Liturgy: The Prayer of Intercession
Christmas is around the corner. I am sure many parents reading this are currently flooded with all sorts of requests for the latest tech gadgets. If you are a husband, maybe the wife has hinted at her desire for some shiny things. Wives, maybe your husbands are looking for some tools that will, of course, be used in the fulfillment of your desires for some work to be done around the house. But, perhaps you are someone who does not enjoy this season because you frankly do not poses the means to meet the desires of those whom you love; they ask, but you just do not know if you can make it happen. No matter who you are or what situation you are in, you and others around you want something and you hope that someone somewhere will have the means to meet that desire. We all have desires. It is often a matter as to whether someone is capable of meeting those desires. The life of the Christian church is no different. As Christians in the church, our desires often pertain to deeper needs. The question is: who do we ask and what do we ask for?
In our series on liturgy, we have covered a variety of prayers and Scripture readings, what a sermon is and why it matters, and the meaning of those ordinances and their importance in Christian worship. We have also talked about the nature of worship; worship is a living dialogue with the God that calls us, hears us, and responds to us as we respond to Him. In this next part, we are considering the prayer of intercession. The prayer of intercession is that time in our service in which we come to God and ask Him for things that are in accordance with His will. Two things are to be kept in mind in this regard.
First, we come to God. As said above, we are often short in means to meet some desire or need of those around us. They come and ask us, but sometimes we cannot meet the need. In the prayer of intercession we come to the Lord our God. We come to the al-sufficient, powerful, mighty God. We come to our loving, gracious, merciful, and good God. Why? Why do we come to God? Because God can meet a need! Our God loves His people and desires to meet their needs. When we meet the needs of others, we necessarily have to divest ourselves of something in order to meet the request. But, this is not the case with the Lord. The infinite and eternal God does not divest or lose anything in order to meet His children’s needs. Because He is absolute fullness, we can know and trust that in His good absolute fullness He is able to meet the needs brought to Him.
Second, we come in this prayer to God and we ask. This is a time in which we wholly depend on God by asking Him to meet a need. Think about it in terms of a funnel. A funnel starts big at the top and gradually narrows down near the bottom. This is the scope of our prayer. We ask God for big things as well as little things, for things global as well as things local. New Church plants, global church partners, the persecuted church in other countries to name a few church related things. We also ask God for things common to all mankind. We ask God to heal the sick. We ask God for peace between the church and governing authorities. We ask God to work in the hearts of governing authorities to protect the weak and uphold righteous laws. Additionally, we ask God to actively meet the needs of those in the congregation. We ask God to heal marriages, bring peace to those who are restless, comfort those who are lonely, and provide for those who are in material need. Why do we ask God? Because we know He cares and He delights in meeting the needs of His church.
Lastly, we come to God in this prayer and we ask Him for things according to His will. There is often much confusion about what God’s will is. We ask: “what is God’s will for my life?” Sometimes we sit around in crippling confusion waiting to hear God’s will for us. The reality is: everything God wants us to know about His will He revealed in His Scriptures. Now, that does not mean that God tells us in the Bible what house to buy, what job to take, or what we should eat for dinner. But, everything we need to know to wisely make those decisions are revealed in His Word. When we ask God for things, we need to ask ourselves: is what I am asking for in line with what God reveals? Am I asking for something God will Himself delight in? Am I asking out of selfishness? Am I asking out of unbridled fear? Am I trusting God to meet my needs, even if He meets them in ways I do not expect? Am I ready to be content if the answer is “no” or “not yet?” When we come to God and ask Him for things according to His will, we come humbly prepared for His answer. And, our prayerful words ought always to be tinted with Christ’s words: “Not my will, but yours be done.” So, we want to ask God for things that will please Him. Let us confess together that the Lord knows what is best and that His will is best.
Friends, when we come to the Lord each and every Sunday worship service to ask Him for something, know that our God is able; that there is no person or being more readily able to meet the needs of His people. Let us ask Him to meet people’s needs all around the world and right next door to us. And, let us humbly trust Him, that His will is best. All people everywhere have desires and needs. What an opportunity we have as God’s church to come to Him in prayer and ask Him to work His will in our hearts, lives, and contexts and in those around us. Let us make known our requests to God, together.