Prayer Request Ministry
by the hand of Eva Walter
Submitted prayers will be forwarded only to the parish prayer chain.
The idea of taking one’s problems “right to Jesus” is surely not to be understood in the sense of forgoing the mediating prayer of others. It is not as though the unique mediation of Jesus our Lord (1 Timothy 2:5) excludes certain saints from mediating on behalf of other saints, and various Gospel stories are the proof of this principle. This is called intercessory prayer, and the Gospels give us some understanding how it “works.”
For instance, we may look at Luke’s version of the story of the Centurion, who pleads for his servant (Luke 7:1–10). First, the centurion himself does not approach Jesus directly. He sends some friends who will speak for him. Now this is interesting, because it introduces another level of mediation. The friends are interceding for the centurion, who is in turn interceding for his servant. We have here the beginnings of a prayer chain, as it were.
Then, when Jesus starts moving towards the centurion’s home, the latter dispatches another group of friends, who will speak the famous words that characterize this story: “I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof” (7:6). It is surely significant that the centurion does not speak these words, deeply personal as they are, to Jesus directly. Others say them to Jesus on the centurion’s behalf.
In Luke’s version of the story, in fact, there is no face-to-face encounter of the centurion with Jesus at all. The centurion’s faith is conveyed by those he chooses to intercede for him.
As an account of a person beseeching the Lord on behalf of someone else, this shared narrative resembles other stories in the Gospels, such as Jairus and the Syro-Phoenician woman praying for their daughters (Mark 5:23; 7:24–30), another man and a centurion pleading for their sons (9:17; John 4:46–53), Martha and Mary of Bethany interceding for their brother (11:3). These are all accounts of petitionary prayer on behalf of loved ones. Such stories surely had a great influence on the patterns of Christian intercessory prayer.
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon