Tonight, I sent in a very robust prayer list (although I doubt it is complete) to one of the pastors* at our church. A month or so, ago, I sent an equally robust list (this was during dark September, when everyone was dying and I was remembering past deaths). Last week, I had a singular prayer request. And then there have been several times when I should have sent in a list, but did not, out of some strange sense of embarrassment.
My pastor wrote me last week and said in her mind I was some kind of intercessor for the suffering.
As a result of this, I've started to think of myself as Prayer Request Trish.
It has a nice ring to it, right? Better than "Town Drunk" or "Lady with the Scarlet Letter" or "That Woman."
And look maybe my Pastor was trying to make "Prayer Request Trish" feel a little better about adding pages of prayers for the suffering to the Sunday Bulletin.
However, since I am absolutely self-obsessed, I've been obsessing over this idea that little old me is an intercessor for the suffering! Like do the broken people come to me, because I can pray for them? Or is it circumstantial because I am often in the company of broken people? Or more likely, do people know that I know people who can pray for them properly without getting distracted? Or even more likely, do they know that I am a hot mess of bad luck, brokenness, but still manage to put on pants everyday and therefore find me comfortable to be around?
It's probably all of the above. Also, I don't always put on pants, so the last one is bit inflated.
Now, you might be wondering what an intercessor is, exactly. Well, it's a go-between, the middleman, the prayer broker. Jesus was the ultimate intercessor.
And you know where this led me. . .(briefly to think about starting my own cult). . .but eventually to this:
WE ARE ALL INTERCESSORS FOR THE SUFFERING! WE JUST HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION!
You are an intercessor, I am an intercessor and that lady over there, she is an intercessor! And if you don't think you are an intercessor, you should pay better attention. The world is a mess. And while maybe I am called to pay attention more, by nature of the struggles I've been through, there is literally no reason why YOU cannot pay attention, too.
Suffering seems like it is hard to look at; but that's a lie. I think it takes more energy to look away; more focus to avoid it. The world is littered with suffering. We all need to see it and then intercede on behalf of the suffering. This does not mean we have to fix anyone's problems--there are things in this world beyond fixing. But, we can be there, hands on our fellow humans backs, interceding in prayer.
And you know what happens, when you do this? More people share their walks with you and in turn, you share your walk with them. Suffering is the shared thread of humanity. Suffering is not meant to be a lonely endeavor--when we unite in suffering, friends, we emerge in joy.
So, go out there become Prayer Request <your name here>.