I posted a reply at the Disciples.co.nz forums recently regarding intercessory prayer, and how Christians were supposed to approach it. The understanding of how intercession works is of particular interest to me as a Catholic, since many non-Catholics see Saintly intercession (ie. asking those in heaven, such as the Blessed Virgin Mary, to pray for us) as a no-no (for various reasons we’ll discuss another time…). So, this following post covers the basics of why it is that human beings intercede for one another here on Earth, and lays the foundations for explaining Saintly intercession as well:
Intercession is defined in my dictionary (Oxford American Dictionary) as follows:
• the action of intervening on behalf of another : through the intercession of friends, I was able to obtain her a sinecure.
• the action of saying a prayer on behalf of another person : prayers of intercession.
Intercession is a sign of love for our neighbour; and judging from the above definition, we can intercede through action or through prayer, it seems. Let’s look at the Scriptures:
Matthew 28:19 says, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age." That’s an example of a more physical intercession, whereby people are brought to God through your actions.
James 5:16 says, "Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects." (italics mine). This is an example of, well, intercessory prayers.
So, we’re all called to be intercessors – this is not surprising considering that intercession is a priestly ministry, and all Christians belong to the Royal Priesthood through Christ.