Last week we got a thank you note from a friend who is living with a very serious melanoma. We had seen “Joe” at a social event and were grateful for his report of being in remission. As we have in the past we assured him of our prayers. Joe was deeply touched when we told him that his name was “in the box.”
We explained briefly that we have a “grocery list” of names on index cards. Lists go back four or five years by now. We toss the cards into a handsome 4×6 marble box we picked up at a garage sale for a few bucks. It sits on our kitchen table where we see it many times through the day.
Each evening before dinner we ask, “Who should we pray for today?” Generally, people we have seen that day or immediate needs take priority. But we often say, “And for everyone in the box” or silently touch the marble lid near at hand as we say “Amen.”
Joe’s thank you note really touched us. I guess it shouldn’t have, really. When you get down to it, what is it we all want? To be validated, recognized, valued, appreciated – to know when we take off our dress-clothes after a social event that we truly are in relationship and part of a caring community.
There is a whole lot more intercessory prayer going on than meets the eye! But one image has remained with me all week. It comes from First Communion Sunday at Christ the King. Such occasions bring out the multi-generational family like nothing else. A woman I would guess to be the great-grandmother of a well-represented clan knelt after communion with eyes closed and her hands gently clasped near her quiet lips. What must have been in this lovely matriarch’s heart?
Moses interceded before God innumerable times. The one that comes to mind in regard to the woman at Christ the King is recorded in Deuteronomy 9:25 – Moses lies prostrate in prayer before God for forty-days and nights. Similar “standing in the breach” is attributed to Jeremiah (18:20), Ezekiel (13:5 and 22:30) and many others in Scripture. Jesus teaches us to ask for what we need.
But who needs more testimony than the serene focus of a grandmother on First Communion Sunday? So, in her honor and on behalf of all those for whom we have offered to pray, please join me in what I imagine was on her heart:
For this reason I kneel before the Father,from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19)