Ray shared a wonderful story in the comment section of yesterday`s post on intercessory prayer. The story includes this line,
“What do you say, then, when you pray?”
This is a great question! When you offer a prayer for someone, what do you say or do? How do you pray for another? How do you pray for your own needs?
Do you use memorized prayers? (We were taught by the nuns in high school to stop and pray the Catholic troika of an Our Father, Hail Mary and the Glory Be each time we heard an emergency siren. Since the school was a stone`s throw from a hospital, we had many prayer breaks during class.)
Do you pray the rosary, or novenas?
Do you compose your own petitions?
Do you ask God for a specific response? (I like to give God suggestions on the best way to answer my prayers 😉 )
Do you think of the person, and in the silence lift them to God in mind and heart?
I would love to hear from you, and learn from your wisdom…
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We do not publish specific intentions online, for privacy reasons.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.
My fondest memories of advent are from the year that I spent in a Benedictine Monastery. The Sisters of St. Benedict really knew how to do Advent right! The monastery was imbued with a sense of stillness and peace, of patient and watchful waiting. Nature collaborated in setting the tone for the season, blanketing the grounds and trees with sound-muffling snow. Music from the Monks of Weston Priory was a favorite at the time. A current album was titled Winters Coming Home. To this day, the image on the album cover and the title song goes through my head on those deep, still, winter days; when shades of white blend into blue.
Winter not only comes home here on the prairies. She`s often the guest that overstays her welcome. By April we`re ready to send her packing! Yet, in these early days of winter the freshness of the snow and crisp temperatures invite us into coziness. The challenge is to find the silence within.
How do we find monastic silence in our homes? How do we make room for Advent stillness in the midst of pre-Christmas craziness? For me, I need to be intentional in limiting my computer time. I need to leave my iPhone and iPad in another room so it`s not at arm`s reach throughout the day. I need to turn the TV off more often. I have to try running outside without my iTunes playlist blaring in my brain.
I just realized that this sounds more like a list of Lenten resolutions. And, we all know how bad I am at keeping those! I know that I can`t give up all these things. But, hopefully, I can put them aside a bit each day to make room for listening.