Saturday, September 5, 2015
Within the past few months, I experienced a complicated, serious, infectious illness that backed me into a corner where surrender to God's sovereign will became my only option. As I struggled to process and accept my dilemma, I fervently asked God to open the eyes of my heart so I could see Him more clearly. Little did I know, His presence would be magnified through His beautiful children--family, friends, neighbors and strangers.
While feeling especially alone during one of my bad days, I came across this story in a book authored by Sue Monk Kidd, God's Joyful Surprise. She writes:
"One of my favorite sermon stories is about a little girl who went to play with her friend Marcy. She was late returning home and her mother met her at the door. 'Why are you late?' she asked. 'Marcy's puppy got lost,' the little girl replied. 'Did you stay to help her find it?' the mother asked. 'Oh, no,' she said. 'I stayed to help her cry.'"
So with a desperate need for additional support, maybe even someone "to help me cry," I did something I would not normally do because I don't particularly like to be transparent in a public format. I posted a brief, rather timid message on my Facebook Timeline requesting prayer.
I was not expecting to be overwhelmed, but that is exactly what happened. The generosity of heart, the immediate willingness to pray for me, the sincere concern for my well being from my dear Facebook friends brought a burst of tears to my eyes.
The eyes of my heart were opened wide and I saw and encountered God through others. As they entered His presence through prayer on my behalf, they brought me into His presence as well. Their prayers became my prayers. Intercessory prayer is loving cooperation with what Jesus, who will never leave us or forsake us, is already doing in a person's life. It is meant to expand and intensify His presence in the mind and heart of those who pray and the individual on the receiving end. I truly was comforted by their concern and lifted up by their prayers.
To be the recipient of a chorus of prayers is both unique and humbling. The effect is profound and long-lasting. Usually this sort of intercession is an infrequent occurrence since it's prompted by a serious and traumatic event in someone's life. More often than not, there aren't a lot of details provided when the urgent call for prayer goes out. Having all the facts isn't necessary because the pivotal purpose of the prayer being offered is not to fix something. It's simply enough to know someone is hurting and to express heartfelt compassion and empathy, to be with a fellow human being in spirit, "to stay and help them cry."
What a fascinating, miraculous dynamic! With this form of prayer, we "experience God in spontaneous community," to again quote Sue Monk Kidd. She goes on to say, "Every prayer is important, primarily to the one for whom we pray, but it's important for us too. For in intercession we yield ourselves to God, sharing in His compassion and opening ourselves to His presence."