Blog-a-Book: Dostoyevsky on intercession
|by Gina Dalfonzo|
Do you ever feel overwhelmed when you try to pray for other people? I'm afraid I do. It's not that I don't want to pray for others -- I love doing it and consider it a privilege to offer what little help I can in this way. It's just that sometimes the realization of just how many people are in need, and how great those needs are, that comes when we start to pray for them can weigh on the heart.
And let's not even go into the guilt of promising to pray for someone and then realizing you forgot to do it.
These words of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's, quoted in The Book of Uncommon Prayer, may take a little poetic license with theology, but they offer very real encouragement and refreshment for intercessors -- not by minimizing the numbers or the need, but by showing us that our contributions, small and faulty as they seem to us, may mean more than we ever knew. I love this passage and plan to keep going back to it whenever I start feeling bogged down and frustrated in my prayer life again; I hope many of you will be blessed by it as well.
. . . Remember also, every day and whenever you can, repeat to yourself, "Lord, have mercy on all who come before Thee today." For every hour and every moment thousands of people leave their life on this earth, and their souls appear before God. And so many of them depart alone, unknown, in sadness and sorrow that no one will mourn them, or even know whether they had lived or not. And so, perhaps from the other end of the earth, your prayer for their repose will rise up to God, though you did not know them, nor they you. How touching it must be to a soul, coming in fear before the Lord, to feel at that moment that someone is praying for him, too, that there is still a fellow creature on earth who loves him. And God will look upon you both with more mercy, for if you have so pitied him, how much more will He who is infinitely more merciful and loving than you. And He will forgive him for your sake.