Four different people made an effort yesterday to tell me they were praying for me. As far as I know, I’m the only connection between them. I don’t think they got together and planned this as a kind of gang tackle intercession. One called and left the message on my cell phone. Another sent an email. Another – a couple actually – called and took me to lunch. I (rather arrogantly) assumed they needed counsel. Instead, they simply wanted to tell me they were praying for me and felt I needed to know that. Coincidence? I don’t think so, and yes, I’m grateful.
It is a busy and significant season for me, and I suppose they each could have arrived at their convictions naturally. In addition to some heavy, added responsibilities at my church, North Heights Church in St. Paul, I’m releasing my third book, The Karma of Jesus this week (excuse the plug…). I do feel some extra pressure, and as I woke this morning my jaws felt tight. I’m wearing the stress wearing down my teeth.
But why all in one day? And why did they all decide to tell me, unless this was all somehow orchestrated? What amazes me is the synchronized movement. It has the marks of Design, a Someone pulling invisible strings to work some Providential Purpose. By faith I believe this wasn’t an accident. I’m reading this in fact as a “sign” from God that he’s watching out for me, enough to prompt some friends, apart from any request from me, to ask Him to help me.
Interesting, isn’t it? That God would prompt others to send requests for him to act… Wouldn’t it shortcut the process if he just acted unilaterally? Why take the long route through the cumbersome, imperfect path of prayer? Why does God seem to use – even require intercession? Why bother?
I can’t say absolutely that I understand this. I have a theory, related to the fact that I believe God original intended humans to act as stewards of the planet. Perhaps God gave over real authority to us and has voluntarily limited his own actions in the world to our invitation. The Bible is chocked full of examples of the power of intercession. On more than one occasion God seems to change his mind based on someone – David for instance, Abraham, Daniel, Moses, Paul, Mary, Jesus’ mother – having the audacity to ask for the change. It seems to be how the world works. As Jennifer Schuchmann and I put it in our book, Six Prayers God Always Answers, “Prayer doesn’t work; God works. And God works when we pray.”
Yes, it’s just a theory, and I realize it’s full of theological contradictions. Still, the mystery is there and for the moment deeply personal to me. Why did these people suddenly decide I needed special prayer? Faith answer: God prompted them to pray. And why would God take the trouble to coordinate this lobbying effort and himself initiate a petitioning calling him to get involved now in my life? It’s all a blur in my pea brain. But even as I write and reflect on this, I do feel an upsurge in hope and energy and joy for the day ahead. It will be a day full of challenges. But now, even before the sun rises I know I will walk into it with a power beyond my own. I believe that’s because people are praying for me. And people are praying for me because God has asked them to do so. Remarkable. I’m grateful.
Have you ever been suddenly, even surprisingly prompted to pray for someone and then found that others had the same experience? Have you ever been a recipient of these kinds of prayers? Did you see God at work as a result? Share your stories.
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