Ask a Carmelite Sister…
When someone asks me to pray for them – to be honest with you – I am not sure how to follow through on my answer which is always “yes, of course, I will keep you in my prayers.” May I ask, what do you do, Sister, when people ask you to pray for them?
Thank you for your question. You are not the only one who wonders about the “best” way to pray for someone who asks for your prayers. There are probably as many ways of interceding for people as there are people in the world.
The best and most perfect prayer always and in every case is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. If you can ask a priest to please offer Mass for the intentions of the person who has asked you to pray, that is intercessory prayer par excellence. Why? Because it is Christ Himself interceding before the Father.
Pray the Rosary for the person who asked for your prayers. Our Blessed Mother hears and answers the prayers of us, her children.
Traditional Catholic devotions, such as novenas, praying the Stations of the Cross are powerful intercessory prayers also.
The following ideas come from retreats I have attended, books, conversations, meditations, and other ways, also. They work for me. I’ll use the name “John” in the following samples:
- Pray the Our Father, either silently or vocally, and put in the person’s name during the prayer. Here is an example of the Our Father prayed for a person named John. “John’s Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come within John, Thy Will be done by John. Give John this day his daily bread and forgive him his trespasses, as he forgives those who trespass against him. And lead him not into temptation, but deliver John from all evil. Amen.”
- When the prayer is for someone who has strayed away from the faith, or is somehow lost, pray to Our Blessed Mother and enroll (John) in “Mary’s Lost and Found Society.” To enroll, simply say “Dear Mother, I make the intention here and now of placing John in your Lost and Found Society. Please take care of John.” That’s it. Leave the rest to Our Lady.
- Sister Briege McKenna tells people to pray the following prayer: “Holy Spirit, I ask you to stir up the graces of John’s Baptism within his soul to strengthen and help him.”
- While praying, close your eyes and think of Christ dying on the Cross on Calvary. Still with your eyes closed, or if you prefer while gazing at a crucifix, see yourself climbing Calvary with your bundle of requests for prayers, or if you prefer, see yourself walking up Calvary with John. Kneel at the foot of the cross and ask Jesus to take care of him. Then, see yourself walking alone back down Calvary and not looking back, saying “Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place these intentions (for John) in your hands.” Leave the rest to Christ.
- Light a votive candle at your church, if it uses votive candles. Kneel and tell Our Lord that you have lit the candle with John in mind; say a prayer, asking that its burning become a symbol, a reminder, a concrete expression of your prayer. People like it when you say you lit a candle and said a prayer for them. People also place the lighted candle near a certain saint’s picture or statue, asking for that saint’s intercession.
- If you like to sing, find a hymn and place John’s name in it as above. Sing it with all your heart.
- Place a photo of the person who is asking you for prayers in your Bible. Choose the verse you would like to place it near. This doesn’t replace personal prayer; I do it in addition to personal prayer.
Our good God is a very gracious listener. He waits to hear us pray. He loves so much to have us come together to pray for each other. I invite you to share your comments about ways of praying for others.
Thank you for your question and until next time,
Sister Laus Gloriae, O.C.D.
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