Why Pray for Others?

I have come back today to a question I have often wondered about and that hasn’t really been settled in me yet: why intercessions? Why pray for the concerns of others who God loves and knows much better than I ever will? Whose needs are as familiar and important to God as they ever will be? What is the purpose of it? People have been praying intercession for centuries, it’s a staple of church liturgies. 

I do not believe that I have to “make God care”, that God would not be fully present in everyone’s life unless I pray for Her to be there. 

When I pray for things in my own life, I know why. I want to be in the presence of God, close to Her, attentive. I want God to show me what I need to see, or understand. I want to be reassured, comforted, strengthened, guided. I want to listen. I need this place to know again that I am loved as I am, that God is love and nothing else but love, and that I am enough and God can do what She intends through me, no matter how fallible I am. I’m good in Her eyes, wanted and welcome and whole.

But what about praying for others? I cannot place others into God’s hands, only my worries about them. They need to invite God themselves. They need to open the door themselves. I cannot make them feel loved by God – they need to allow themselves to experience God’s love that is constantly offered to them. And I don’t believe I have to ask God to keep knocking at their doors either. She is there, She is with them all, closely and faithfully waiting to be allowed to come even closer, to call them into the truth of their beloved-ness.

Are we praying intercessions just to make ourselves feel better, then? To leave our worries somewhere? Then let’s not pretend we are praying for others. Are we praying for ourselves, for ‘pain relief’, for calmness and comfort and strength of our minds and hearts? We definitely didn’t give God anything new to handle that She didn’t already know about.

And when praying for others – what would I even know of what others need? I have a hard time being sure of what I need – and God takes care of that too. Any awareness I might have of my needs only grows because She gives it.

So, I don’t understand intercessions. And yet – yes, I do pray for others. I send peace into relationships and into places through my prayers. Whether that makes sense or not. It might well only make me feel more peaceful.

And maybe that’s all it is.

Maybe intercessions only open me a bit more to peace and comfort and strength and joy, maybe praying for others only makes me a bit more able to share what I receive with them – and thereby I answer what I prayed for in the first place because God changed me.

So, this means I have to pray for myself! And we return to the question: Why pray for others? Why intercessions?

Why not pray only, “God, let me serve you more fully, let me be a blessing to those around me more completely, let me love you more and open myself more to your love for me so I can love others better“? Is that not what is needed in the end? If we all prayed that with all the seriousness with which we pray for others, might it not achieve more? I need to be open to God, I need to be open to what God needs me to do with what I am and what I have. I am given what others need.  

I find it difficult to hear that some religious Communities consider intercessions their work. I don’t think it is so very meaningful to pray without also acting on what I pray for.

I do however absolutely get the point of placing yourself before God in continual adoration. That’s different. I find prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament an incredibly powerful experience – a time of being wholly present to God. Surrender to the presence of God. In stillness, in silence. Giving myself up to God to know God. Yes. That I get. Very much so.

But when I bring concerns for others to you, God, then open my eyes to what I can do for them – with all that you have given me. Let me be an instrument of your love, let me serve you in how I meet those in need. God, teach me how to pray.

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