praying for others

praying for others

“Please pray for me.” The request which comes from someone in need of healing, or strength, acknowledges the power of one individual to affect the life of the other, through the power of prayer. It’s also an admission of vulnerability: we are no longer self-sufficient (not that we ever were), and the request is an act of reaching out to another. Therefore prayer is personal, and in more ways than one. Praying for another requires us to turn to God. Our prayers ascend to God who gathers them into his own intention for the one who is in need. This type of prayer is called intercessory prayer. We intercede to God on behalf of another, as a generous act of love and care. 

In the case of those who are sick, prayer does not take the place of medical assistance, but complements it. God expects us to use what’s available to help those who are ill, and our prayer then adds another layer of healing. 

However, while we may pray for a particular outcome – for example, that someone is cured of cancer – there is no guarantee that we will get our wish. Does that mean that some prayers work and others don’t? The answer is that all prayer is effective, but not all prayer is answered in the way we wish. If that were the case – if all that we asked for were granted – we would no longer need God, because by having every wish granted, we would have become God ourself!

In prayer we are offering our intentions to God, whose wisdom is greater than our own. We surrender our will to God’s when we pray, putting our faith in God’s mercy and compassion. Sometimes when we pray, we close our eyes, which is a way of trusting in God’s vision, rather than in our own.

The best prayers are the ones that come straight from the heart. Some people pray eloquently but the main thing is for prayer to be genuine – pray as you can, not as you can’t. When visiting the sick, I often take with me a “Pastoral Ministry Companion”, a small book which contains prayers for the sick and dying. In the section headed “Prayers for Protection and Peace,” there is this short prayer which can be offered up for someone who is sick.

Our Lord Jesus Christ,

present with us now in his risen power,

enter into your body and spirit,

take from you all that harms and hinders you,

and fill you with his healing and his peace.


Father David

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