By Karla Luke
Intercessory prayer, to pray and seek good for others, is a powerful form of prayer and evangelization. It involves pleading with and thanking God on behalf of another person or persons. God loves a heart that is generous for others and we can find many examples of this in Scripture.
Consider St. Paul’s letter to Timothy, “First of all, then, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity. This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
Jesus Christ is our ultimate intercessor, as he stands between us and God, leading and modeling for us the way to the Father. Jesus himself said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Jesus’ life is an example of interceding for us to the Father.
He interceded for the bride and groom at the wedding in Cana, for Mary and Martha when he raised Lazarus, and for countless sick and suffering people through healing miracles. Because Jesus is our holy model, He is showing us that He wants us to plead to our heavenly Father on behalf of others as well. This month, we honor the great intercessors of our faith, the saints. In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis highlights the graces realized from intercessory prayer.
“At the same time, it is the gratitude which flows from a heart attentive to others. When evangelizers rise from prayer, their hearts are more open; freed of self-absorption, they are desirous of doing good and sharing their lives with others.
“The great men and women of God were great intercessors. Intercession is like a “leaven” in the heart of the Trinity. It is a way of penetrating the Father’s heart and discovering new dimensions which can shed light on concrete situations and change them. We can say that God’s heart is touched by our intercession, yet in reality he is always there first. What our intercession achieves is that his power, his love and his faithfulness are shown ever more clearly in the midst of the people.” (282-283 Evangelii Gaudium)
Just as a mother prays for her children, so Mary, the mother of God and our mother too, prays for us! Just as we pray for our brothers and sisters, so the saints and angels pray and intercede for us. As we follow the model of Mary and the saints, let us also pray in thanksgiving to Jesus and to the holy men and women of God who are constantly praying, watching, guiding, pleading and thanking Him on our behalf until we are able to be with them in heaven.
(Karla Luke is the coordinator of operations and support services for the Office of Catholic Education.)
By Karla Luke