I've been convicted in the last year or two about intercessory prayer. For those of you not fluent in Churchese, that's a fancy word for praying for other people -- as opposed to praying for your own needs, praying to confess sin, praying to simply worship, etc.
There are eight or ten people that God has specifically laid on my heart that I've been praying for mightily for the last couple years. All different needs . . . all needs that require the hand of God. And I'm finding that this intercessory prayer thing is not easy. I remember a particular prayer warrior friend many years ago; whenever I asked her to pray for me about something (which happened often at that difficult time of my life), she would just smile radiantly and say, "Just another reason to spend time with my Father!" Her joy in this process was obvious.
This is not me, sorry to say. When I feel burdened to pray for someone, it is truly a burden and I don't enjoy the feeling. Worse, I'm impatient in the process. As I said, I've been seriously praying for the people on my list for a couple years, and I'm already discouraged at the "results." Only one request crossed off the list as answered: a friend found a job recently, but even that was after many months of unemployment. For most of my requests, I've seen little or no action of any kind. A couple situations have even seemed to get worse.
I've found myself asking God lately for just a little, quick answer. Just one little thing. Just a small sign to let me know that he's listening and working so I have the encouragement to persevere.
Remember the golden calf story from Exodus that I pontificated about all week last week? Interesting thing about that. This incident happened right after God brought the Israelites out of Egypt. Right after the ten miraculous plagues, including the angel of death. Right after the parting of the Red Sea. Right after God started showering the people with manna to feed them every morning (in fact, they were still eating manna during this time). Right after God met with Moses to establish a covenant with the people, a covenant they enthusiastically agreed to. Right after Moses and seventy elders literally met with God, experienced his physical presence, at the top of the mountain.
After all these miracles and wonders, all it took was forty days of Moses being away from the camp and the people not knowing when he was coming back . . . a mere month and a half, and they forgot it all. "Come, make us gods who will go before us," they said to Aaron. And Aaron -- who was one of those seventy elders who had just stood in God's physical presence -- obliged them.
How pathetic. Not the Israelites. Humanity, I mean.
This story was a good reminder to me right now. Miracles and wonders do not lead to belief. Scores of people saw Jesus' miracles and still shouted for his crucifixion. As much as I think just one little quick answer would increase my faith, it probably wouldn't. I would soon forget it; I would quickly be back to, "What have you done for me lately?"
God knows better than I do when a little quick answer will truly help me. I can wait. These prayers are not about me anyway.