Spiritual Discipline // INTERCESSION
By Andrea Larson
This week, Pastor Isaac asked us to consider our Pentecostal roots that affirm the empowering of men and women equally. Each of us has been challenged to ponder our own upbringing, how it has affected us regarding this topic and how it continues to impact our spiritual growth. Let’s take a good look at our ongoing attitudes towards ourselves and one another and then apply what we’ve learned to the discipline of intercession.
Growing up as a child in the 60s and a teen in the 70s, it might seem that I would have been steeped either in the ways of women’s “liberation” and sexual “ freedom” or in the ways of “church-approved” patriarchy, relegating me primarily to the important job of mothering. Surprisingly, my experience did not fall into either of these categories. I was fortunate to attend an all-girls Catholic high school in Chicago that empowered young women for Christian service in the world. This school was the outgrowth of the sacrificial and prayerful life of Catherine McAuley, an Irish woman who started a new religious congregation of women and built a “House of Mercy where she and other lay women would shelter homeless women, reach out to the sick and dying and educate poor girls.” Her legacy now extends all over the world in the form of schools, medical facilities, shelters, retreat centers, and more. How amazing it is that her life of hard work coupled with intercession in the 1800s brought blessing to my life over a hundred years later!
Here is part of Mother McAuley High School’s current mission statement:
‘…we prepare students to live in a complex, dynamic society by teaching them to think critically, communicate effectively, respond compassionately to the needs of their community and assume roles of Christian leadership. In partnership with parents, we empower young women to acknowledge their giftedness and to make decisions with a well-developed moral conscience.”
In addition to this beneficial educational situation, my parents also fostered equal opportunities for my brother and myself at home. Looking back on all of this, I consider myself very blessed, even though I was quite sad that I couldn’t be an “altar boy”. (Happily, they now also allow “altar girls” who assist the priest during mass.) I have gone on to live a life of service through medicine, motherhood and now pastoring. It has been a life of intercession, if you will, as each of these “callings” has involved LOTS of people to care about and pray for. I couldn’t fulfill ANY of these roles without help from the Lord!
What about you? Were you encouraged as a man to be the “king of the castle” or to be a servant of your family? If you’re a woman, were you encouraged to develop your gifts or to go to school to get an “MRS degree”? If you are single, were/are you questioned often about your marriage prospects but not about the work you would like to do? Have you been wounded by members of the opposite sex? How has this impacted your relationship with the Lord?
Whatever your background, one thing I know for certain – need and desperation are great equalizers between the sexes. Are you a parent? Whether father or mother, there is certainly an unending need for intercessory prayer for our children. Children raised? Trust me, there will be need in your grandchildren. Are you or friends you know financially struggling? The landlord probably doesn’t care a bit whether you’re a man or woman, as long as the check arrives. Do you know people who are ill? (Clearly a rhetorical question!) OF COURSE YOU DO! We ALL have so much opportunity to engage in prayer for one another, men or women, young or old. Never forget that your intercession can have a great impact for generations to come!
“ They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus.”Acts 1: 14
- As you’ve read this and thought about your own upbringing, take time now to offer a prayer. Perhaps this will be a prayer of thanksgiving for receiving good guidance to honor men and women as equals in the Lord’s sight. Perhaps this will be a prayer to find forgiveness for those who have treated you poorly or a prayer to seek forgiveness for being the perpetrator of offenses against others. Wherever you began, determine to continue walking in more equitable and encouraging ways.
- If you have people in your life, whether women or men, who continue to walk in the ways of anger or desire for domination over the other gender, would you intercede for them specifically by name before the Lord?
- Share your personal experiences of gender equality/inequality with your community group or with a friend.