For the past year, my wife has been leading our Sunday morning community group chapter by chapter through Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home by Richard Foster, a book copywritten 30 years ago and still fully applicable today. The book divides prayer into three sections: Inward, Upward, and Outward.
This month, we went through one of the more loved chapters of Intercessory prayer, our ability and expectation of praying, individually or corporately, for the needs of others. The book notes how Jesus’ death on the Cross was His action to be mankind’s intercessor to God and as Christians, we are expected to pray for those who ask for our prayers.
Within the text, Foster cites Exodus 17, the story of the Israelites defeating Amalekites because Joshua fought with a few of the Israelites and Moses petitioned to God. The spiritual implications is not only that Joshua was a skilled fighter, but more so that it was the prayer and petitions to God from Moses and his faithfulness that led to the victory.
I wonder within our modern world if we have lost this a little. How often are we quick to turn to prayer, not only as a petition to God, but also with the expectation that victory is won. I mean, I will pray and say that God’s will is what is to be, but do I petition with the expectation that we will have victory?
Think about this through the Church and mental health:
- Do we pray for victory over the nightmares and flashbacks?
- Do we pray for victory of the cravings and triggers of alcohol and drugs?
- Do we pray for motivation to push through the depressive episode?
- Do we pray for a miraculous healing that would only bring glory to God?
I am of the firm belief that mental health can’t just be “prayed away” flippantly unless God wills it. But what if we prayed like Moses when we are receiving clear commands from God to obey?
To be clear, this was not a 30 second dinner prayer or something we might say for a couple of minutes before bed. Moses petitioned with his arms up high for hours and hours until victory was guarenteed. It became so severe that Aaron and Hur had to step in.
“What Moses and Aaron and Hurt did on that day is the work all of us are called upon to undertake. We are not all asked to be public leaders, but all of us are to engage in Intercessory Prayer.”Prayer, page 192
I pray that you start with asking God to reveal his will and then in that moment, find out how you can intercessed for others. I also pray for pastors that you pray when your congregation members go to counseling, that you ask the client or the counselor for specific prayer requests, and maybe even pray with hands up high for the hour long session as you petition like Moses while the counselor is on the front lines. For our Christian counselors, pray after you have had the session and when it is time for the parent, spouse, friend, or pastor to take working and supporting the individual. Keep fighting until victory is guarenteed. And remember, prayer is where change is found.