This article is in response to Gregory Doublas’ recent article, Sometimes we complicate the way to pray (Sept. 29). Mr. Doublas is right on target when he says that Jesus Christ is the one mediator between God and man. We agree that all grace is a freely given gift from God.
As Catholics, where we differ from our brother in Christ, Mr. Doublas, is on the means by which God can bestow grace.
God does desire for us to have a personal relationship with him and to go directly to him in prayer. In doing so, with an open heart, we can receive his loving grace.
But God also gives us the gift of intercessory prayer, where we can participate in bestowing his grace onto others. It’s not complicated at all and really quite beautiful. In fact, in Ephesians 3, St. Paul even refers to himself as a steward of God’s grace for the benefit of others.
The power of intercessory prayer is exactly what Mr. Doublas identified from Acts 3, where Peter healed a man crippled at birth. Peter was an intercessor of God’s grace! Likewise, in Luke 5, it was the faith of the paralytic’s friends that Jesus recognized and used as a vessel to give healing grace to the paralytic. They were intercessors, too.
Finally, in James 5, James tells us if someone is sick, he should pray and should summon the presbyters of the church to pray over him. These presbyters are intercessors and instruments of God’s grace.
And intercessory prayer is not limited to those living on Earth. You see, our relationship with those who have died before us is not cut off upon death. Those in heaven, who we call saints, can become powerful intercessors for us.
In Revelation 5, the elders in heaven use incense, which are the prayers of the people. We can ask the saints, who are now closer to God and his loving grace than we are, to intercede with God on our behalf.
God desires both personal and communal prayer. We do not walk the journey of faith alone. When Jesus taught the disciples to pray in Matthew 6, he said, Our father, not My father. Furthermore, in Matthew 18, Christ promises that where two or more gather in his name, he is present.
Again, what a beautiful way for a congregation to give praise and worship to God by praying the Lord’s Prayer together – and in that moment we, as the body of Christ, experience a glimpse of heaven, where we will one day be all together giving praise and honor to God from whom all good things come – including grace.