A Christian community either lives by the intercessory prayers of its members for one another, or the community will be destroyed. I can no longer condemn or hate other Christians for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble they cause me.
In intercessory prayer the face that may have been strange and intolerable to me is transformed into the face of one for whom Christ died, the face of a pardoned sinner. That is a blessed discovery for the Christian who is beginning to offer intercessory prayer for others. As far as we are concerned, there is no dislike, no personal tension, no disunity or strife that cannot be overcome by intercessory prayer. Intercessory prayer is the purifying bath into which the individual and the community must enter every day.
Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18
Questions to Ponder
What is more common in the church, generic prayers for "those in need" or specific prayers for specific individuals? Why?
How common is it for individual Christians and communities of faith to pray for the good of those they dislike or are in conflict with?
In what ways does intercessory prayer protect a community of faith?
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
"May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls,
and security within your towers."
For the sake of my relatives and friends
I will say, "Peace be within you."
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your good." Psalm 122:6-9
Reflect on your prayer life. Have you ever prayed for the good of anyone you were in a conflict with?
If so, what happened as a result of your prayer? Did it change the way you thought about that person?
If not, reflect in your journal as to whether or not you are ready to pray for the good of people who have hurt you or whom you dislike for any reason.
Pray that your community of faith would be a place where conflict is resolved and hard feelings softened through intercessory prayer.
Prayer for Today
Forgiving God, may I see those with whom I am in conflict as your beloved, and may I share in your love for them by praying for them.
40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Copyright © 2007 Augsburg Books, imprint of Augsburg Fortress.