Sunday, February 01, 2015

Intercession Basics

I spend some time each day interceding for various individuals, groups, and areas. Over time, I have boiled down the way I pray for the at-large community of my life into two different themes: souls who are carrying a cross that Jesus has given them, and souls trapped under their own sin or the sins of others.

I don't really spend any time evaluating who fits into which category how, because God knows these things, and I don't. But I do know that while I might wish that suffering could be eliminated from the lives of people I care about, I realize that when Peter mentioned this desire to Jesus, Jesus rebuked him. The truth is, a share in the cross handed the soul by Jesus is a great and precious gift. Every fiber of one's being balks at that truth, but that doesn't change it. What souls who have been handed a cross need are the graces of acceptance, courage, trust, and protection from attacks of the enemy. They need to be able to lift their gaze up to Jesus on the cross, and allow His gaze to penetrate through theirs, to find in Him the meaning of their cross. I pray best going to the core of the spiritual need. God usually uses people and practical help to meet those needs, but I don't discount the possibility that He can reach in mystically to meet the needs Himself.

Those who are being handed a special share in the cross of Jesus are being called and trained to offer their hearts in worship, and really to be built up as a highway for the goods of heaven to come into this earth through their souls and for souls to be brought to God through their love. Shares in Christ's cross are like a huge spiritual infrastructure expansion project going forward. As souls say Yes to God's work in them, God gains access to that soul and to those around him. And the truth is, we all have small crosses daily. It isn't only when someone's child has a life-threatening illness or there is a major disaster that the offer of the cross comes to us. Some souls might think that is the only time God is really asking anything from them. But the cross also comes when someone is being difficult or we fear losing attention, status, or a small comfort. Acceptance, courage, trust, and refuge from the enemy. You think the devil never needles an annoyed person to cause them to reject this kind of cross, and so hinder the upbuilding of the kingdom? Of course he does. Health problem, sure; I'll accept that. Death of a loved one; ok, God is asking me something hard. But accept that this person is put in my life to annoy me? Surely, God. Never!

The other theme I pray is for people trapped under their own sin or under the sins of others. I of course pray that Jesus would come and destroy the nets, the webs, the chains of sin. So many, children especially, are trapped under the sins of adults in their lives. It is true that each person makes his own choices and is ultimately responsible for his own sin, but so many are weakened tremendously in knowing right from wrong because of living with the sins of others. The voice of conscience gets more and more muted and confused.

I especially pray that Jesus would destroy the pretty nets and chains first. These are the lovely sins of Christians; the ones we have forgotten how to be ashamed of. Of course they are not pretty to God. But religiosity can treat as acceptable those things which are actually loathsome.

The image of going with the Blessed Mother with a spiritual syringe is very helpful to me. I like to pray with her that by prayer we are spiritually injecting Truth into walls built of lies, Light into the darkness where sin hides, Love and peace where walls of hatred imprison people. And so with repeated applications we work to break down and weaken the fortresses sin and evil have built that keep people from God. And of course, I proclaim her Son Jesus the Savior, the Redeemer, the One who sets captives free and ransoms the slave. His is the victory!

These are the general ways I intercede, especially for the geographical area where I live, as well as my parish and those in our Catholic school. It is a good practice, that I was taught long ago, to pray systematically for the place where you live, the groups in which you mix. And right now, this is the basic outline I've learned.

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