Growing up, I always knew my mom had a special gift in praying for people. I remember her feeling called to pray for well-known people in Hollywood like Madonna, Tom Cruise, and Rosie O’Donnell who were raised Catholic but had left the faith. My mom felt called to intercede to God on their behalf. Teasingly, I once asked my mom why she spent time doing this, to which she responded, “If I don’t pray for them, who will?” Her answer caught me off guard. Somehow, deep down I knew she was right.
Years later, I can now understand and see that intercessory prayer was a charism for my mom. From the beginning of the Church’s mission, intercessory prayer has been the hidden engine fueling its wider vision and ministry.
In a short amount of time, the Church will find herself in the month of November. It is the month dedicated to remembering and praying for our beloved dead, especially the holy souls in purgatory. This can also be a great time to personally reflect and think about where God may be asking us to pray and intercede more for particular people, events and situations.
Archbishop Vigneron talks about the important role of intercessors in his letter, Unleash the Gospel. He says, “Intercessory prayer cultivates the soil for the sowing of the Word. It can stir up spiritual hunger in a whole city or region so that the hearts of even those who are from God are prepared to hear the Gospel when it is preached to them.” Intercessory prayer is a healthy part of parish life to support evangelistic efforts.
Who are the people we should be praying for?
Well, the short answer is everyone!
The people we don’t like or disagree with.
World and local leaders.
Those who have no one to pray for them.
People who are lonely and hopeless.
The unborn, disabled, refugees and migrant workers.
People who are lukewarm, struggling in faith or have no one to tell them about Jesus.
And yes, even people in Hollywood like Madonna.
There are such needs all around us in our local communities and families. Ask the Holy Spirit to draw your attention to what needs are in the heart of the Father.
What can this look like?
An intercessory prayer team that is regularly informed of parish initiatives and receives updates on how prayers are being answered.
Trained prayer teams after weekend Masses to pray with individuals.
Make a monthly prayer calendar. On each day of the month, pray for a different person, group of people or situation.
As we draw nearer to November, ask the Holy Spirit to give you “intercessory opportunities.” Perhaps it will be to pray with a stranger in the produce aisle at Kroger. Or maybe it will be focused on praying for a particular situation. Seek God’s wisdom and counsel to establish opportunities to strengthen your charism as an intercessor in the name of Jesus Christ.
Maybe you do not have a charism of intercessory prayer like my mom, but we are all called to pray for others as disciples of Jesus Christ.
With so much need around each of us, where is God calling you to pray with greater faith and expectancy?