What is prayer for?

I had been planning to write something about praying today, but John McLuckie got there first and said it better than I did – see his post >Sometimes I Just Sit.

I find the hardest part of praying to be intercessory prayer and get bewildered by those for whom it appears to be the only form of prayer. Asking God to rearrange the universe in my favour just seems so….well unlikely to succeed. When I think about it I find myself lost in the paradoxes.

And yet, now and then something happens which somehow connects me with someone else’s prayer and makes me think again. Do I mean that something odd seems to have happened which couldn’t have apart from God’s intervention? No, of course not. That isn’t a God worth believing in. After all, we might expect God to sort out hunger, violence and pain before worrying about my ailments, infirmities or desires.

No, it isn’t that.

More the miracle of knowing that someone is thinking of you. Of knowing that someone is holding you in God’s presence. Of knowing that someone cares. Is that not miracle enough?

I tend to set my mobile phone so that it does not go off during morning prayer. Thus, I’ve set it to go into silent mode each morning just before I go into silent mode and then begin Morning Prayer with others in church. The church makes a little buzz to itself as it stops taking calls and begins to ignore the outside world. It turns on with a similar vibration half an hour later.

However, this has another function, which I’ve realised recently. If I’m not at morning prayer – as was the case today, the phone still does its thing. All of a sudden at the usual time, the phone starts to tremble, tremble, tremble. Effectively it acts as a warning, a notification, a reminder that somewhere, someone is praying for me.

I mean that in both senses – the chances are that someone in St Mary’s is remembering me in what I am doing today and also in the other sense that they are doing the praying that I usually do for me, in that place whilst I am away.

I find both of those senses that someone is praying for me intensely moving and somewhere hidden within that must be a reality about intercession which I somehow will not let go of.


  1. +2 for `intensely moving’…

  2. Rosemary Hannah says

    It strikes me that holding things up to God, turning them round and round in his light, must transform them.

  3. crystal says

    “Do I mean that something odd seems to have happened which couldn’t have apart from God’s intervention? No, of course not. That isn’t a God worth believing in.”

    But that does seem to be the God of the bible?

    • Whilst it is undoubtedly the case that praying for the miraculous is a feature of some of the bible tales, there seems little prayer recorded that is in any way similar to the way most intercessory prayer sessions seem to go.

      I occasionally wonder whether Jesus taught the disciples what we know as the Lord’s Prayer because of his frustration over intercessory prayer meetings.

  4. David McFadyen says

    I’ve another notion of intercessory prayer. In my mind I’m asking God to help me through His plan. I feel that things happen because they must to fulfill His work, and ask for my, or someone else’s “hand to be held”, like a child with it’s mother. The child is left to run and play, but when the child feels insecure it runs to Mummy and takes her hand and suddenly there’s peace.

  5. For me, intercessory prayer means holding people in my mind/heart as I pray, and aligning my concerns with their concerns and their needs (or my perception of their needs). I also believe that the principal beneficiary of intercessory prayer is the person praying.

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