Grateful for friends who pray for and with her, Rebecca Martin ponders the power of intercessory prayer.
In the late summer of 2020, craving community and spiritual support, I reached out to a number of friends from college—many of whom I hadn't seen for years. I invited them to an online prayer group over Zoom, once a week for an hour. We live all the way across the country from each other, no two in the same state, yet technology and a mutual desire to share the love of Christ has brought us together week after week for nearly three years.
We start with 15 minutes of chatting; move to 15 minutes of lectio divina and 15 minutes of spiritual conversation on the Scripture, and end by sharing prayer intentions and praying the Divine Mercy chaplet together. It's a simple, straightforward setup, a space of vulnerability, spiritual growth, and sisterly support, allowing us to pray each other through seasons of challenge and joy alike.
I struggle, often, with intercessory prayer (and maybe you do too?) Often, the needs I hear are so big, so drastic, that I squirm away from the thought that my prayer can make a difference. Under the guise of resignation to God’s will, I shirk the invitation to plead with Him for those I love. And truth be told, from one week to the next in my prayer group, it’s hard to see the blessings and changes. Burdens aren’t lifted quickly, and one stressor is often replaced by another. One of us is always having some crisis or other, and we take turns needing to vent and be comforted. But when I pause to tally up the big blessings and realize that the list of little blessings is too long to count, then the hand of God appears.
One friend met her spouse, married him, and is now expecting her first child.
Another finally conceived after several years of secondary infertility.
Another woman's family had suffered repeated job losses, and struggled with the developmental challenges of their oldest child. Her husband now has a stable job, their son is getting the care that he needs, and they're expecting baby number three.
A fourth found her vocational home as a Lay Dominican, and our friendship was healed in a way we hadn't expected.
In my own life, the answered prayers have included a new job for my husband, a house for us, and so much support during the seasons when I needed it most. Even if my biggest prayer—that my husband and I can grow our family—hasn't yet been granted, how can I fail to trust, seeing the myriad blessings that have come about through our prayer for and with each other?
So often, we don’t see the effects of our prayer. Interceding for someone we love feels like a blindfolded game of “pin the tail on the donkey.” Will my prayer work? Will it be good enough? Is the intention deserving? Is it too big, too little, the wrong time, just the right time? We forget that prayer isn’t in our hands, it’s in the Lord’s. All we can do is love—love each other, love God, and remember that God loves our loved ones more than we can, more than we can even comprehend.
And when we have loved and prayed, we listen and remember. We form our hearts to listen to our sisters in Christ and lift them up in prayer. We call to mind the blessings the Lord has given, blessings that at the time we might not have connected to those who prayed for us. We give thanks to God for granting us those who will stand with us in prayer, no matter how big or small the intention.
Copyright 2023 Rebecca W. Martin
About the Author
Rebecca W. Martin, a trade book Acquisitions Editor for Our Sunday Visitor and Assistant Editor at Chrism Press, lives in Michigan with her husband and too many cats. A perpetually professed Lay Dominican, Rebecca serves as editor for Veritas, a quarterly Lay Dominican publication. Her children’s book Meet Sister Mary Margaret will release in fall 2023 from OSV Kids.