The Living Rite column explores what you will see, hear, taste, touch or smell while at church this weekend.
As I read the Scriptures for this weekend, I felt the words moving us to pray for one another. We will hear about laying on of hands in prayer, that we (and our prayer) are a reason of hope for one another and the Spirit is our Advocate in all things.
The greatest common prayer we possess is the Mass. In its celebration, we experience little prayers — the opening and closing prayers, prayers of intercession, the prayer over the gifts, the Lord’s Prayer and the prayer after Communion — all directed to the central prayer, that of the eucharistic prayer.
In what other common ways does your parish pray outside of the Mass? Is it your parish custom to pray the rosary? Have you seen a special book in your gathering area where people can record prayer needs? Have you ever written a prayer request in this book so that the entire parish can pray on your behalf? Does your parish have a prayer line, where a particular need is passed from one person to another, who will pray for them?
Many parishes have small groups that join together for prayer. Some gather for the energy of charismatic prayer, while others prefer the meditative style of Taize. Perhaps your people gather for novenas or the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
Does your parish have prayer partners? Many Protestant churches have a highly developed prayer partner network. In the Catholic Church, you may find only one or two parishes in your area that offer prayer partners.
When I have witnessed this ministry, it usually was offered after a Mass or service. People, who had been trained in this ministry, stood in places around the church. This allowed people with a need to approach the prayer partner and have prayer offered on their behalf.
When you approach such a minister, you can offer your name if you wish, and then mention your special request. Or you can simply say, “I need prayer.”
As mentioned in the first reading, where the disciples laid hands upon the one being prayed for, a prayer partner may lightly touch your shoulder or hold your hand. You may experience a time of silence as the prayer partner waits for the Holy Spirit to lead. Then you will hear your prayer partner pray on your behalf in a voice audible only to you. The prayer may include not only your petition to God, but also thanksgiving for all that has already flowed from God’s hands.
I have found that the prayer of a prayer partner leaves me feeling blessed and encouraged by another’s prayers for me. People are encouraged to come to prayer partners as often as they need. Prayer partners commit themselves to strict confidentiality; what is shared in the time of prayer remains between you, your prayer partner and God.
The New Evangelization calls us to a deeper prayer life. Be encouraged then in the many ways your parish prays, one for another.
Zahorik is pastoral associate at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, Oshkosh.