Intercessory prayer is an important part of my online prayer community, Our Lady of the Round Table. In the past days, we have rejoiced in prayers answered. But for each prayer taken off our list, another request is quickly added. The many needs weigh heavily on all hearts. There is often nothing we can do, but pray. And pray we do.
We do not publish specific intentions online, for privacy reasons. But the prayers shared among us are filled with names of family and friends who are in need of God`s grace at this moment in their lives. Some of us are better at this than others. One member has become the `keeper of names`. She faithfully and lovingly lists the litany of intentions that we are remembering each day.
We also intentionally include Mary and all the saints in our prayers, believing that these holy women and men will `pray with us, pray for us, and pray for them`.
Praying for each other is a Christian tradition that spans denominations. Praying with the communion of saints is more of a Catholic tradition; and one that is often misunderstood. Why are you praying to the saints? Why do you need someone to intercede for you? It`s God who answers prayers. So why not pray directly to God? It`s important to remember that we are not praying TO the saints. We are asking the saints to join us in our prayer.
Many years ago, there was a woman in our parish called Anne. A woman of deep prayer, she reminded me of the prophet Anna in Luke`s story of the presentation of Jesus in the temple. (Luke 2: 36-38) In her later years, Anne battled many health issues and was in frequent pain. But, she attended daily mass faithfully; arriving early and leaving late in order to pray. On days when we had Eucharistic Adoration, she didn`t sign up to stay an hour. She stayed the entire day. And she sat, peaceful and calm. Her eyes gazing at the monstrance on the altar. I asked her once, Anne, what do you do in all that time? Her answer? I pray for each and every one of you.
I was overwhelmed with the graciousness of this gift. Dear, holy Anne prayed for me. She prayed for all of us. Surely, God will hear her prayers!
Of course, God hears all our prayers; from the contemplative meditations of a cloistered monk, to the harried traveler begging to catch their flight. It`s easy to say `I will pray for you`. But, there is extra comfort when a prayerful soul says they will pray for you, because you know they will. And, they will pray mightily! Why would we not believe that the saints are part of this band of mighty pray-ers?
From family and friends and church communities, to prayer circles that span the globe. When it comes to intercessory prayer, there is strength in numbers. And it`s good to know that those numbers include our loved ones and all those who have gone before us into eternal glory.