Intercession is shared work

“Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them.” (Mk. 2:3)

          All prayer has power and even an individual’s prayers have power (cp. James 5:16-18 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”), but there is a particular power added when numbers are increased (Matthew 18:18-20 “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”). There were clearly more than four men involved in this episode. It tells us that “some men came” and specifies that four of them were carrying the paralysed man. A substantial group was working together and sharing the load for this paralysed man. This made me reflect on the work of intercession. We tend to leave it to individuals who we think of - and talk of - as having a gift as intercessors. I wonder if we sometimes do this as a subconscious way to excuse ourselves our lack of intercessions... we can console ourselves with the thought that “well, it’s not my gift”. But the imagery here is of a group of men sharing a simple task: carrying a friend to Jesus. Surely, at its simplest, that’s a pretty good definition of what intercession is. Intercession is about brining someone or something to Jesus. These men worked together and shared the load involved. I bet none of them refused to take a turn saying, “It’s not my gift. So-and-so there is a much better stretcher-bearer than me.”