I have come to view intercessory prayer is the most powerful thing I do. Doesn’t the Bible say, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16)? I am learning to view praying for people as a job that I do, like writing a report or visiting a sick person or preaching a sermon. When I finish praying for the day I have a sense that I have achieved something.
This thinking is in keeping with a wonderful discovery I made when studying
1 Corinthians 13 recently. In Christianity love is an end and not just a means to an end. That is, we don’t love only because we want to achieve something through that loving. Loving itself is an achievement. Remember Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats? He comes to us as a hungry person in need of food, a thirsty person in need of drink, a naked person in need of clothing, a sick person and a prisoner in need of a visit (Matt. 25:35-36). From the world’s perspective, you don’t achieve much in terms of visible earthly success by helping people like that. But there is a huge heavenly reward for such work, even though it may not be recognized here on earth.
To the Christian, love is an achievement! We have been successful when we have loved someone. Praying may be one of the most powerful forms of loving, and that is something we can do even when we are very weak physically. When the husband of Anna the prophetess died, she gave herself to the vocation of prayer, which she faithfully fulfilled for several decades (Luke 2:36-27). Her job was to be a prayer warrior. If prayer is so powerful and if after retirement we spend most of our “working time,” praying, then when we retire from being “big shots” in our professions we are actually getting a promotion! Big shots are usually freed from “lesser duties” so that they can do the really significant work. Intercessors who retire from their jobs are actually being freed to concentrate on the most significant and effective work.
So let us learn to look at intercessory prayer as a job that we do. Of course, if we are leaders then intercessory prayer should be part of our job description. Leadership should give us good practice for promotion to the prayer warrior vocation when we retire. I must say with sorrow that sometimes I have been with Christian leaders in my travels and noted how little time they spend in prayer and that they do not use the opportunities when free time is unexpectedly available for being with the Lord. They have gotten out of touch with prayer.
If we wait till retirement to launch into a life of prayer, we will invariably not succeed in the launch, unless we repent of our prayerlessness and God does a miraculous work of transformation in us. If we do not have the taste for long seasons of prayer while we are in active duty, it is unlikely that we will get back the taste after retirement. So we
had better get down to it immediately.
People filled with love become joyous people. So intercession is not only a prescription for preparation for retirement, it is also a prescription for joy! And if the key source of freshness in our lives is not taken away with retirement but rather given greater emphasis than before, then we have nothing to fear about retirement. Let’s become intercessors NOW!
— An unpublished paper by Ajith Fernando, Youth for Christ National Director for Sri Lanka and author of The Supremacy of Christ, Jesus Driven Ministry, & other books.