Monday, February 27, 2012

intercessory prayer: growing through the answered and unanswered

For a while, I didn't understand what it was.  Things just happened.  Prayers just happened.  I would talk to someone and would suddenly feel a specific prayer rise from my soul.  I knew what I had to pray for, and I did.

And then I saw answers.  Answer after answer after answer.  Specific prayers answered before my eyes.  Houses.  Cars.  Finances.  Babies.  There were too many things adding up -- too many "coincidental" times that something would happen, and I would think, "Huh.  I prayed for that."  

And I forget when it suddenly dawned on me -- when the moment was when I turned to Elliott -- and I said tentatively, "Hey... Elliott?  I think I have the gift of intercessory prayer."  

I expected a, "Maybe," at best, and perhaps more likely a, "We don't want to rush to conclusions," but instead I was met with a, "You know, I really think you do have that gift."

The thing is, it's actually a little ironic that I have this specific gift, because a huge reason of why I have difficulty trusting God comes from a case of major unanswered prayer when I was in fifth grade.  That's a post in and of itself, so I'll save it for later.  But as I've grown closer and closer to the Lord, He has put things on my heart that I immediately know I am supposed to pray for.  And I do.  And then they happen.

It's wild.

I'm learning a lot about this whole intercessory-prayer-thing too.  It's not like God's a genie and I go around asking people what they want and then get it for them.  It's more about discernment.  Someone asks me to pray for something, and I bring that person before the Lord.  I ask the Holy Spirit to help me see how best to pray for them.  And then I tell them how I am specifically praying for them.  I think this is so important, because I want God to get the glory when He answers the prayer.

And other times, I don't even have to dwell on it.  I see someone and immediately feel a prayer rising from within me.  It's inexplicable.  It's surreal.  It's the Holy Spirit.

As soon as I realized I had this gift, I knew I had to be... deliberate with it.  I think that's the word.  Deliberate in prayer, and deliberate in seeking growth.  I felt a responsibility had been given to me, and I wanted to develop it -- and giving God the glory in the process.  So I prayed for help with growth.

And the answer to that prayer was surprising.  But God-like.  Because He answered my prayer for growth by not answering my intercessory prayers for myself.

Remember how I talked about growing through unanswered prayers? be continued...

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