13 ‘I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
Sometimes, we can doubt the effectiveness of our prayers on behalf of those who do not believe in God or are indifferent about faith. The most beautiful prayers come from Jesus himself, who interceded with God on behalf of his followers. Here’s Augustine praying for his mother:
Augustine "O God of my heart, my praise, my life, I will for a little while disregard her good deeds, for which I joyfully give you thanks, and pray to you now for my mother’s sins. Hear me through that healing remedy who hung upon the tree, the medicine for our wounds who sits at your right hand and intercedes for us. I know that she dealt mercifully with others and from her heart forgave her debtors their debts; forgive her any debts she contracted during all those years. Forgive her, Lord, forgive, I beg you."
With the passage of years, Augustine came to understand how much he owed to the intercessory prayers of his mother. That is why he wanted to repay her kindness.
It is similar in our own spiritual journeys. At first we say that God controls all, yet we act as if everything was completely determined by ourselves. At some point, however, we discover that all our workaholism neither bears the expected fruit nor provides the feeling of true happiness, so we start leaving more space for God. We begin to mature spiritually and pray more for others so that they may open their hearts to God’s grace and let him transform their lives. This is how intercessory prayer works..
“Lord, help us to pray even more fervently for others, that they and we will open ourselves up to the mercy of God. Amen”