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Tuesday, July 01, 2014
The Journey to Intercession - Eleanor Shepherd
There is a significant part of my life that it took me a long time to be comfortable writing about. One of my greatest joys comes from my life as an intercessor. I have been reluctant to write about it because in a sense it is so very personal, an intimate thing that I would rather keep to myself. Yet, it is also the most other oriented thing that I do. I am able to forget about myself when I am praying for others and to concentrate on them, on their needs, and on what God can and is doing in their lives
Prayer has always been a part of my life. Like most people in my generation, my first memories of prayer are being taught to kneel by my bed as a little child and repeat a rote prayer. “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep.” This was followed by requests for God to bless all my family and friends. Early on, I began to name them off. I guess that I wanted to be sure the Lord knew the exact people I was asking Him to look after. It was also useful to me to help me remember family members who lived far away and who were not part of my daily life.
Later on, the family would all gather at the dinner table and after the meal, we would each take a turn and pray, my brothers and I taking our turns. We went through a rotation, beginning with my father and finishing with my younger brother. There I learned from the example of my parents to not only think about asking God for the things I wanted, but to have an awareness and concern for the needs of others.
I think that I must have been in my late teens or early twenties, when I decided to keep track of my prayers. I read somewhere that this was helpful, because you could then note when these prayers were answered. So, I started my lists. Usually I just entered the date and made a list of people that I was praying for. At times, I would also add specific requests for them beside their names in a word or two. These I kept in tiny spiral notepads.
As a young mother at home with my children, I remember always trying to take time for prayer in the morning, before I got into the activities of the day. As the children grew, it became more difficult to keep the discipline, but I usually managed to find some time in my day to spend in prayer. Having a list was helpful, as it gave me something tangible to go back to. I never was able to devote a great deal of time to prayer. In those years, it really was often prayer on the run. There were quiet times for prayer that I could somehow fit into my day, like when I was driving my children somewhere or waiting for appointments of various kinds.
My specific calling to intercession came when I was in my early forties. We were living in Rueil Malmaison, a suburb of Paris, France. I had begun attending Bible Study Fellowship, an English speaking Bible study group that met in a Baptist church nearby. A friend from the Bible study was driving me home and in we were chattering about our lives in Paris. I mentioned that for some strange reason I had begun to wake early in the morning, and was not able to get back to sleep.
To my surprise, she said to me, “ Do you think the Lord might be calling you to prayer?”
I had to be honest and say that I had not thought that might be a possibility. However, I certainly was willing to consider that. So the next morning when I awoke, I quietly slipped out of bed, crept downstairs so I would not arouse anyone else and settled in a chair in the living room to spend some time in prayer. It was like I had come home. That day began a routine that has continues to this day. Each morning, the Lord awakens me to come and meet with Him. I have use an alarm clock. He knows how much time I will need and awakens me accordingly.
I have to admit there are times when I have arisen reluctantly, only doing so out of obedience. There have been times when I have felt physical exhaustion. Yet, I would not ever want to give up this precious time.
This journey has brought me more joy that I imagined possible.