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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

267: INTERCESSORY PRAYER

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Intercession is the act of interceding (intervening or mediating) between two parties. In Christian religious usage, the term intercession is usually associated to a prayer to God on behalf of others. Some religions claim that praying for somebody who is sick can have positive effects on the health of the person being prayed for. Adherents of those religions 'believe' that prayer, like forgiveness, has a positive effect on the health and well-being of the person doing the prayer or forgiveness. It is an entreaty in favor of another, especially a prayer or petition to God in behalf of another. Probably the most well known intercessory prayers is recorded in John 17 when the Lord is in the Garden of Gethsemane.

In some of my recent studies I came across some commentary on the book of Mormon that records intercessory prayers given by some of the Book of Mormon prophets. Here are some quotes:

Lehi’s inquiry to the Lord was based upon the warnings underway at that time in Jerusalem. Lehi heard “many prophets, prophesying” a warning to Jerusalem it was about to be destroyed. These prophets would, no doubt, have included Jeremiah, who was a contemporary of Lehi’s. Lehi heard and believed these warnings, and was praying on behalf of Jerusalem as an intercessor. .

In the stone altar, we see another symbol of ancient religious practice. From Adam to Abraham to Lehi, building stone altars to petition the Lord was a common religious act. Lehi’s prayer for Jerusalem was such a petition. As Lehi offered his intercessory prayer for wayward and condemned Jerusalem, he stood before the very symbol of the Redeemer’s sacrifice. That stone altar testified of the coming sacrifice which would eventually redeem Jerusalem from her sins.

This description would suggest Lehi was outside the city walls, in a private place, petitioning the Lord. The subject of Lehi’s prayer would drive the need for privacy. Asking for the Lord to forgive and save Jerusalem, to pour out his heart on behalf of these condemned people, would not be something for public display. This private setting would also have been suitable for the Divine manifestation which came to him. One has to wonder if this event occurred, as is so often the case, at a spot which would then acquire later significance. Was it in Gethsemane? Or at Golgotha? Or in a stony spot which would later prove suitable for carving a tomb in which to lay the temporarily deceased Messiah? Or the place on Mt. Olivet where the Risen Lord would ascend to heaven? We cannot know the exact spot except by revelation. We should not be surprised to learn Lehi’s stone where a pillar of fire rested would later become the very spot where another sacrifice and another pillar of fire also rested. As the final events unfold, there will yet be another pillar to rest there.

We see this example of giving intercessory prayer by Nephi as well. Although his brothers rejected his testimony and were disbelieving, he continued to pray to God for mercy toward them. Nephi moves from his concern for "the welfare of his own soul" to the welfare of others. His concerns are selfless, sacrificial and intercessory. He has become a man of charity and full of love for others. These whom he calls his "beloved brethren" and his "people" are, in fact, those who will destroy and supplant his own descendants. Charity is the end result of this consecrated life.

My family recently saw the play Les Miserables. It contains a beautiful intercessory prayer that is sung by Valjean. Here are a few of the words:

God on high, Hear my prayer. In my need, You have always been there
Bring him home, Bring him home, Bring him home.
You can take, You can give. Let him be, Let him live
If I die, let me die, Let him live
Bring him home, Bring him home, Bring him home



 And another beautifully sung song of an prayer given to bless another:




Some wise counsel given to us from a friend of mine:

"We must make intercession on behalf of others, even our enemies, if we are to have a hope in Christ. We must lay down the burden of sin to enter into His presence. Much of that "sin" in each of our lives has been the offenses against us, and the resentment and anger we hold from these abuses. There are people who have done you wrong. There are some who did so intentionally. When you forgive them, and plead on their behalf for the Lord to also forgive them in sincerity and love, you are not far from the Kingdom of Heaven. Your Lord did this. You must do as He did to be like Him. It is the only way to understand your Lord. In this, you must suffer as He did, choosing to forgive offenses rather than to seek justice. When you show mercy, you merit mercy. The beginning of repentance is found in forgiving others. "

Intercession for your fellow man, including those who give offense to you, is one of the hallmarks of the saved soul. This is who Abraham was, and why he became a friend of God. . No one wants to comply with the rule. The higher way is, however, found in following the rule. It should be an absolute sacrifice, and a painful one at that, for the exception to be applied in your life. If an inspired condemnation is required at your hand and by your voice, then immediately afterwards you should make intercession with the Lord for those condemned. That is the way of those who know the Lord. Those who have been forgiven much—including those who have been forgiven everything—always love much in return."

7 comments:

  1. I love Bring Him Home

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  2. Thanks for the post and the link to Les Miserables. Such a powerful song, sung by a powerful voice. Much to learn from it.

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  3. One of the most wonderful of the gifts of the Spirit is Charity. When this gift is given to you, and it IS a gift of God, the feeling is one of compassion and deep concern for the welfare and well being of those around you, in a widening circle. First for your own family, then for friends, then for all mankind. This truly is the "pure love of Christ" for Christ is filled with Charity, indeed He is the embodiment of Charity.
    JR

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  4. this is deep; I'm going to have to give it more time, but I can tell that it is spiritually brilliant.

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  5. one of the simplest, most beautiful things on this blog I have read.

    God bless,
    Fusion

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  6. I wonder if there is a difference between these two approaches:

    "Christ suffered to set an example for us. We, too, must contribute our pound of flesh, and it will necessarily be painful. It is required of God that we suffer this way."

    AND

    "Christ came to this fallen world to experience the hazards of mortality, that He might know how to succor and heal us (become at one with us). The sacrifice (which means 'sacred doing') required of us now is belief in Him and His mercy. His burden is easy and light."

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  7. excommunication appeal interview with a 70

    Conversation between Brent Larsen and a 70 on 8 april 2014 concerning the appeal to the excommunication to the First Presidency.

    http://www.ldsfreedomforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=34073

    ReplyDelete