“I pray for them.” (John 17:9)
There is no part of Christ’s Priestly office more soothing to the sick, tried, and suffering believer, than his intercessory supplication on their behalf. To know that we are borne upon the prayerful hearts of our fellow-Christians, in times when providences are trying, and our hearts are breaking, is unspeakably soothing. How much more so is the thought that Jesus, our merciful High Priest, Friend and Brother born for adversity, is praying for us in heaven — our names worn upon his heart, our woes and needs, sins and sorrows entwined with his prayers before the throne; that, his intercession for us is not a past, nor even an anticipatory intercession alone; but, that it is a present intercession, an intercession moment by moment, “now appearing in the presence of God for us.”
O sweet thought that, when some new trial comes, and some dark cloud lowers, and some bitter sorrow crushes; at that very moment Jesus is praying for us, asking his Father on our behalf the strength that will support; the grace that will sanctify; the love, comfort, and precious promise applied by the Spirit, that will calm, soothe, and sustain us. Thus consider him.
Intercessory prayer for others is one of our most spiritual and richest privileges. “Pray one for another.” “Praying for all the saints,” is the divine and apostolic precept constantly enforced, and by arguments the most persuasive and touching. How many of the Lord’s tried ones, through bodily pain, or mental depression, or crushing sorrow, cannot pray for themselves! What a privilege to pray for them, to be “God’s remembrancers” on their behalf, to imitate Jesus, and intercede for them outside the veil, while he intercedes for them within the veil! Thus, intercessory prayer on earth, and intercessory prayer in heaven, will envelop them as with a cloud of incense, and the tried saint will be upheld, and the weak strengthened, and the tempted shielded, and the sorrowing comforted, and the sick soothed, and the dying one supported and cheered, as he passes down the valley, homeward to be forever with the Lord.
For the use of those who visit the sick and the dying, the following prayer for one who appears to be approaching the eternal world is affectionately suggested —
“O Father of mercies, God of all comfort, our only help in time of need, we fly unto You for support on behalf of this sick person lying under Your hand, in great suffering and weakness of body. Look graciously upon him, O Lord; and the more the outward man decays, strengthen him, we beseech You, so much the more continually with Your grace in the inner man. Give him sincere repentance for all the errors of his past life, and true faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, that, washed in his atoning blood, which cleanses from all sin, he may have peace with God before he goes hence and be seen no more. We know, O Lord, that there is nothing impossible with You, and that, You can raise him up as from the grave, and prolong his life; yet, if it be Your will that he should die, so fit and prepare him for the solemn change by the regenerating grace of Your Spirit, and simple reliance upon the Savior of sinners, that his soul may have an abundant entrance into Your everlasting kingdom, through the sole merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, in union with Yourself, O Father, and with You, O Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen.”
Offering up by that dying couch and in that solemn moment, this prayer in faith of the divine assurance, that, “he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them,” we may humbly hope that, at the evening time it shall be light; and that, at the last moment, the brand shall be plucked from the burning, and free grace wear the crown.