Story: I have been asked to speak on Intercessory Prayer today.
If you ever have a preacher that you don’t particularly like – just ask him to come to a Family Service and talk about intercessory prayer.
Story: A friend of mine, Alun Morris once told a story of a very irreligious man, who he knew in Switzerland.
One Sunday he met him going to a confirmation service. And as the man walked in, Alun watched as he bowed his head for a minute standing in front of the altar. Alun was very impressed.
After the service Alun went up to him and said: I didn’t know you were that religious. I liked the way you prayed up there.
The man looked at Alun furtively and said:
Well actually I didn’t pray, I just counted from one to ten.
So what is intercessory prayer?
Richard Foster in his book entitled “Prayer” has this to say about intercessory prayer
“If we truly love people, we will desire for them far more than it is within our power to give them, and this will lead us to prayer. Intercession is a way of loving others.
When we move from petition to intercession we are shifting our centre of gravity from our own needs to the needs and concerns of others.” (Richard Foster: Prayer p.204)
Story: If you are getting bored of my sermon already - you can blame my Auntie Molly.
Auntie Molly was a Roman Catholic nun – in a closed Benedictine Order.
She habitually used to pray for my father and mother and my sister, Sue, brother Eddie and me.
As my father used to say – and I used to agree – “what a sad waste of a life.”
For 16 years of my life she faithfully prayed for me without apparently any result.
Yet in January 1972 – just a few months before my 17th Birthday, I became a committed Christian.
Auntie Molly’s prayers had been answered.
Today, my sister and I are both committed Christians in part because of Auntie Molly’s prayers.
Story: In 1940, General Sir William Dobbie was appointed Governor General of Malta – at a time when the defence of Malta (during the Second World War) was at its darkest hour.
The Italian forces had overwhelming superiority, both in numbers and firepower.
Malta was the key stop over for the convoys that went from Gibraltar to Alexandria in Egypt. The convoys that kept Montgomery’s 8th Army going.
Yet Malta never fell to the enemy – and for their
courageous stand - the whole island was awarded the George Cross.
Historians still cannot understand why the Italians did not take the island, given its strategic position.
Dobbie, a committed Christian, realised the weakness of his position and that God alone was “his present help in trouble”.
His first “Special Order of the Day”, defining policy governing the defence of the island included the following:
"I therefore call upon all officers and other ranks humbly to seek God’s help and then in reliance upon Him to do their duty unflinchingly.
(A Very Present Help – Sir William Dobbie p. 11-12)
Dobbie was a member of the Brethren – a free church and he was a great intercessor.
I went for a walk on Thursday night with the dogs
and a collage of Bible verses went through my mind.
Here are just a couple of these verses:
The first: When the disciples were unable to cast out a particular demon out, Jesus said to them:
“But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” (Mt 17:21)
And the other verse is from the Book of Revelation:
And when he had taken (the seven seal book of Divine Counsel), the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. (Rev 5:8)
Why does God rate prayer.
I don’t know why He does.
All I know is that He does.
And in our second reading today from 1 Timothy 2, St. Paul commands us to pray - to intercede
2. Especially for those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
Prayer is our access to a great God. Yet we don’t rate it highly do we?
As I was praying over at Mike and Sylvia’s earlier in the week I had a picture of Intercessory Prayer.
If the sausage represents the person being prayed for – the bread represents Intercessory Prayer
Jesus is our great Example of being an Intercessor. In our secdond reading from 1 Tim 2 Paul says:
5For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, (1 Tim 2:5)
He prays on our behalf.
Next Thursday (20th May 2004) is Ascension Day. Why is Ascension Day important.
Because it was at the Ascension that Jesus has ascended to his Father in heaven and sits on his right hand INTERCEDING FOR US.
Intercessory prayer draws us closer to the heart of our heavenly Father.
Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, as he looked toward the horror of the Crucifixion said this:
"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." (Lk 22:42)
That’s what intercessory prayer is all about – doing the will of the Father. Supporting others in your prayers.
In a few moments we are going to have the opportunity to pray for others as Sylvia leads us in a “Collage of Prayer”.