Each week our liturgy includes the Prayers of the People, in which we are bidden to pray for “the Church and the world.” Generally, the prayers offered during this sacred time are intercessory because we are praying for someone or some situation outside ourselves. This past week I had the opportunity to join with our pastoral care ministry team in reflecting on intercessory prayer. We shared positive, negative, and disappointing experiences based on our work of intercession over the years.
While what ultimately happens in intercessory prayer is something mysterious, through reading and discussion our group made several observations about how this prayer deepens our spiritual journey:
- We become more aware of the needs of the world, which in turn increases our compassion, generosity, and responses to injustice.
- We cope with our feelings of anxiety and powerlessness.
- In asking for intercession, we acknowledge periods of helplessness and fear in our own lives.
- We discover the presence of Jesus abiding in the places of suffering.
- We share in Christ’s work of intercession to God the Father.
- We learn, at times, to join Mary at the foot of the cross, bearing witness to another’s suffering.
- We connect those suffering with the broader Body of Christ in Christian community.
I invite you to be intentional about your practice of intercessory prayer; consider keeping a list and/or responding to spontaneous urges of the Spirit when the image of someone in need crosses your mind. I also encourage you to avail yourself of the opportunities for intercessory prayer here at St. Peter’s. At the 10:45 am Eucharist, healing ministers are available immediately after communion in the Healing Ministries Room adjacent to the Parlor. Wednesdays at 10:00 am in the same location, a small group meets to offer prayers of intercession.
Through our prayers and presence, we will continue to live in the vision of being “a beacon of hope in Center City Charlotte.”
The Reverend Deacon Joslyn Ogden Schaefer, Associate Rector