The Word Among Us

October 2009 Issue

The Heart of an Intercessor

Whether we choose fasting or simple intercession, whether we are praying with someone for healing or interceding for issues like abortion or euthanasia, there are a few elements we need to keep in mind.

These elements have more to do with our disposition than with the mechanics or how-tos of intercession. In the end, it really doesn’t matter what “technique” we choose. As we can see below, it all comes down to the state of our hearts.

Quality over Quantity. As much as we have talked about quantity—that is, persistence—the quality of our prayer is just as important. Jesus warned: “Do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words” (Matthew 6:7). Praying a simple Our Father with the right disposition is far more powerful (6:9-13). In the end, it is our sincerity, love, and compassion for the person we are praying for that will win the day. Of course, we should not underestimate the value of persistence. We just can’t think that persistence alone will help much.

Be Clear-Minded. About twenty years ago, our publisher, Joe Difato, learned that his four-year-old daughter, Christine, was suffering from retinal cancer. Christine ended up needing numerous treatments and still lost her eyes in the process. When Joe first received the diagnosis, he became angry with God. It wasn’t until some of his closest friends in the Lord prayed with him that he was able to come to terms with Christine’s diagnosis and move forward in helping her and in recommitting himself to the Lord. He needed people who were more clear-minded to help him through this painful time. If we find ourselves too bound up in anxiety or anger over a situation, it is very helpful to seek the counsel and support of friends who are not affected as deeply as we are.

Pray in Secret. Sometimes it’s good to pray our prayers of intercession in public, as we do at Mass. Sometimes it’s good to pray with other people in a less formal setting. But sometimes it’s good to pray in secret, where we are all alone with the Lord and can pour out our hearts before him. It’s in these situations that we may be more likely to sense God’s presence in our hearts and to receive his comfort or his guidance.