed we just kept showing up in the same places. 
            Just after the Awards banquet, near the end of the conference, my new friend approached me and said, “I am an intercessor.” 
            “Great!”  I replied.  “I am an intercessor too.”  She continued,  “I feel God is calling me to intercede for you. “ How strange and yet how encouraging, I thought to myself.  We discovered that we were both part of the same international intercessors group. We exchanged e-mail addresses, so that I could share my prayer concerns with her, and I decided to add her to my prayer list as well, and left promising to pray for her and her family. 
            Our correspondence back and forth over the years is scarce.  About the only time, we contact each other, except at Christmas when we share with one another our prayer concerns.  I feel like her children are precious to me, even thought I have not seen them since they came to pick her up with their father at the end of that first conference.  Yet, I have prayed daily for them through the years. I feel I have had the opportunity to invest in their lives in this way.  My friend and I both published articles in the magazine put out by our intercessors group.  The bonds that unite us exert a strong vertical pull. 
            How grateful I am she took the risk to tell me about the nudge she felt, when the Spirit called her to support me in prayer.  We are truly soul sisters.  

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Intercession for the Boss

               When we are working for a boss that we really enjoy working with, it is a joy to be able to include their name in our lists for intercession.  However, when the relationship is not one where we feel a sense of camaraderie and pleasure in working for the same ends, it is more difficult. 
                This relationship is not like a friendship where there can be give and take and if we drift apart, the consequences need not be that serious.  Rather, this relationship can shape our everyday lives. 
                If we have a boss with whom, although we may not have a  personal friendship, we are nevertheless able to enjoy a relationship of mutual respect and perhaps even encouragement, to pray for them does not require a great deal of effort on our part.
                However, it is not always that way.  We may work with a boss, for whom we feel respect or even admiration at times, but at other times, we are confused and not at all sure, what their modus operandi is.  Then it may not be quite so easy to pray for them. Faithfulness if prayer for them requires that we remember them on both the good days and the bad.
                At the far end of the spectrum is the boss, who causes us to pray for ourselves every day, so we can respond in a respectful manner to their interactions with us.  To pray for such a boss may be harder, as we would rather curse them than bless them.  We may need to precede our prayers for them with prayers for our own attitudes, so that we do not respond by lashing out at them for the way that we feel they are treating us. 
                As with all challenging  relationships, praying for a supervisor with whom we have a difficult relationships, demands that we ask for a spirit of discernment to try to understand ways that we may be creating tensions in the relationship.  When we are convinced that our own attitude is not the catalyst, we then can pray for the needs of our superior, aware that they may be struggling with issues that are completely outside our awareness. 
                Each morning, as I pray for those to whom I am accountable in my various responsibilities, I am grateful to say that at this time, I am able to offer gratitude for the respectful manner in which I am usually treated.  It has not always been that way and it may not always be so, but for the moment, I can be grateful that this is my situation.