Intercessory prayer, what a beautiful blessing for all concerned! A number of years ago I had the privilege on two different occasions to speak in a fine church in the New Orleans area. In my studies of the Scriptures, I had become intrigued with a number of Jewish customs and traditions and holy days and how much (unbeknownst to them) they all pointed to Christ. So, I considered it to be a great honor that they would ask me to share some of my findings with their congregation! Not only did I consider it a great honor, but I also really looked forward to spending time with some dear friends who had been called away from our fellowship and were now ministering at that church. I felt God was giving me a double blessing.
As it turned out, early in that first trip God had yet another blessing in store for me for which I didn’t ask nor did I anticipate in any fashion. But through His amazing grace He merely wanted to shower me another special blessing for which I am still thankful. Wow! God is so good. While in New Orleans our loving God introduced me to another fine brother who was one of His young ministers in training at that church. He and his wife were so delightful. Our spirits seemed to immediately bear witness with each other. Our new found friendship continued to grow during the duration of our stays there. As God would have it, the theme of one of my messages aroused considerable interest in him and brought about a couple of lengthy discussions between us. We had a wonderful time sharing similar instances in our lives which served to further validate my thoughts and increase our faith and love for God. When it came time to leave, he came to see us off. He brought along a corrugated box containing several nice books on the subjects which he wanted me to have. We shared a parting prayer and went on our separate ways.
Several months passed after that with our only contact being by phone. Then on a day that seemed to be totally routine, I casually got ready for work, had breakfast and headed out to my office. This was Fay’s day to go to the beauty salon. At breakfast, she commented that she sure didn’t feel like spending such a long day—a day which included both a full work schedule plus squeezing in that trip to the beauty salon during her lunch hour. She even said something to the effect that she felt so bad that she’d much rather go back to bed than to tend to either of her obligations for the day. I’m sure all of us have experienced days such as that, so we can easily empathize with her.
I had only been at work a couple of hours when my new minister friend called and asked if I had plans for the day. Since there were no pressing needs, I told him it was just a normal work day and said, “why do you ask?”. He told me that he was at a Christian encampment near the Dallas area and wondered if I could meet him for a little while. I was so thrilled at the thought and, thankfully my schedule allowed my to drive out and visit with him for a couple of hours.
We met in the dining area of the encampment (to be near the goodies) where our conversation seemed to pick up right where we left off during our visits in New Orleans. We began sharing findings on Jewish religious customs that we had discovered since our last discussions. The time seemed to fly by and I needed to get back to the office. But, before we parted, he asked how Fay was doing. I commented that I sorta felt sorry for her since she was probably having an uncomfortable day. He then suggested that we go to the outdoor chapel and pray before I left. We did, just the two of us. We knelt down in the dirt and began to pray. During our prayer time, he led a compassionate intercessory prayer on Fay’s behalf. His pastoral prayer was so sincere that my emotions flew off the chart. I couldn’t help but shed tears. What a blessed time that was!
At the end of our work day, I could hardly wait to get home and tell Fay of my unexpected experience.. “Guess who I got to visit with today!” “I don’t know. Who?” “Russell!” Then I began to recall how good it was to see him again what a wonderful visit we had together. Then, seemingly out of the clear blue sky, she asked, “Did y’all pray?” “Yes, we did.” “Did you pray for me?” “As a matter of fact, we did. Why do you ask?” Then she continued, “Was it at about (and told me the time)?” I thought back and, sure enough, it was at about that exact hour. Then she began to relate how she was sitting under the dryer, munching on a little snack, wishing she didn’t have to return to work, when she suddenly felt her weariness and depression lifted. It was like a new day had dawned. Wow! How awesome it that! That whole chain of events led to a day I shall never forget.
Looking back, I’m sure that Satan would love to explain that little miracle away. He would try to convince me of the mere fact that simply because she was relaxing comfortably under the dryer, munching on a snack, her weariness and depression would just naturally go away. But happily I can assure you that I’ll never be convinced of that lie. There were too many unusual circumstances all coming together at that exact time and place for it to be no more than mere ‘coincidence’. As in all such events, only our loving God could synchronize all them together so perfectly. To believe otherwise is like believing there is no God… “The fool has said in his heart, There is no God (Psalm 53:1 NKJV).”
In pondering that remarkable scenario, I have often wondered, “Have you ever had a dear servant of God put his arms around you and plead to our loving Father in your behalf?” O My! What an unbelievable, unspeakable source of strength and encouragement that can be. And then to witness (up close and personally) as God answers that prayer right before our eyes—mere words simply cannot describe the victorious feelings such experiences can bring.
To a similar extent, the same holds true even when the roles are reversed. During the days when I was privileged to teach an adult Bible class, there were several occasions when a hurting brother or sister would tearfully request us to pray for them. What a privilege for us to call them to the center of the room. The whole class would gather around, join hands and pray for them. Such sessions never failed to become quite emotional, often bathed with our own tears. And then, to witness the fact that God heard our fervent prayers, showing us that He truly loved and cared for us by unmistakeably answering our prayers right before our eyes. He keeps all our tears in a bottle! He never fails.
Taking it one giant step forward, our compassionate Savior, our Lord, is sitting at the right hand of the Father right this very minute, making intercession for us. He loves so much that He died for us, and now according to Hebrews 7:25 He ever lives to make intercession for us. Wow! Can you just feel Him put His arms around you and plead to our Father on your behalf, “I was there! I was tempted in all ways like they are! I know first hand how tough it can be! Please forgive them!” Oh, my goodness! No situation is too big, too heinous to escape His sincere love for us. A perfect example of that can be seen while He was hanging on the cross. Even then, He was making intercession for His ruthless executioners, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:34 NASB).”
Intercessory prayer—Wow! What a wonderful, saving, healing tool that proves to be! God is so good!