How should I pray when someone asks for my prayers?

Ask a Carmelite Sister…

Dear 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?

Dear Friend,

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.


Newly Released Christmas CD from the Carmelite Sisters.

A sacred stillness wraps itself gently around Carmel each Christmas. Peace descends and seeps its way into the very atmosphere we breathe. In the quiet tranquility before Christmas, expectant prayer reaches new depths within our souls. At midnight, when the Christ Child is laid into the crèche, Carmel is ablaze with joy. Sharing Christmas in Carmel is our gift to you, that you, too, may experience new hope and joy this Christmas – the joy of Christ, our Savior, Who has come.

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Promoting a Deeper Spiritual Life Among Families through Healthcare, Education and Retreats

The Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles strive to give striking witness as a vibrant, thriving community of dedicated women with an all-consuming mission. It is our God-given mission, a mission of the heart, a mission of loving service to the poor, the sick, the needy and the uneducated. Our loving service overflows from each sister’s profound life of prayer. We strive to reflect His life and hope and His promise to all that light has come into our world and darkness has not overcome it.

A look at the history of our community, with its motherhouse in Alhambra, California, reveals how its life-giving presence has come about. During the beginning decades of the 1900s just as the epic Mexican revolution was subsiding, a ruthless religious persecution was gaining momentum in Mexico. This horrible persecution accompanied the birth and humble beginnings of our community, a legacy that Mother Luisita, our foundress, and her two companions brought with them as religious refugees entering the Unites States in 1927.

Those seeds planted by Mother Luisita, now a candidate for sainthood, have taken deep root in the United States since those early days. People and places have changed throughout the years, yet the heart of our mission remains. As an autonomous religious institute since 1983 we continue to carry out our loving service in our healthcare facilities, retreat houses and schools which remain to this day centers of life and hope. Today we are moving forward together “Educating for Life with the Mind and Heart of Christ” in schools, being “At the Service of the Family for Life” through health and eldercare and “Fostering a Deeper Spiritual Life” through individual and group retreats. At the heart of our vocation is a passionate mission of loving service which facilitates our life-giving encounter with the living God.

The heritage of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles is rooted in the spirituality of Carmel, the Gospels, the Church, with our particular charism derived from our beloved Foundress, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

In His merciful goodness, God has graced our Institute with the Carmelite charism which has its roots in a long history and living tradition. The spirituality of St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross is rooted in this tradition. Carmel means enclosed garden in which God Himself dwells. The divine indwelling in the soul is the foundation of Teresa's doctrine. Thus our vocation is a grace by which contemplation and action are blended to become an apostolic service to the Church.

Our ideal finds a living expression in the life and charism of our beloved Foundress, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament, whose spirit we faithfully preserve and foster.

Our life is characterized by: - A life of prayer and union with God - A deep love for Jesus in the Holy Eucharist - Devotion to our Blessed Mother - Steadfast fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church - Praying for priests - Commitment to works of the apostolate in ecclesial service

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4 Comments

  1. Sister, just this morning I was thinking about this! Is our Lord good, or what? I have kept a prayer notebook for years and when people ask me to pray for them I write their name in my prayer notebook. Before Mass, or in Adoration, I say, “and for the intentions in my prayer notebook” when I’m naming my intentions. Does that cover the people and their requests in my notebook? Or should I be saying each name? I would be so disappointed if my prayer intentions for others didn’t work because I’ve been doing it wrong! But, I always figured that, 1) God knows who is in my prayer notebook, and 2) He knows what they need! What do you think? Thanks for the column! I enjoy reading it.

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