The Church teaches that the intercession of the saints in heaven is "their most exalted service to God's plan" (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], 2683) — no matter how great was their work on earth. St. Dominic taught on his death bed: "Do not weep, for I shall be more useful to you after my death and I shall help you then more effectively than during my life" (CCC, 956).
One of many kinds of prayer is the prayer of petition. Intercession is a form of petition (CCC, 2634). It is petitioning God in the place of another person (see Ez 22:30, 13:5; Ps 106:23; CCC, 2741). Intercession implies that a person is unable or unwilling to petition God on his own behalf (Rm 8:26) and that the Lord sometimes permits us to substitute for others in prayer. Because God has given us authority (Gn 1:28) that He will not usurp, and because He will not usually impose His blessings on us, intercession makes a great difference. We don't receive because we don't ask (Jas 4:3). Intercession often is the difference between life and death, war and peace, healing or sickness, success or failure.
Protestants, Catholics, evangelicals, and charismatics all agree that intercession is God's urgent call to His people at this moment in history. Some maintain that Jesus' mother Mary has been repeatedly sent during this century to encourage us to intercede. We may be on the threshold of a golden age of intercession. Let us intercede to the maximum.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF INTERCESSION
- "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength" (Dt 6:5, our translation).
- Thou shalt have God choose each member of an intercessory prayer group.
- Thou shalt not intercede without first hearing God.
- Thou shalt be as specific as possible.
- Thou shalt have expectant faith.
- Thou shalt love thy enemies.
- Thou shalt expect spiritual warfare.
- Thou shalt commit thyself to intercede for a set period of time.
- Thou shalt change thy life-style.
- Thou shalt not be too rigid about some of these guidelines.