Let Us Pray: Interceding for One Another

Mother hugging a child

Years ago, when any of my four children would run crying to me because of an injury or a fight, there was a good likelihood that I could make things better. But even when I could not, I knew I could pick them up and hold them tight for as long as they would let me. And while this did not take away the pain, holding each other physically certainly brought peace to both of our hearts—and often a smile to any teary faces. 

As tough as it was to hurt when my children hurt, that painful empathy was nothing compared to the challenges of being a parent of adult children when they are in trouble, suffering, or hopeless. I hear the pain in their voices, the distress in their words, yet time and again I can “do” nothing to fix it—except offering to pray for them. Thank God that’s the best thing I can do! 

Holding anyone I love in prayer is perhaps the hardest of all weights to carry, even more difficult than going through the suffering myself. By bringing the situation or the person in need directly to God, I also join the communion of saints in praying for them. This is a powerful prayer! Without using theological jargon, hearing my grandmother’s compassionate prayers for others taught me intercessory prayer. 

A Manifestation of Genuine Love

This may sound commonsensical, but prayers of intercession are not the same as prayers for myself. In intercessory prayer, I’m not asking for any sort of personal favor. Instead, I speak to God on behalf of another and their petition, be it a person, situation, or a community. In this way, reflecting on someone else and interceding for them is a manifestation of genuine love for another. 

Intercessory prayer also reminds me that I am not in charge, that more often than not, there is nothing that I can “do” for someone in need. 

But intercession is not only praying for someone else’s needs. It is holding that person or situation in prayer—with trust and confidence that God will take care of all, and that whatever happens next, it will all be well. It’s an intimate petition to our Father in heaven. This is praying to the Father as Jesus did. 

A Long-Standing Tradition

Intercessory prayers are a long-standing practice in the Christian and Hebrew traditions. Both Moses and Abraham, for example, interceded several times on behalf of the Jewish people to the Lord, pleading for him to show once again his love and mercy. In Genesis (18: 16–33), Abraham persistently intercedes with God to save the evil city of Sodom, where his nephew Lot and Lot’s family resided. 

There are many instances of Moses’ intercessory prayers as he led the Israelites out of captivity and into the desert. After crossing the Red Sea, for instance, the people grumbled because they were thirsty. Moses “appealed to the Lord” for them, and God provided them instantly with fresh water (Ex 15:25). When the people built themselves a molten calf and pronounced it as their god, Moses once again interceded on their behalf before an angry Lord: “Why, O Lord, should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a strong hand? Remember [your promise] . . . ‘I will give your descendants as their perpetual heritage’” (Ex 32:11, 13). 

From its beginning, the church of Christian believers interceded in prayer—for people, for safe travel, for spiritual growth, for healing, for understanding. In the Gospel of John, for example, Jesus himself assures us of his own intercession on our behalf: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always” (Jn 14:16). He also showed us how to do it: “I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one” (Jn 17:15). Even from the cross, Jesus advocates and intercedes on behalf of those who persecuted him—and, indeed, for all of us who have turned away from him: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34). 

The letters of St. Paul are replete with his constant intercessory prayers for the struggling new church communities, as well as the saint’s requests for their prayers on his personal behalf. And he instructs all believers to pray for one another: “First of all, then, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone. . . . This is good and pleasing to God our savior” (1 Tm 2:1, 3). 


Prayer

For our world, Lord, we pray:  
May we recognize you in one another. 
For our local communities, we pray:  
May we choose the common good  
and reject evil. 
For our families, we pray:  
May we be comfort to all who need physical, emotional, or spiritual healing.


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1 thought on “Let Us Pray: Interceding for One Another”

  1. Antonio Alonso

    Hi, Maria
    I hope this message finds you well

    My name is Antonio Jorge Alonso Campuzano
    I’m a Peter Pan niño and I recently read your article, “No Greater Love” and, I want to thank you

    MAs que gracias for telling our story

    I’m having difficulties accessing the Peter Pan Data base so I can share my profile with my family
    Anything you can do to help me, I would mucho appreciate it

    Te deseo todo lo bueno y mucho éxito con tus planes futuros
    Muchas bendiciones y saludos para todos

    Tony Alonso
    Tulsa Community College
    Dean of Student Affairs (Retired)
    Dean of Community Outreach and Civic Engagement (Retired)

    Post Retirement:
    Adjunct Faculty
    Interpreter
    Instructor Los Angeles Dodgers Major League Baseball
    Consulting Services in Higher Education

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