This week, more than ever, I have been reminded about the importance of praying (or interceding) for others. As much as we hear it, and as much as it has become ingrained in our "routine", I think sometimes we forget how truly vital it is to lift up one another. How vital it is to have faith for those who don't have faith for themselves.
A few weeks back, my Pastor preached a message from Mark 2:1-4 about a man whose friends carried him to Jesus so that he may be healed. The book of Mark tells a story about how Jesus was preaching in a house and it got so packed that there was no more room. There were four friends carrying a paralyzed man on a mat, but couldn't reach Jesus so they did the most (read: they went over and above what was necessary) and dug a hole through the roof to lower the man to Jesus. Seeing the faith of the four men, Jesus not only forgives the paralyzed man's sins, but he also heals him. What really struck me about this story, is that Jesus saw the faith of the friends which caused him to extend love and grace to the man they were carrying. Which has me challenging myself to have more faith for my loved ones. To have faith to not only carry my friends and family to Jesus, but to dig a hole through a roof so that they can meet Him.
That's not to say that my prayers are more "special" than my loved ones or God hears me over them, but there are definite situations where our faith needs to bridge the gap of the faith of others. As I shared in Strength & Peace, we can't escape the pains of life, and neither can our loved ones and it's important to recognize when our friends and family are going through tough situations so that we can intercede for them.
You see, when we pray and worship to God, that is our time to speak directly with Him and often times when we pray there are multitudes of people behind us who need prayer too. The only reason they're behind is not to show status or rank, but because we stepped out to speak to God a little louder for them. It's almost like among a sea of people, we stepped out to say:
Hey God, wait!
Before I leave, please take notice of my friend. Amidst all these people, please see my friend. They don't have the words God, but I do.
God I'll speak for them.
They want to stand and believe but they can't right now, so I'm here, I'll stand and I'm going to believe for them.
There's a story in Genesis, that's quickly becoming my favorite about Abraham and the city of Sodom and Gomorrah. In Chapter 18, God had just revealed to Abraham about his plans to do away with the cities due to the outcry of the wickedness taking place. God had planned to visit the city to see for Himself but first Abraham begins to show his compassion by bargaining with God to spare the city.
If you continue reading down to the end of the chapter, you see that Abraham continues to bargain with God knocking the original number down from 50 to 10. Abraham's nephew Lot and his family lived in Sodom so he probably was thinking about the size of his family. What I love about this story is that 1) Abraham was bold enough to go to God with such a request, but 2) Abraham knew God's heart and knew Him to be just. Abraham knew that God could not destroy the two cities while righteous people still lived there and he challenged him on that. Basically Abraham knew the characteristics of God and called Him out on it, which we should be doing everyday for our loved ones. I know God to be a miracle worker, to be a healer, to be source of love and compassion, to be full of grace and peace, which are all things that I know my loved ones need. So when I intercede on their behalf, I can "remind" God, of His characteristics and His promises, not only for me but for the people I love.
Now I don't want to sugarcoat the story and make it seem like everything turned out "fine" and the cities didn't get destroyed. Chapter 19 goes on to show that both Sodom and Gomarrah still got destroyed (guessing God couldn't find at least 10), BUT Lot and his daughters were saved and it was due to the direct result of Abraham interceded to God about them.
Which goes to show that sometimes our interceding could literally save the lives of our loved ones. I know without a shadow of a doubt that I ride the prayers of the men and women who have spoke to God about me when I couldn't speak to God for myself. The days where I refuse to seek God, I imagine my mother and my father on their knees seeking God for me. Asking that He cover me, even in my mess. As I shared in An Unashamed Life in Christ, I spent years away from God, yet in that time I was still blessed and I know it was because people were still praying for me.
So my challenge for you dear reader is begin interceding for others. Begin going directly to God about your friends and family members. Start standing in the gap for them. Pick up their mat and carry them to Jesus.
I believe your faith is big enough and strong enough and I challenge you, today, to fully step into that responsibility.