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I feel like I’ve been living in intercessory prayer boot camp. My spirit is weak and some days, just like a new soldier, I just want to call my mom and ask her to pick me up. Sleepless nights, tears that leave me weak all over — some days it’s just too much.
It’s not like praying for others is new to me. I prayed my heart out as my father-in-law battled cancer and a few years later my mom walked the same path. I know God has control and can wipe away sickness in an instant if that’s His will. And I’ve learned to trust Him either way.
But I’ve learned that praying for healing over a disease is different from praying for a person’s spiritual health. It gets a little more complicated when you’re praying for a soul. How far will God’s hand reach into a person’s life before it becomes their decision to make?
And if I’m honest with you, I get impatient with God. I start trying to find ways I can help Him. I force conversations, yet they leave me frustrated. I start questioning everything I’ve ever said or done and try to find ways to fix it. In other words, my intercessory prayer shifts from an outward focus (to God for another) to an inward one (it’s all my fault, or it’s up to me).
When I start seeing that shift, I know something is amiss.
I’m reading an excellent book on parenting by Paul David Tripp called Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family.
Whether I’m interceding for the soul of my child, a family member, or a friend, I must keep reminding myself that I have no power to change anyone. Only God does.
Is that a burden-lifter to you like it is to me?
So then, what is my role?
I’m the first to tell you, I’m still learning. Boot camp, remember? And I have a feeling I’ll be here awhile. But here is what God is teaching me right now:
Seek His Truth for Yourself
I want a quick fix, a formula. But God wants me to know Him. He wants to show me who He is and how He works, whether I’m reading in Mark about Jesus casting out demons or in Isaiah how people turn to God when He opens their eyes or in Psalms how He seeks His own with His faithful love. It’s a humbling thing to admit that I think God is changing ME through my intercession more than anyone.
Pray Scripture Over Your Loved Ones
I asked a good friend for Scriptures pertaining to a situation I was praying over. I have turned those Scriptures into written prayers, one each day. It’s an exercise in faith; I certainly have no guarantee. But there came a time when my own words ran dry. My prayers are first resting in God’s Word, not depending on my ability to pray eloquently or even without ceasing.
Remind Yourself It Doesn’t Depend On You
Another wise friend shared recently that sometimes she feels like her prayers are an umbrella for her loved ones, and if she doesn’t keep her umbrella in tact, the storm will fall in on them. But she realized that’s not true. It’s not up to me and my ability to shoulder this heavy weight for someone else.
Here’s another quote from Paul David Tripp in the same book, “If any human being possessed the power to create lasting change in any other human being…Jesus would not have had to come!”
If your knees are worn out from interceding for a loved one, I hope that you will find comfort in these words. And if you have any words of wisdom to add, I want to hear from you, too. I know so many who read this e-mail have had two lifetimes worth of interceding and I would cherish your hard-earned wisdom.