Introduction: 22-28 May 2017
This week, as part of our exploration of Pastoral Care, we are invited to sit with the idea of praying for others, or intercession.
Intercession is a really important part of the life of the church, and its love for one another. Sometimes we can fall into the trap of thinking that pastoral care is only what happens when we are with someone, ‘helping them.’ But, being mindful of others in prayer when we are absent from them is also vitally important.
I suspect that sometimes we don’t pray for others because we struggle to think of the right words – the whole thing becomes too big, and we just give up. Prayer, however, doesn’t have to be perfect to be effective. Sometimes it is simply enough to say someone’s name.
Prayer is part of a relationship of love
Mediacom’s Pastoral Partner Program (1998), provides a useful introduction to praying for others. It reminds us that:
- Prayer is a natural response to our need for God in suffering and pain
- We pray not knowing what we ask for
- Prayer opens our minds to perceive God’s possibilities
- Prayer deepens relationships
- Prayer stimulates acts of care and concern
- Prayer helps the pray-er
- When we pray for others, we pray for wholeness and healing, which may or may not be the same as cure or the removal of hardship
- There are times for individual prayer, and times for communal prayer.
Often, we are good at praying for others in times of crisis. But prayer should be a regular, proactive part of our love for one another, in good times and bad.
Sunday 28 May, 9am: Wesley Uniting Church, Crookwell
Sunday 28 May, 2:30pm: Bigga Uniting Church
After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, 2since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. 5So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.
6”I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 8for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. 10All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.
11And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.
- In this passage, Jesus prays for his disciples before the event of Good Friday. What is Jesus praying for his disciples?
- What does this passage teach you about the importance of intercession?
- How often do you pray for those around you? What do your prayers look like?
‘If we don’t love those that we live amongst, we will turn them into projects. By praying for others we come to love them. This is the heartbeat of mission.”
Mark Berry, “New Monasticism,” Gungahlin Uniting Church (15 Aug 2015)
- Have you ever been guilty of turning someone into a ‘project to be helped’ rather than a ‘person to be loved’?
- Have you ever been guilty of using prayer as a weapon against those you disagree with, rather than a tool of love?
- How can we avoid this and pray out of love for others?
Learning from Others: The Prayers of the People
The video below is a useful introduction to the Prayers of the People that we share in worship together on Sunday. These prayers include thanksgiving and intercession, and so this video provides a helpful reflection on our theme this week. It is a bit long, but even if you only watch a few minutes, there are good lessons to learn.