God help them.
Help those people who are lost. Those who are wayward in their lives of sin. Help this broken and corrupt city. This land who has turned its back on you. God forgive the heathens and sinners who waste their lives pursuing the wrong things. God help those drug dealers turn from their wicked ways. Save the children whose parents are neglectful and ignorant. God help them.
It’s the prayer of a pharisee. One who stands at a distance and watches the crumbling world around them. Somehow imagining that they are somehow different, somehow better. It’s the prayer that causes the world to wonder why Christians act like they’re so much better. God help them.
Rather, God help us.
God help us who are lost. We who have gone wayward with lives of sin. Help our broken and corrupt city. Help and forgive us, people who have turned our backs to you. God forgive us, we heathens and sinners who waste our lives chasing wrong things. God help us who have let drugs and other idols control our lives. Save us who have neglected the family, abandoned the orphans and widows. God help us.
Intercessory prayer is not throwing a lifeline to someone in need. It is not words of sympathy for a friend. It is not lip service, instructional teaching, or an opportunity to rebuke. Prayer is the act of a soldier communicating with the general in charge. It is putting yourself in the trenches alongside the wounded and calling for a medic. It is the healthy giving limbs and organs for the life of another. It is coming alongside someone in need, crying out with the same urgency and heart as the person you’re with. Intercession is speaking on behalf of someone when they can speak no more. It is praying with heart when the person has lost the faith to pray any longer. Intercession is the very work of Jesus.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
We see that God did not remain distant; rather, he humbled himself and became one of us. He put himself in our position. In weakness. In humanity. And his life became the greatest prayer ever uttered. God became man to save us all. To take on the weight of the world’s sin. To become broken so we could become whole. To bridge the gap between us and God. To restore a relationship between us and our creator. So God could become our God.
And we are his ambassadors. We represent Christ. That means we humble ourselves, to be in the position of others. It means putting ourselves alongside those who are hurting. And when we pray, we pray as they would. We pray the words that are missing. We cry out with the pain that cannot be expressed. We yearn for healing and restoration the same as they would. We don’t yearn that they might get a job, but we yearn for a job with them. “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26)
Pray as Christ did. With your life alongside others. With true compassion – with a life alongside those in need.