Enemies of the Lord and Intercessory Prayer
When we think of intercessory prayer, we normally think of it as praying for someone in dire need, which usually means praying for someone who is facing a difficult decision, seriously ill, or someone who has already died. These are good and common reasons to pray a prayer of intercession, but there’s an even more frequent need that often gets overlooked: to help people against the enemies of the Lord and those who stop us from living a life of faith and prayer.
Think about it like this. Christ had enemies. From the time He was born, Jesus was hunted by kings, zealots, temple politicians, and one of His own apostles. Demons took their best shot too. In the Synoptic Gospels the devil himself stalked Jesus for forty days. “The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him” (Mark 1:12-13; cf Matthew 4:1-10 and Luke 4:1-3).
The Church has enemies. From its Eucharistic conception at the Last Supper and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to the Holy Fathers who have taught the Church and the mystics who have prayed for it, we have witnessed the work of the eternal enemy breeding contempt for that which is holy and inciting the persecution of millions of Christians through the ages. But it doesn’t stop there.
Every single one of us who personally claims Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior of mankind, and believes that the Church is a foretaste of the kingdom that is to come, has enemies too. When we think of enemies of the personal kind, it’s still easy to think about those of the macro type too. We can imagine government suppression of the faith and serious cultural persecution. We can even imagine the millions of modern martyrs. What we don’t think about enough, however, is the idea that there are those around us – even family, friends, and fellow churchgoers – who become our spiritual enemies when they don’t respect or support our need and desire for deeper prayer and a little bit more asceticism. We have an even harder time thinking of ourselves as people who become the enemy of prayer, reflection, study, and a more steadfast commitment to Christ and our Church.
Knowing that the evil one is constantly lurking in the shadows, recruiting the next willing Judas who will seek to betray any one of us individually, the Church as a whole, or the very leadership which God has ordained for us, ask yourself this: am I aware of the forces around me keeping me from a life of prayer? Am I aware of those forces that surround the Church, seeking to dismantle it? Am I aware of how I stop others from growing in the Lord?
Let us pray together as King David did:
“O LORD, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of me, there is no help for him in God. But thou, O Lord, art a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cry aloud to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy hill. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, for the Lord sustains me. I am not afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me round about. Arise, O Lord! Deliver me, O my God! For thou dost smite all my enemies on the cheek, thou dost break the teeth of the wicked. Deliverance belongs to the Lord; thy blessing be upon thy people” (Psalm 3).