Love is patient. Love is kind. Love isn’t jealous. … It isn’t rude. It doesn’t think about itself. [1 Corinthians 13:4a,5a (GW)]
First of all, I encourage you to make petitions, prayers, intercessions, and prayers of thanks for all people. [1 Timothy 2:1 (GW)]
While writing yesterday’s meditation, I remembered back to my high school days when I studied theater at an arts academy in northern Michigan. I should have been happy for my friend when she got the lead in a play, but I wasn’t. Instead, I was annoyed because I thought that role should have been mine. While the play was still being rehearsed, my friend returned to Ohio with a medical emergency. Did I pray for her? Of course not; I was a self-involved teenager and my only prayer was one of thanks because the lead role became mine. The emergency, however, wasn’t that serious and she returned to school (and her part in the play) several days later. Did I say a prayer of thanksgiving for her? Of course not; being a self-involved teenager, I pouted and gave her the cold shoulder.
Several years later, I was in the hospital after giving birth to my third child. This was back in the days before all those prenatal tests and when women spent five days in hospital before going home with their little one. My roommate was much younger and had just given birth to her first child. As I listened to the pediatrician explain that her baby had Down’s syndrome, I heaved a great sigh of relief. I was the older woman with three children—statistically, I was the mother more likely to hear that diagnosis. Were my first prayers for her and her child? Regrettably, no; my first prayers were ones of thanks that it wasn’t me getting that troubling news!
When misfortune or adversity hit someone else, I readily admit that my first prayers often are not for the injured, distressed, or troubled. Quite likely, they are prayers of thanksgiving that it wasn’t me or my loved ones that were affected. I doubt that I am alone. We hear the sirens and say a prayer of thanks we know where our kids are, a co-worker is down-sized and we heave a sigh of relief that it wasn’t us, a friend is diagnosed with breast cancer and we say thanks for our negative mammogram, we pass by a car accident and are thankful we weren’t in it. While thanksgiving is always a worthy prayer, something tells me God would prefer hearing our intercessions for others before hearing our thanks for escaping accident, illness or hardship.
The Apostle Paul reminds us that love doesn’t think about itself; it thinks about others. We must think beyond ourselves, just as Jesus did when He hung on the cross. With great compassion, He comforted the thief, forgave the angry crowd, and looked to the needs of His mother. While ever grateful for our blessings, compassion and concern for others should always come first.
Worship and intercession must go together, the one is impossible without the other. Intercession means that we rouse ourselves up to get the mind of Christ about the one for whom we pray. [Oswald Chambers]