One area of Christian life that seems to me was not given enough attention in my spiritual formation is the ministry of intercession—the prayers that we pray for those who are close to us, who are significant to us, or who merely cross our lives. It is not that I don’t think intercession is important: even though God is sovereign and works his plans to completion in all of us, there is something about intercessory prayer that is an effective part of those plans and that completion. I may not be able to understand it, but I have experienced God’s work in response to the prayers that I have made on behalf of others. It is also not that I have not practiced intercession—of a sort. One of my parishioners once talked about her prayer life being a series of “arrow prayers”: “God bless so-and-so, whom you have brought to mind.” Much of my intercessory prayer life has been made up of “arrow prayers” also.
The problem is that I want my intercessory prayers to be more significant than a mere “arrow”. I would like for my intercession to be substantive, to demonstrate to myself and to God how important this person is. An “arrow” prayer seems like the spiritual equivalent of tossing some spare change toward a person in need.
Years ago, Ruby Cline, the wife of our Area Minister, gave a workshop on intercessory prayer in which she gave me a tool that I have used ever since to pray over my entire extended family, my entire church family, or all of my students at the language school. Ruby taught me to pray as follows:
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, encircle ______ with your Spirit.”
This is still somewhat of an “arrow” prayer, but it seems more significant, more urgent, more personal than simply “God bless so-and-so”.
For many years I used this as my “go to” prayer, but I still felt that I wanted something different. At one point in my ministry, I needed to reach out into the surrounding community with some sort of evangelistic outreach. I began to walk in the neighborhoods around the church and to pray over each home that I passed by, as I would leave a flyer on the door that announced the church’s programs. As I prepared the flyers, I was inspired to a new prayer that works for both friends and strangers. I would like to share this prayer with you, and offer it for you to use in enhancing your own ministry of intercession.
Dear God, I pray for this family (or person):
Give them peace at home
Bless the work of their hands
Guide their decisions
Be present in their relationships
Care for their health
Provide for their needs
Give them strength to face their difficulties
Draw near to them in grace and love
Draw them near to you in faith and obedience.
In Jesus’s name, Amen.