INTERCESSION

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The path taken by Jesus was  one of  constant prayer. Most of his prayers were for others. They include  his friends and  foes alike. Those who loved him and those who hated him, those who crucified him and those who  helped him  carry the cross, those who walked with him and those who betrayed him. For Jesus everyone was close to his heart.

In the  hours before  he voluntarily entered his passion, Jesus was  praying for his disciples. In the cross  too he was praying. ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not  know what they are doing’ (Lk 23:34).

Passion, crucifixion, and resurrection; mission accomplished and Jesus ascended into heaven to be seated at the right hand of the Father.  What is  he doing there? Paul the apostle,  who was once ‘caught up to the third heaven’(2 Cor 12:2),  describes Jesus as  interceding  for us in heaven. ‘It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us’ (Rom 8:34). In other words, Jesus still continues  what he was doing here on earth; interceding for us!

We are  called to  follow Jesus. Thus it becomes the primary duty of a Christian to pray  for others.   Abraham, the father of believers, is before us as a perfect model for intercessory prayer. When the  appointed time to punish Sodom for its sins approached, we see Abraham interceding for them. The Israelites won the  battle against  the Amalekites not because of their  military power in the plains, but  because Moses was  interceding for them on the  mountain till dusk.  The priests in the Old Testament era too were standing  between God and His people; an act of perfect intercession. ‘ ….The high priest goes into the second (tent), and he but once a year, and not without taking the blood that he offers for himself and  for the sins committed unintentionally by the people( Heb 9:7).

The sacrifice of Jesus who was the fulfillment of the law, was but an act of a unique and eternal intercession. ‘For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are  called may receive the promised eternal inheritance..’ (Heb 9:15). 

James  reminds us of our duty to pray for others. ‘Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the  church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord’ (Jam 5:14). John also advises us to pray for sinners. ‘If you see your brother or sister committing what is not a mortal sin, you will ask, and God will give life to such a one’ (1 Jn 5:16).

Is there any reward for  intercessory prayers? The Scripture says a good  reward awaits those who intercede for others. ‘Go through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the  foreheads of those who sigh and  groan over all the abominations that are committed in it (Eze 9:4). This mark inscribed by the angel of God  protects us in the days of chastisement. God’s order to the angel of destruction was clear. ’Touch no one who has the mark’ (Eze 9:6).

The book of Revelation also tells us about a mark  to be affixed  on the foreheads of the servants of God. ‘Do not damage the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have marked the  servants of our God with a seal on their foreheads’ (Rev 7:3). Once this marking is  completed, God’s wrath will  visit  the earth, but those with the seal of  God on their  foreheads will escape it. ‘They were told not to damage the grass of the earth or any green growth or any tree, but only  those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads’ (Rev 9:4).

Our days  demand tens of thousands of  holy  souls to sigh and groan about the  abominations that  take place  around us.  Let us  not  waste the precious  time granted  us to  ‘cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches, and to pour out  our heart like water before the presence of the Lord, and to lift up our hands to him for the lives of our children, who faint for hunger   at the head of every street’ (Lam 2:19).

A day is  coming when even the prayer of the  righteous for others will not be answered. Ezekiel has  prophesied that  in those days even Noah, Daniel and Job  would find it  impossible to save  their sons and daughters  (Eze. 14:12-20).

May  more  intercessory prayers  rise before the  hand of God’s mercy  is withdrawn and in its place His hand of  justice  appears. We are being granted time ‘before  Lord our God brings darkness and  before our feet stumble on the mountains at twilight’ (Jer 13:16) to intercede for others. Remembering Jesus Christ the eternal  mediator who sits at the right hand of the Father and interceding for us constantly, let us also resolve to     intercede for others and  submit our petitions before God.

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