5. A General Prayer of Intercession
As we give ourselves to pray for our world, it can be difficult to discern the exact topic we should hold in prayer. Praying for the world may, at times, feel daunting. Beyond prayers for peace, healing, distress, and the knowledge of Christ, there are environmental concerns, issues of injustice and poverty, the right use of scientific advancement, and the correct governance of the people (just to name a few). There is so much we could pray for!
A general intercession is a prayer that gives voice to a myriad of topics, all with the aim of releasing Christ’s power in the world. It is rooted in the belief that God already knows the needs of this world. It is therefore useful in those times when we do not know what to pray for, or what words we should use.
Be mindful, O Lord, of all thy people bowed before thee, and of those who are absent through age, sickness, or infirmity. Care for the infants, guide the young, support the aged, encourage the faint-hearted, collect the scattered, and bring the wandering to thy fold. Travel with the voyagers, defend the widows, shield the orphans, deliver the captives, heal the sick. Succor all who are in tribulation, necessity, or distress. Remember for good all those what love us, and those that hate us, and those that have desired us, unworthy as we are, to pray for them. And those whom we have forgotten, do thou, O Lord, remember. For thou are the helper of the helpless, the savior of the lost, the refuge of the wanderer, the healer of the sick. Thou, who knowest each need, and hast heard our prayer, grant unto each according to thy merciful loving-kindness and thy eternal love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer).
In the end, we need to make all these prayers our own. We are to add our own voice as the Spirit prompts us. The above prayers serve as guides for us when we want to pray in a particular way. Or, if we can’t fashion the words ourselves, the above prayers can serve as our own voice. In the end, however, prayer is about the longing of the hearts not the words of our mouths.
The dynamic between the Spirit’s power and the impact of our prayers can be hard to understand. It is not like Jesus sits on the sidelines of the world until His people call him into action. The Holy Spirit is continually at work. We do not make God act. The reason we pray for our world is because we are invited to participate in what God is doing. In love, God encourages us to join in the work of the Kingdom. Yes, God can do all things without our help. Yet because God is gracious and loving, God desires our prayers to be a part of that work. Our prayers have an impact on the world because God desires our prayers to have an impact.
Given this promise, let us pray.
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