First Week of Advent – Intercession
This week we will begin with the prayer of intercession. Intercession is simply praying on behalf of others. For whom should we intercede in this season? Take a few minutes to prayerfully read the Benedictus (Luke 1:68-79). Allow God to lead you to those for whom He would have you pray.
Benedictus The Song of Zechariah
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; *
he has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty savior, *
born of the house of his servant David.
Through his holy prophets he promised of old,
that he would save us from our enemies, *
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers *
and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham, *
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
Free to worship him without fear, *
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life.
You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, *
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,
To give his people knowledge of salvation *
by the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God *
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
To shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death, *
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.
This is the song that Zechariah prays over the infant John the Baptist. He foretells the work of Christ who will “shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.” In the Now and Not Yet of the Kingdom, we each walk partially in Light and partially in darkness. Who do you know who currently dwells in darkness? In this Advent season, who needs the light of Christ in their lives? Who are the five people for whom you are called to intercede during this season of Advent? (It is okay to select yourself). There is nothing really special about selecting five people. Feel free to pray for more or fewer people in this season. Five simply allows you to select one person for each week day for whom to pray, or select a day each week to intercede for all five.
How do we intercede? Intercession may be as simple as praying, “Lord Jesus Christ, in your compassion shine the light of your love on ____________________________ who is dwelling in darkness and the shadow of death. Guide my feet into the way of peace. Amen.” Spend some time listening for how God might be calling and guiding you to bring light and peace into this persons life.
If you are desiring a more contemplative prayer practice, prayerfully ask to join Jesus and the Holy Spirit in interceding for the people you have selected. Scripture tells us that both Jesus and the Holy Spirit are engaged in intercession for us (Romans 8:26-27,34 and Hebrews 7:22-25). While this is of great personal comfort to know that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are interceding for me, it is also a beautiful time of prayer to quietly join them in interceding for someone else. While there is no one right way to pray in this way, I will share my practice as a starting point. I find a quiet space and remind myself that, “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27). I then prayerfully ask to join in this eternal prayer of intercession and wait to be invited. I sit for a while in these “groanings too deep for words” and then ask to join in the specific intercession for a person. I try to resist the urge to bring my own solutions into this prayer but instead listen and follow the Spirit who intercedes “according to the will of God.”