Weekly Practice: Standing Before God for the Sake of the World

It is the gift of God’s Spirit in us, that he awakens us to the pain of the world—our pain, but also the pain of others. God’s way is with and through, and for those who share in the life God opens to us in Jesus, we’re called to a way of hope which is, yes, secure in the face of death, but which also means standing with Jesus in intercession for our neighbours.

We should not be perturbed then if—in a time of praise or thanksgiving—particular people in need or suffering come to mind. We shouldn’t be surprised if, having turned to God in trust, we find ourselves groaning, somehow called to share in the suffering of others, lamenting with and for others to God. Such burden carrying is, after all, the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2). And we should not be troubled by the edge of gladness and confidence—even trusting patience—that attends such prayer. Hope is glad, is patient. And our Spirit-birth is into a living hope, our future is a sure inheritance (1 Pt. 1:3-4).

Here is a suggestion, then, for a way to pray.

In a time and place free of distraction or interruption, come before God. Turn to God in praise, praying out loud a psalm—Psalms 67, or 100, or 147 may be helpful doors into prayer.
After some time in praise, ask the Lord:

Lord Jesus, help me to pray.
Lay on my heart whoever you want to,
so I can join you in your priestly work.

Call on the Lord for those he calls to mind.

Remember them before God as you know how, whether with tears, or groans, or simple words.

Finish with thanksgiving.

Finally, here is a collect which you may find helpful as a frame for your own lamentation, or for intercession for others.

Come Holy Spirit, come Spirit of Jesus,
and complete in us your redeeming work.
Where we are in pain and grief,
Lord, teach us to pray, comfort and strengthen us in these days.
Call us, Lord, into our inheritance as co-heirs with you:
give us grace to share in your sufferings,
and awaken in us your patient hope.
Jesus, High Priest over all Creation, help us in our weakness:
fill us with your Spirit who groans in us and with us,
so that we might share in your priestly work.