The Struggle

“For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf…and for all those who have not personally seen my face, that their hearts may be encouraged…for even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.” Colossians 2: 1-5

Paul’s insight into prayer as the means by which The Body of Christ ministers to one another in spite of great distances and great challenges is a powerful weapon in the hands of prayer warriors. The weapon of prayer is not for the faint of heart. Paul calls his intercession a struggle. It was an agony of soul that kept him ever mindful of those he knew intimately, and persistently praying for others who had never seen his face.

When Jesus prayed in The Garden before His crucifixion. He agonized with such passionate intercession and intimate communication with The Father that sweat poured out of his body like great drops of blood.

When Paul prayed for those he loved and missed, he wasn’t ashamed to call his intercession an agony of the soul.

With intense intercession Paul called out to God on behalf of those who were separated from him, but were still within the protective arms of The Spirit of God. As he prayed, his agony turned to rejoicing. They were able to sense his presence in spirit, and he was able to sense the stability of their faith in Christ. This is the beauty and the double blessing of a life intercession.

Since August 7, 2013 my father, Don Miller, has been in and out of ER and ICU units battling congestive heart failure, and a host of other issues that come with the aging process. Today, March 9, 2014 Dad turns 92 years of age.  During these past few months he has spent close to 40 days in the hospital. On more than one occasion the doctors in the ER have left us to say our good byes. Dad has defied the odds, faced the struggle to take his next breath and he has pulled through.

There have been many times we have called upon people, unable to be physically present in the middle of these crises, to pray for Dad. They have done so, and we are grateful.  Words are not adequate to express our debt of gratitude for people who have taken these requests for intercession seriously and agonized with us in prayer.

Time and again, when the struggle was great and Dad was at his weakest point, I would whisper to him, “People all over the world are praying for you.” His eyes would light up, and he would say, “Oh, I know it. I can feel their prayers. They are more real to me than I can tell you.”

Though he could not see their faces, he could sense their presence. With a memory clouded by drugs and the ravages of time,  Dad was not always able to place a face with a name, but he was always able to sense a person’s presence with their prayers.

Prayer brings comfort to those who are making the effort to pray, and it impacts those who are on the receiving end of it. There is a bonding of the spirit between those who pray and those who are being prayed for that cannot be explained. It must be experienced. It is a result of the ministry of The Spirit of Christ in the lives of both the sender and the receiver. The Spirit makes the connection, and grants the intercessor a spirit of presence in the midst of the struggle that has God’s handprints all over it.

The esprit de corps of prayer warriors is not based on wearing the same uniform, marching in a parade under the same banner, or singing the same war songs. It is a spirit of steel bonds forged in fire, and it exists only between people who have been through the same struggle together. Prayer is not designed as symbol of personal devotion, but it is provided as a weapon of war.

Note to self: Pray in The Spirit. Intercession is not all about you.

Today, I will have the privilege of sharing birthday greetings with my Dad from his friends all over the world. They are a collection of priceless comments from those who have been through the struggle with him. Though separated by miles and years, the bond between these praying people and my Mom and Dad is real.

On behalf of the Miller family, thank you for being there in spirit. You were there when Mom and Dad needed you. They sensed your presence, and we did too. God bless you! TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!