INTIMATE INTERCESSION: The Sacred Joy of Praying for Others
Tricia McCary Rhodes
W Publishing Group
Pastor's wife and author Tricia McCary Rhodes opens her text on the discipline of intercession with a statement both thoughtfully profound and utterly simplistic. "Intercession is a spiritual discipline fraught with paradox." She goes a step further and describes what many praying Christians give pause to wonder at: "...the cornerstone of intercession is the act of pleading someone else's case before God in prayer." Rhodes understands that the art of intercession has been too often positioned far and above most believers' confidence levels, so they retreat from this significant act of service feeling inadequate for the task. And there's the whole issue of God's sovereignty: where exactly does prayer enter in if God is already controlling events past, present and future?
Understandably, there are those intimidating stories of Christian "saints" and mystics who seem to commune with God on a higher plane than most. Yet Rhodes's call for prayer is persuasive and her argument compelling as she unveils the mysteries of intercession, creating both a desire and joy to bow before God's throne to plead for the well-being of another soul. Writes Rhodes, "If you are a Christian, you are, by your very nature, an intercessor. When God saved you, He filled you with the life of Christ who is always interceding."
Rhodes calls fellow Christians to willingly and enthusiastically "stand in the gap" and pray fervently for others. She includes poignant prayers within each chapter and encourages readers to "practice prayer" by reading them first silently, then aloud, journaling key thoughts and writing one's own prayer before offering it aloud to the Lord. The author eases readers into this spiritual discipline with good, common, everyday examples from her own life --- both the successes and the struggles --- that help to amplify the nitty-gritty of praying from one's heart and soul.
Specifically, readers will learn more about the holy calling as apprentices to the school of prayer --- drawing closer to Christ as believers lift up the needs of others, gaining insight into life as an intercessor, praying from the trenches of pain and heartache, enduring and persisting in prayer until answers come (or when they don't), and developing a mindset focused on eternity and God's heavenly kingdom.
One of the most powerful pictures of the importance of intercession that Rhodes presents in her text is mirrored by Christ's own example where the book of Hebrews states, "Christ ever lives to make intercession for us." Rhodes offers this wondrous truth to fledgling, untried intercessors and seasoned pray-ers alike. Christians are never more like Christ than when they carry another's burdens in prayer, begging God to bring his "kindness to bear on the disrepair in their lives."
Rhodes's entire primer on intercession is lovely, inspiringly presented, and all the more palatable because of its plucky honesty. Intercession is not for the weak-kneed --- but then again, maybe it is.
--- Reviewed by Michele Howe
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