Intercession Arthur Middleton

‘When our spirit is fervent within us we are wont to pour forth for others also, making intercession either for those who are dear to us, or for the peace of the whole world’ (John Cassian).

The closeness of God

A growing awareness of God brings one into the heart of prayer. As one’s vision of God deepens and widens so too does one’s prayer, as it seeks to be identified with the interests and concerns of God. As prayer becomes less concerned with self and more concerned with God it becomes more interested in the real needs of other people. There grows a new awareness of people as their needs occupy more and more of our prayer, as our own awakened sense of God’s compassionate love for them enables us to enfold them in our prayer. Our own harmony with such love makes our own loving effective and prayer for others a necessary part of our lives, as God who is present to both of us brings his love to bear on those for whom we pray.

God does not jump in’ to miraculously satisfy our requests. He works rather more subtly. Certain regularities of law are built into the very structure of human life necessary for our growth in freedom, understanding and love. Within this structure, where we also experience inhibiting factors attempting to frustrate God’s intention for human life, there is a potential for fulfilment. His influence begins to work when the ‘natural’ endowments of the spirit are opened to the transforming love of God. Bishop John Baker explains:

‘If natural telepathy for example, can communicate ideas and feelings across half a world, as well as attested cases suggest, then there is something, as yet imperfectly understood by us, some capacity of Man, to be open to non-physical reality. Prayer is not telepathy; but at the natural level it may use this openness. For if our weak human affections can link up through seemingly impassable obstacles and separations, why should not the power of God’s love, which at all times is immediately present to each of us, penetrate the self, bring strength, joy, healing, and fortitude, prompting to this or that action? When we and those for whom we pray are bound in the deepest possible personal union by the common reality of God, when our love for them and theirs for us are consciously in tune and harmony with his will for us all, is it in any way incredible that the work of love should be done?’ (The Foolishness of God, p. 384).

The Bishop goes on to admit that though this may be a groping in words after something half-glimpsed, half-guessed at, it does chime in with what we know of the natural order. The harmony of such a way of thinking with our understanding of God enables us to think along such general lines when trying to comprehend the efficacy of such prayer. ‘It is to the openness of the human self to the power of the divine love mediated through the activity of prayer that we may most reasonably attribute those cases of healing, guidance and inspiration, for many of which the evidence is so strong.’


From ‘Prayer in the Workaday World’

by Arthur Middleton