Holding Up the Life of Another Before God

From Douglas Steere’s book, Prayer and Worship, comes this excerpt on intercessory prayer:

When we hold up the life of another before God, when we expose it to God’s love, when we pray for its release from drowsiness, for the quickening of its inner health, for the power to throw off a destructive habit, for the restoration of its free and vital relationship with its fellows, for its strength to resist temptation, for its courage to continue against sharp opposition—only then do we sense what it means to share in God’s work, in his concern; only then do the walls that separate us from others come down…”Prayer is incipient action,” and these clues are the lines along which the molten freedom of the person in prayer is to be cast. “Mind the Light,” reads an inscription on a sundial. Come under holy obedience.

Here is the unformed side of life’s relationships—the letters to be written, the friends to be visited, the journey to be undertaken, the suffering to be met by food, or nursing care, or fellowship. Here is the social wrong to be resisted, the piece of interpretive work to be undertaken, the command to “rebuild my churches,” the article to be written, the wrong to be forgiven, the grudge to be dropped, the relationship to be set right, the willingness to serve God in the interior court by clear honest thinking, and the refusal to turn out shoddy work.

Yet we need more than the intimations. We need spiritual staying power to carry them out…Holy obedience to the insights, to the concerns that come, that persist, and that are in accord with God’s way of love is not only the active side of prayer, but is the only adequate preparation for future prayer.

Lancelot Andrewes: Prayers that Lift the Mind Up to God

Launcelot Andrews (1555-1626)Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626) is cherished for his prayers that have been preserved for us from his own private devotions. Here is a selection that we might use this week as a call from our own hearts.

I believe in you, O God, Father, Word, Spirit—one God. I believe that by your Fatherly love all things were created; that by your goodness and love all things have been gathered into one in your Word, who for us and for our salvation became flesh, was conceived, born, suffered, was crucified and was buried, descended, rose again, ascended, sat down, and will return and judge…I believe in the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins in this world, and the resurrection of the flesh and life everlasting in the world to come. I believe this most holy faith, once delivered to the saints. O Lord, help me in my unbelief.

Help me to receive faith from his miraculous conception, humility from his lowly birth, patience from his suffering, power to crucify the sin in my life from his Cross, burial of all my evil thoughts in good works from his burial. Grant that I might be able to meditate on hell from his descent, to find newness of life in his resurrection, to set my mind on things above from his ascension, to judge myself in preparation of his returning judgment.

Accompanying image: Lancelot Andrewes, English School, circa 1660, in the public domain.