I had such a delightful day today. I spent several hours interceding for people I barely know as they attended a retreat. There are plenty of times when I get impatient after praying quietly for 10 or 15 minutes, but those hours today flew past. And I was left with such an incredible peace, gentleness and eagerness for the rest of my normal routine that it was evident that God's gift was simply at work here.
This wasn't the first I had prayed for this crowd; I've been praying, first vaguely and then specifically, and then with great intention for them over the last several months. But I've discovered something again, experientially. Prayer engenders love, just as love engenders prayer. One can choose to pray just as one can choose to love, but it takes time for it to really catch on and grow (or, it takes time to get all the personal possessiveness to die away and the real love to come forth). I can see now that when I sensed God summoning me to pray for this group, He was really inviting me to love them. There's growth involved in that equation, and I've seen it happen already. Loving anyone causes our hearts to open, to be challenged, to change. There's an open-ended dynamic and we can't forsee where it will take us. For love to stay alive, we have to keep living with that open-ended dynamic. It's an adventure.
And that's exactly why prayer is an adventure. It is not only love for the person or the group, it is experiencing God's love for the person or the group. It is responding to God's wishes for the person or the group, as it involves me. It is receiving God's gifts that He wants to share with them, or recognizing the gifts He has already given that are meant not for me to horde, but for me to share. Or begging for the gifts which it is evident they need but are being horded by others or need to be developed. It is worship of God: offering of self, whole and complete, which also involves the good of my neighbor.
Yeah, this stuff is so much fun.