I pray for you every time I walk past your photo," Charlotte told
me, beaming and pointing to the "five by seven" on the shelf in her
Wow, that's weird, I thought. As a 13-year-old, I didn't
understand why some woman I barely knew would display my photo in
her living room; and I especially didn't understand why she prayed
for me each time she caught a glimpse of it!
Charlotte attended my church, but I never really bothered to get
to know her. I saw her as a homely, eccentric woman who wore her
gray-streaked hair in a tightly coiled bun. Her brow often glistened
with perspiration, and her clothes were less than fashionable. Every
word she uttered displayed her lack of education. She often looked
dreamily heavenward, as if she expected Christ to burst through the
clouds at any moment.
Looking back, I recognize that Charlotte was a gifted
intercessor. Now that I'm older and an intercessor myself, I
understand some of the pain and loneliness she must have experienced
because of my lack of interest and support.
When you are an intercessor, you are sometimes misunderstood or
unappreciated. Those you pray for may not respond the way you'd
wish. In their lack of understanding, they may even avoid you.
Sometimes it may seem you are "doing this" for nothing. But if
you've ever felt this way, know that you are not alone!
Generations of intercessors have endured loneliness, despair, and
discouragement. The very nature of intercession calls you to spend
time alone, doing something many people don't understand. The
loneliness can either devastate or strengthen you. Here are some
ways to work through it and come out stronger in the end.
1.Know that God understands. Thankfully, Jesus, the
greatest intercessor of all time (Heb. 7:25), understands your
experience. Although He gave up everything for us (Phil. 2:7-8), we
often fail to recognize and appreciate Him. People still hide their
faces from Him, and He is a "man of sorrows, . . . familiar with
suffering" (Is. 53:3). But because His love for us is so great, He
continues to intercede on our behalf.
If you're in a situation where the people you feel burdened for
fail to appreciate or even acknowledge you, don't lose heart. They
may not understand, but God does. He is right there with you in the
sleepless nights and early morning hours (Heb. 13:5). He hears every
word you utter or call out. Every tear that runs down your cheeks is
noticed (2 K. 20:5, Ps. 56:8). He delights in you (Ps. 18:19).
2.Keep love your source of motivation. Love is what
motivates Jesus in His intercession, and it must be what motivates
us. Certainly we pray because God prompts us to do so, because there
is power in prayer, and because we want to see God's will
accomplished on earth. But above all, we should be praying out of
our love for God and others.
To help me remember that, I wrote the "intercessor's version" of
1 Cor. 13:1-3 and posted it in my prayer closet: "Even if my prayers
are filled with eloquent words, if I don't have love, they are
nothing more than useless noise. And though I have the gift of
intercession, and receive words from the Lord, and even though I
have mountain-moving faith, if I don't have love, I have nothing.
And though I make all kinds of sacrifices in prayer, without love,
those sacrifices are worthless."
The very nature of intercession calls you to spend time
alone, doing something many people don't understand. The
loneliness can either devastate or strengthen you.
I have also posted a list of what love is according to 1 Cor.
13:4-7, along with questions to ask myself when I am tempted to
wallow in loneliness. For instance, under "love is not proud," I
wrote, "Do I feel that my prayers are somehow better than the
prayers of others and should therefore be recognized and
acknowledged?" And under "love is not self-seeking," I wrote, "Am I
praying so that my own agenda will be promoted?" Going through this
list of questions humbles me, convicts me, and snaps me back to
3.Don't focus on the present pain; look to the end result.
A few years back my husband trained for the Honolulu marathon.
Unfortunately, he didn't train quite hard enough. About 10 miles
into the race, he started to become weary. He was hot, his feet
hurt, and his breathing was labored. He began to wonder why in the
world he wanted to run the race at all. If he had allowed himself to
focus on these things, or the fact that people were dropping out of
the race all around him, he never would have made it. Fortunately,
he was able to focus on two things: his lifelong dream of finishing
a marathon and his wife and kids waiting at the finish line. It
wasn't easy, but that focus gave him the strength to work through
Hebrews 12:1-3 reminds me that by focusing on the finish line, I
receive strength to endure hardships. I'm encouraged to know that if
I do not allow myself to become weary in doing good, I will reap a
bountiful harvest in God's own time (Gal. 6:9).
4. Appreciate the character God is developing in you
loneliness. As I held the communion elements in my hands
one day, the words "This is my body which is broken for you" came to
mind. I thought of how Jesus' body was broken beyond recognition. I
felt the Lord saying to me, "Rebecca, I want you to be broken beyond
recognition so that when people look at you, they won't see you;
they'll only see Me."
In The Release of the Spirit, Watchman Nee writes about
brokeness in the lives of believers. He explains that unless an
box is broken, the fragrant perfume inside cannot be
released. How does this brokeness take place? I believe
begins as we yield to God in
lonely times in prayer. Those times can be extremely difficult for
intercessor, but they may well release a maturity and
sweet fragrance--out of the brokenness (Jas.
5. Know that God understands your value in His kingdom. A
loving father longed to give his child the perfect gift. He spent
many days shopping for just the right thing. Finally, he found a
gift that would help his child reach his maximum potential. He
carefully wrapped it, barely able to contain his joy. When he
presented the gift to the child, the child quickly tore the wrapping
off the package. The son's excitement turned to puzzlement, then
disappointment, and finally contempt as he threw the gift down and
The father gently picked up the gift, brushed it off, and admired
it. Although he was disappointed in his son's response, he realized
that it came from two things. First, the gift wasn't what the child
was expecting. Second, the child failed to understand the value of
This story reveals a spiritual truth: Those who are the
recipients of your gift of intercession may not value it, but the
Father values it deeply. He, after all, chose it with care.
I didn't appreciate Charlotte's "gift" because I didn't like the
way it was wrapped. Consequently, I never saw the value of what was
inside. I never acknowledged the sacrifices Charlotte made in her
prayer closet for me. Perhaps no one on this earth ever thanked her
for her ministry of intercession. This thought saddens me. But I
rejoice in the fact that, in spite of her lack of acclaim, Charlotte
had a powerful ministry. Her prayers affected the lives of many, and
her example of selfless intercession still affects my life today.
I have no doubt that as Charlotte crossed the threshold from this
life to the next, she heard her Father say the words we all long to
hear: "Well done, good and faithful servant. . . . Enter into the
joy of your lord" (Mt. 25:21, NKJV). And it's with joy that I
think of Charlotte, now face to face with the greatest intercessor
of all time.
About the Author
REBECCA LIVERMORE is a prized member of
Pray!'s team of intercessors. Besides her heart for
interceding for people, Rebecca is a gifted freelance writer, having
published articles in such magazines as Discipleship Journal
and Christian Parenting Today.