It seems that every day someone asks me to pray for them or for their intention. I am always honored to be asked and I earnestly try to pray for all of the requests that I receive. Praying for others is an important part of my life as a priest, but I am not the only person who can pray for others! As Christians, all of us are called to pray for others. But, why do we do this?
First of all, praying for others is a great act of love. No gift can be greater than a prayer. We believe in the words of Jesus who said, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened.” We believe that God hears our prayers and that he will answer our prayers according to his will. This is perhaps the most awe-inspiring part of Christianity — the great humility of God in promising to hear our prayers! Let’s make use of his promise!
All of us have particular intentions or needs that we pray about. We should ask others to help us by praying with us for these things. When we join our prayers together for a particular cause or intention there is immense spiritual power here. Certainly, God hears our prayers. No matter how many people pray — or how few — it’s not a factor of achieving a “critical mass” of people praying and then God will hear! No, God hears our prayers always, but when many people earnestly and humbly pray for a given intention, faith is increased and blessings abound.
What should we do when someone asks us to pray for them? First of all, don’t forget! How terrible it is to forget the prayer intention of someone who asks us for this favor. Second, pray immediately for them — that day. Perhaps an Our Father or a Hail Mary might be a good way to start.
Perhaps we might stop into church and pray for their intention for a while. Or we might simply take a quiet moment and bring their prayer intention and ours before the Lord. Sometimes an act of fasting can be a most appropriate prayer. Giving up a meal, a dessert, a television program, surfing the internet, or something else we enjoy can be a powerful way of praying for others. Whatever method you use, make sure that you pray when someone asks you to.
Next time you see that person, tell them that you are praying for them. This simple reassurance can have a powerful effect on another’s perseverance through a difficult time. After a period of time, we might move onto another person’s intention, but from time to time the Holy Spirit will prompt us to return to the previous intention.
Let us pray for each other! Even if someone never asks, pray for them! The more that we pray, the more the Lord will bless us, the greater our faith will grow and the closer we will become as a community.
Fr. Girotti, who serves as vicar for canonical services and associate moderator of the Curia, is author of “A Shepherd Tends His Flock.”