While individual Christian life is a life of prayer, intercessory prayers are an important component of church worship. We pray for a variety of people. When we pray for students, teachers, doctors, scientists and others, we are acknowledging their efforts to make our world a better place to live. When we pray for sick people, we are identifying ourselves with their pain and suffering. When we pray for heads of government or church leaders, we are placing ourselves under their administrative or moral authority. Thus when we join in intercessory prayers in a church, it is not that we are reminding God of His tasks or prioritising them for His convenience. We are in fact attempting to bring in orderliness in our own thinking and living.

There have been millions of people around the world and down the ages, who have derived benefits from prayer. Had it not been so, the practice of prayer would have become extinct long back.

A very simple and vivid explanation of the mechanism of prayer has been given by Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1929), one of India’s earliest and greatest witnesses to Jesus Christ. He likened prayer to vapour. Water vapour or moisture, is lighter than dry air, and so it rises upwards. Whatever the obstacles in its path, vapour continues to move upwards and condenses to form clouds. The clouds then move on their own, give copious rain to the parched earth. The rain makes fields to bloom, satisfies thirst and hunger, produces prosperity. So is it with prayer, said Sundar Singh. Whatever the obstacles, prayer will always rise towards heaven and reach God’s throne of mercy. From there it will return to us to give us solace, peace, happiness and abundant blessings. 

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