It’s not hard to see how many times Scripture talks about the prayer of intercession. For example, Abraham interceded for the people of Sodom (Genesis 18:23-33). James tells us to pray for each other, and even to ask God for miraculous healings (James 5:16). Paul asked the church in Ephesus to pray that the Holy Spirit would give him courage to keep preaching the gospel (Ephesians 6:18-20). And Jesus took the topic to a whole new level when he commanded us to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44).
But why should we pray for people? The obvious answer is that so many people need our prayers. But there’s another answer as well. When we intercede, something happens inside of us. We grow in our love, mercy, and compassion. In other words, we become more like Jesus.
Intercession helps us to reach beyond ourselves, which is exactly how our heavenly Father acts. When we pray for someone, we are saying, “Father, I’m not worrying about myself right now. Instead, I’m devoting my attention to this other person. Lord, hear my prayer!”
With the continued growth of the Internet and other media, the world continues to shrink before our eyes. More than ever, we are able to see a world wounded by poverty, war, division, and loss. From the Gaza Strip to Nicaragua, from South Sudan to Appalachia, so many people are suffering. There seems to be no end to the stories of people living under the burden of some terminal illness, unemployment, abuse, starvation, and loneliness.
This list of despair could go on and on. But we shouldn’t lose hope. Our God is supreme. He knows what is happening—and he’s asking us to help. He’s asking us to set aside time each day to open our hearts and pray for all these needs.
Standing in the Gap. Scripture tells us that God searched far and wide for people who would “build a wall or stand in the breach” between his people and all of these woes (Ezekiel 22:30). In the Old Testament, he found people like the prophet Daniel and the priest Ezra (Daniel 9:1-19; Ezra 9:6-15). Ultimately, he found his own Son, Jesus, who “lives forever to make intercession” for us (Hebrews 7:25).
Today, God is asking us to build the wall and stand in the gap. Every time we celebrate Mass, care for our families, or reach out to those in need, we are helping to build a wall of holiness and love. However, we know that the wall is not complete yet. There are still gaps, as the news constantly reminds us. And so by offering prayers of intercession, we can ask God to protect his people until that day when the wall is complete—the day when Jesus comes again in glory.
So let’s build the wall and stand in the gap today. Let’s pray, “Here I am, Father! I have come to pray for the needs of the Church and the world. Lord, hear our prayer!”