I just came across a good teaching / exhortation about intercessory prayer written by Bp. John Guernsey and posted on the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic’s webpage. I’ve posted it in full below.
Towards the end of the teaching, there is also an announcement about a workshop on intercessory prayer being held in Woodbridge, VA on November 10. I’ve had the wonderful privilege of meeting, getting to know and praying with Rose Marie Edwards-Tasker, and strongly encourage anyone in the D.C. area or reasonably close environs to attend! – Karen
Standing in the Gap
A wise pastor once taught me, “Prayer is not preparation for the battle. Prayer is the battle.” The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 6 that the conflict we face in this world is fundamentally a spiritual one. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (verse 12).
“Put on the full armor of God,” Paul tells us (verse 11). We’re in a spiritual battle. The enemy is the devil and his demonic forces, not flesh and blood, not human beings, no matter how much people annoy us or hinder us or hurt us. The real enemy is in the spiritual realm and so the enemy must be fought wearing spiritual armor and wielding spiritual weapons.
Paul exhorts us to put on the elements of our armor: truth and righteousness and the readiness of the gospel of peace and faith and salvation. He tells us to use the use the Word of God which is a mighty sword in the battle. But then he goes to emphasize the part of our spiritual equipment that, in my experience, is often overlooked: prayer, and in particular prayer for those in spiritual authority over us.
He says, “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (verses 17-18). God provides for us and protects us as we cry out to Him in prayer. Everything about our life and ministry—for ourselves, our families and our churches—rests upon a foundation of prayer.
But then Paul goes on with the very clear direction to his flock to be praying for him personally. “Pray also for me.” And he’s very specific about what he needs them to pray for. He writes, “pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should” (verses 19-20).
Paul is showing us here that those in spiritual authority over us are part of our armor, our spiritual protection and covering. And just as it is the responsibility of spiritual leaders to pray for those entrusted to their care, so it is the responsibility of each of us in the Body of Christ to pray for those who exercise spiritual authority over us.
Your Vestry and your clergy are part of your spiritual armor, and they depend on your prayers, your intercession before God on their behalf. So also are Archbishop Duncan and I, who count on your prayers, as well. I am so deeply thankful for those who pray for me, for my family and my ministry!
The Lord is calling our Diocese to a deeper life of prayer: to the more complete dependence upon Him that grows through prayer, to the more faithful obedience to Him that springs from prayer, to the greater power in the Holy Spirit that is unleashed through prayer.
To help us learn and grow in prayer, we are holding a special one-day workshop on Intercessory Prayer on Saturday, November 10, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at All Saints’ Church, 14851 Gideon Drive, Woodbridge, VA.
The workshop is intended for anyone who would like to learn more about praying for others. It will cover such topics as: the Biblical basis for intercession, learning to pray and intercede as a small group, the importance of the intercessor under authority, holiness of life and intercession, and effective intercession in the local church.
The workshop will led by Rose-Marie Edwards-Tasker, lead intercessor and teacher in the Anglican Church in North America, and the Rev. Valarie Whitcomb, retired priest and teacher at All Saints’, Woodbridge. Plenty of opportunity will be provided for praying with others under the direction of experienced intercessors.
There will be no charge for the event (donations for lunch appreciated). You do need to register, however, so we can make arrangements for your lunch. To register click here or call Heather Adams, 703-590-5470, for more information.
I look forward to seeing many of you there!