In the morning I will plead before you and wait. (Psalm 5:4)
In this era of pandemic and fear, intercessory prayer has never been more important—and possibly one of the few options that many of us can turn to when we want to help people who might be struggling.
I don’t know about you, but I have always enjoyed doing something practical to help someone in need. Like bringing a meal to a neighbor who has just come home with a new a baby. Or volunteering time at my children’s school or local charity. Or boxing up clothes for a family who has lost everything in a fire. Or driving a friend to her chemo treatment. Acts of kindness like these are tangible demonstrations of love that can lift me up as well as the person I’m reaching out to.
By contrast, intercession was often hard for me because we don’t always see the results right away—or at all. When I prayed for someone, I used to feel as if I was just tossing requests up into the air, hoping God would hear and offer some kind of help.
But being on the receiving end of other people’s prayers changed my view forever. A few years ago, my husband had to have surgery for cancer. The situation was serious, and the surgery extensive. It involved a long week in the hospital and many more weeks of painful recovery at home. I was never more aware of my weakness and need for hope than during that time.
As the days and weeks went by, however, I noticed that though caring for my husband and young children was physically demanding, I was surprisingly peaceful, even joyful. “How is this possible?” I asked myself. “I can’t even find time to pray, but I still feel God’s presence.”
I realized then that God had heard the prayers of my friends and family. So many were praying for my husband’s recovery and for my strength and sanity—and their prayers made a real, tangible difference!
Many people need our prayers during this difficult time. I suggest that we each find time daily to intercede. It could be for family members or friends who are isolated and lonely. Perhaps for those who have lost jobs or are stressed financially. It could even be for the citizens of a specific country or city or for government leaders and decision-makers, that they will be inspired with creative solutions.
For myself, I have felt drawn to pray for the nurses, doctors, and all the healthcare workers on the front lines of this crisis. So I’ve been praying for their health and strength and that they would continue to be joyful in their work. I am praying that people in every hospital and clinic and laboratory will experience God’s presence. And as I’ve prayed, I’ve felt God’s joy at their heroic efforts, their selflessness, and their persistence.
Intercession is heard. And it is powerful. I experienced it firsthand, and I know we all can.
*At her request, the author’s name has been withheld.