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fatherman

Intercessory Prayer

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I don't know how/if intercessory prayer works. There are always accounts of prayers having an effect in *some* cases. And there are also documented accounts, especially in the field of medicine, where prayer has not had an effect. I can live with the ambiguity of saying, "I don't know if intercessory prayer works or not."

 

What turns me off is when prayer is claimed to *usually* have an effect, such as the motto, "Prayer Works!" or "Prayer Changes Things!". These mottos are mostly prevalent in evangelical circles. Remember the "Prayer of Jabez" that was all the rage a few years ago? People were using that as a "formula" to, supposedly, get God to bless them. I simply don't see God as a genie-in-the-sky that will give us what we want if we have enough faith or say the right words or claim promises from bible verses. The notion behind intercessory prayer is a good one, hoping for the best in people and situations. But the kind of God I believe in doesn't work the way these "name it and claim it" people seem to believe it does.

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To me, i see the benefit of intercessory prayer to the other in the cases where it is asked for.  In my experience, people don't usually ask for something unless they believe it works or is at least possible. Belief opens one up to possibilities that are normally not even looked into by people who disbelieve.

As an example, a friend needed a job badly but believed he had little talent in the area he wanted to enter so when an opportunity came his way to interview, he talked himself out of going (one excuse after another why he was not qualified). Consequently, he never got the job. (duh)  Reaching the end of his rope he asked me to intercede and pray  for a job in that area. It seemed he believed more in the power of my prayer than his own for whatever reason. Anyway, we prayed and i interceded on his behalf and his confidence that my prayers would be heard opened the possibility enough in him that he went to the next job interview in that area (computer repair) and was hired and has been working for that company over 10 years now. As Jesus often told people, thy faith has made thee whole or according to your faith it is done. What i am trying to say is perhaps it was that individual's faith in the power of prayer through me that gave him confidence to at least interview. Without that intercessory prayer or another way for his belief to change, he was destined to the type of thinking that prevented him from even trying.

 

Just some thoughts after re-reading this thread,

Joseph

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On 10/22/2015 at 4:17 PM, fatherman said:

I've reached a point in my path where I'm just not sure what to do with intercessory prayer. When someone asks me to pray for them, I don't want to say no, but I also just don't know what to do about it. I believe in the power of prayer, but I don't believe in giving God a shopping list of things I or other people want. I've tried and tried and it never works. What has worked for me are prayers of surrender. I also believe in praying with someone who I'm physically present with. My daughter is trying to get a job. She's already interviewed. She asked me to pray. So what do I pray? Do I pray that she gets it? Do I pray that God's will be done? Do I pray for God to be present with her?

I'm just not sure that that's the way that God works. I can encourage her to put it in God's hands. I can counsel her to let go of her worries and accept that it is out of her control. But who am I to know God's "Will" for her? I cannot, and I'm not sure God really cares if she gets the job or not. The God of my understanding is a God of relationship, not choreography. Then again, my understand is so finite. Sometimes, I just do it anyway because I love people.

Thoughts?

I, too, just don't think this is how God works. Traditional prayer seems to tie into a theistic understanding of God, who one can reach and ask for an intervention of sorts in everyday existence. I think that God is immanent in creation and there is no need (nor is it his way) to break into creation (he's already present). Plus, I don't think there is any 'direct' link or communication with God; I believe God can only be know in and through others, in and through creation: the Word calls or summons us in and through the words of men and women. The Word that is God echoes in our words. I have always like the idea of prayer as a focusing or attentiveness as in the example given above. Much like when we prayed to St. Jude to find something that had been lost and then proceeded to tear the house apart. We focused and sprang into action. 

My prayer is for 'God' to be with someone - still theistic I know. My faith acknowledges 'He' already is with them, so it is meant more that the person realizes their possibilities, finds the courage to act, to be and finds the strength to endure if they don't get what they want/need in the moment.

Even with Jesus' prayer to ask and it shall be given, I have often thought that the only thing we can ask for is "thy will be done' and that will is to Love - and it is done when we do it.   I also immediately acknowledge that Jesus did not say this but it is interesting to note when he prayed in the garden for something he desperately wanted in the moment (to escape death), he found the courage to continue and got up and on his way to do the will of the Father (to love unto death). I recognize this might be a gospel writer's creation but it still seems to reflect the reality of the man, Jesus. 

God's will? I often wonder if God has a will for us that covers all the particular needs we have in a lifetime or is it a singular will for us to Be, to Love, to have abundant life? 

A God of relationship not choreography. I like it and it seems to hit the target.

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On 2015-10-23 at 4:17 AM, fatherman said:

I've reached a point in my path where I'm just not sure what to do with intercessory prayer. When someone asks me to pray for them, I don't want to say no, but I also just don't know what to do about it. I believe in the power of prayer, but I don't believe in giving God a shopping list of things I or other people want. I've tried and tried and it never works. What has worked for me are prayers of surrender. I also believe in praying with someone who I'm physically present with. My daughter is trying to get a job. She's already interviewed. She asked me to pray. So what do I pray? Do I pray that she gets it? Do I pray that God's will be done? Do I pray for God to be present with her?

I'm just not sure that that's the way that God works. I can encourage her to put it in God's hands. I can counsel her to let go of her worries and accept that it is out of her control. But who am I to know God's "Will" for her? I cannot, and I'm not sure God really cares if she gets the job or not. The God of my understanding is a God of relationship, not choreography. Then again, my understand is so finite. Sometimes, I just do it anyway because I love people.

Fatherman,

I was just wondering if you could share any developments in your thinking around this topic since you first posted on it?  Have you landed anywhere in particular or still working through it?

Cheers

Paul

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Posted (edited)

Prayer is not magic.  It's a dialogue or a petition.  Focusing on manipulating a definite result in my mind draws away from that.

It's also highly personal.  There's nothing wrong with praying without knowing God's will.   If it's lawful and desired, that is sufficient reason to pray.

Intercessory prayer is not a dominant part of my prayer life as a Lutheran.  It's not the be-all or end-all of ones spiritual life necessarily. 

Edited by FireDragon76
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Asking for knowledge of God's will is in the top ten all-time prayer requests.  

I often pray for evidence of divinity.  Not because I am particularly doubtful, but just because it so wonderful when it happens.

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