I recently mentioned in one of these messages a childhood friend who I haven't seen in over well over forty years (going on fifty years now, actually!). Bruce and I had some great times together doing the usual little boy things, and he clearly left a lifelong impression on me. Moreover, because our birthdays are close on the calendar, I especially remember him each year on October 28th, the anniversary of his entrance into the world. I try to make the day one of prayer for Bruce, that wherever he may be, and whatever his needs, the Lord will work in his heart and life to strengthen a hopefully already existing relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, or to establish a saving bond if he is not a believer.
One of the most wondrous realities of prayer involves the time and distance spanning nature of intercession for others. People like Bruce, whom we haven't seen in decades, whose whereabouts we don't know, and whose lives are a mystery to us, can nevertheless benefit from our communion with God. Indeed, by Biblical definition, prayer involves not so much seeking the fulfillment of what we think needs to occur, but rather, that which God perfectly knows must happen.
"Likewise, the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities. For we know not what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God" (Romans 8:26-27).
The longer I seek to walk with the Lord in prayer, the more pared down my intercessions become as I increasingly realize the centrality of "Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven" (Matthew 6:10). I still pray about details as I perceive them, of course. More and more, however, my requests include, "O Lord God, Thou knowest," coupled with, "O Lord God, I don't!" (Ezekial 37:3). Thankfully, the Apostle Paul assures us that wondrous and inutterable communications wrought by the Holy Spirit in us accompany our attempts at intercession. We may well arrive in Heaven to discover prayers answered during our earthly sojourn we never verbalized because our hearts were the scene of discourse between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit beyond our capacity for awareness. Yes indeed, "we know not!" And yes indeed, "O Lord God, thou knowest!"
I'll be praying for Bruce today, and thereby still feel connected despite the many years and perhaps much distance that separates us. What a gift our Heavenly Father gives to us in the wondrous mystery of prayer. We bless Him thereby - "the prayer of the upright is His delight" - and we bless others by asking our Lord to do for them and in them that which He perfectly knows must happen - "Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him" (Proverbs 15:8; Matthew 6:8).
"We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers."
(I Thessalonians 1:2)