Our ability to approach God is entirely due to what our Lord did on the cross: he identified himself with sin, and then sacrificed himself to atone for that sin. Beware of the idea that interceding for others in prayer means bringing our personal sympathies into the presence of God and demanding he do what we ask. To draw near to God “with a sincere heart” is to approach God with all humility, remembering that it is only “by the blood of Jesus” that we can enter the holy of holies.

Spiritual stubbornness is the greatest barrier to interceding for others in the way we should. If we are spiritually stubborn, we sympathize with something in ourselves or in others which doesn’t need sympathy; rather, it needs to be atoned for by the blood of Christ. Generally, this is something that seems right and virtuous, something we can’t imagine needs to be handed over to God for atonement.

If we get stuck in this mindset, we no longer identify ourselves with God’s interest in others. We fall in love with our own ideas and constantly put them forward, becoming sullen and sulky if we don’t get our way. Soon, prayer for others has become nothing more than the glorification of our natural sympathies. We have to realize that Jesus’s identification with sin, and our identification with him, requires a radical alteration of all our sympathies. Vicarious intercession means that we deliberately substitute our natural sympathy with others for God’s interest in them.

Wisdom from Oswald

If a man cannot prove his religion in the valley, it is not worth anything.  Shade of His Hand, 1200 L