The Season after Pentecost: Year C, Proper 20

Intercessory Prayer

  • Jeremiah 8:18-9:1
  • Psalm 70:1-9
  • 1 Timothy 2:1-7
  • Luke 16:1-13

Intercessory prayer for the church and for the world must inform the life of the congregation. The church prays through its acts of healing and justice as well as through its words. Many of our readings on this day refer to the importance of prayer. Jeremiah tells of how God joins with the people and the earth in expressing vulnerability, pain, and grief over the invasion that will destroy life in the land of Jeremiah’s time. The psalmist reminds us that God stands with the poor and needy; Psalm 70 is a prayer for help. And as Paul writes to Timothy, he urges that prayers be offered for all persons and for all in high office. It is God’s will that all should find salvation and come to know the truth.

Prayer is both personal and corporate. Frank Griswold, in Praying Our Days: A Guide and Companion, states:

When we come together to participate in liturgical celebrations, we do so not primarily as individuals but as members of a community, namely the body of Christ into which we enter through the sacrament of baptism. As enriching as it has been to recover a sense of the corporate [whole community together] nature of worship, there is still the need for each of us to deepen our companionship with Christ through our personal practices of prayer.

The Catechism in the Book of Common Prayer (p. 856), describes prayer as “responding to God, by thought and by deeds, with or without words.” It also identifies categories of prayer: adoration, praise, thanksgiving, penitence, oblation (the offering of our life and our labor in union with Christ), intercession (prayer for others), and petition (bringing our own needs before God).

Bishop Griswold also states,

As these categories represent aspects of a relationship, they overlap and run together. Our prayer life reflects the various dimensions of our ongoing and ever unfolding relationship with God.

The rubric (instructions in italics) on page 383 of the Book of Common Prayer set forth the topics for intercessory prayer. The church must pray for “the Nation and all in authority,” “the welfare of the world,” and other people, places, and institutions each time we gather to celebrate the Eucharist. Our readings today remind us that through prayer, we bring before God the needs of others.

In corporate worship, we unite ourselves with others to acknowledge the holiness of God, to hear God’s Word, to offer prayer, and to celebrate the sacraments.

For reflection:

  • Where do you find intercessory prayer in today’s readings?
  • What is your experience with intercessory prayer?
The painting above is from Ruth Palmer. She describe it on her website, “What this piece represents is (and I remember painting it during one of those dry spiritual periods when I was trying desperately to pray but just couldn’t find the words) our prayers, which are sometimes nothing more than moans and groans….but are interpreted for us by the Holy Spirit giving us a direct and uninterrupted line to our Father. This happens often during our times of spiritual emptiness when we are reaching out to God and the words just don’t come. For those of you who are Christians, you will know this scripture from the Bible: Romans 8:26 (New International Version) “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” Anyway, when I pulled the painting out this morning, I decided that just as Jesus said on the cross, “it is finished”…..and would like to share it with you all. Never stop talking to God, He always hears….even the moans and groans! Be Blessed.”

About Sharon Ely Pearson

Editor and Christian Formation Specialist for Church Publishing Incorporated
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