Welcome to this series celebrating the launch of my booklet from Our Sunday Visitor,The Handy Little Guide to Prayer! I’ve asked some friends and colleagues to share prayers and tips to supplement the information in this booklet.
When it comes to intercessory prayer, I like to think that God’s motto is “No job too small.” We teach our children to go to God with big things and little things, but as we grow up, we sometimes pray as if only the big things are worthy of God’s attention.
I began paying extra attention to the way people talk about prayer when I started writing The Handy Little Guide to Prayer for Our Sunday Visitor. As I wrote this booklet during the pandemic, when I wasn’t seeing too many people who didn’t live with me, I turned my focus to the ways prayer was mentioned on social media. I’d already been following Catholic TV producer Bonnie Rodgers on Twitter, and her daily custom of a #morningcommuteprayer was a fascinating call to prayer for big and small intentions alike.
Intercessory prayer is a type of prayer in which we ask God to bless others in specific ways. In my booklet, I mention using moments or transitions in your day as prayer cues. Bonnie’s Morning Commute Prayers are the perfect example of this practice.
I interviewed Bonnie, the producer of CatholicTV’s signature talk show, This Is the Day (Bonnie also works in Business Development and Expansion for the station) about this prayer practice and why she shares it on social media.
When did you start posting your Morning Commute Prayer intentions on Twitter?
My Catholic experiences included making the sign of the cross at cemeteries, ambulances and all emergency vehicles, accident scenes, passing a church (obvi!) so being aware of everyday situations that required Divine Intervention was almost rote for me. But almost two years ago now when I was driving into work with the car windows open on an amazingly beautiful New England spring day I saw an early-teen boy being taunted at a bus stop. He was carrying something and kids seemed to be teasing him about it. I am a super busybody and really wanted to jump out of the car to intervene but realized that it could potentially cause more problems for the teen (can you imagine the kids’ reactions?) but I felt compelled to do something without exacerbating the situation and then it came to me that I could pray for him and even for the kiddos taunting him.
Why do you share these on social media?
I made the decision to put my commute prayer on Twitter because teasing and taunting take place everywhere and quite frankly amplifying my prayer for that teen seemed necessary. I kept thinking of how it was such a beautiful day and his day was off to a horrendous start.
Do you choose these intentions ahead of time or do you pray as you go?
Normally I pray as I go, but there have been times when someone has DM’d asking for a prayer intention or when an anniversary of some kind comes up. During COVID I did a lot of neighborhood walking and was seeing Marian statues, so for the month of May I started #ISpyMary. I really love how these public displays of devotion break into our lives when we least expect it.
Is there a particular intention that has ever gone viral or attracted a great deal of attention?
This winter, a very pragmatic prayer for cleared accessible walkways (frozen snow piles and melted slush in the Northeast are a hazard) for those in wheelchairs, garnered the attention of an accessibility rights organization and some replies included personal experiences with slush.
How does the Morning Commute Prayer connect you to others who pray?
Oddly enough, I am a fairly private person but sharing my observations and requests for prayer has bolstered my awareness that our intercessory prayers – whether during the workday or the Liturgy – are our way of expanding our community. The “who is your neighbor?” question is played out daily in the digital landscape in so many wonderful ways.
I’ll be sharing more about this book soon. It’s not a long book, and it’s not at all a difficult read, but there’s just so much in there to ponder! Lara makes it easy to live the works of mercy – and shows us how we already do live those works of mercy in our everyday lives.
When Lara asked me to write about intercessory prayer as a work of mercy, I immediately agreed and asked about my deadline for the piece, which turned out to be two weeks. She had it back in two hours, because it turned out that I couldn’t get anything else done until I’d written down my thoughts about this.
During a crisis, many people find that they have a hard time praying. They know they need the prayers, but they feel like God is far away or not listening – or maybe they haven’t connected with God in a while. When someone comes to you and asks for prayer, that is an act of great trust both in you and in God. This is a work of mercy that costs you very little but means so very much to others. By praying for someone in need, you are shouldering their burden right along with them.
I was called on to sing at a funeral Mass one day this past summer, and after I read the obituary it became clear that the death was due to addiction. Sadly, this is not the first in that family to die in this way. These are not people I know, but they live in my neighborhood.
On the night before the funeral, I woke up suddenly in the middle of the night and that was on my mind. I couldn’t go back to sleep because I kept thinking about it, so I decided to pray a Rosary. On the bedside table, I had a knotted-twine Rosary made for me by a friend.
I dedicated that Rosary for the repose of the soul of that recently deceased young man.
As soon as I finished the whole Rosary, I went right off to sleep. I guess I was not being let off the hook — I needed to pray for him right that minute.
In the morning before the funeral, I got in touch with the friend who had made that Rosary for me, and asked her to pray too.
An urgent impulse to pray for a soul who has clearly struggled in life is not something we should ignore. And who better to intercede for such a soul than the Blessed Mother — our Mother?
As we commemorate the holy souls this month, let’s remember them in our prayers, especially in the Rosary.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Scared straight: but with Purgatory.
The story above reminds me of Theresa Linden’s novel, Tortured Soul, a compelling tale of a haunting — with a twist. Jeannie Lyons is pushed out of her family’s home by her older brother and into a remote cottage that also houses a gruesome “presence.” Afraid to be at home, but with nowhere else to go, Jeannie enlists the help of the sort-of-creepy guy her brother had once pushed her to date. This edge-of-the-seat story of guilt and forgiveness emphasizes the importance of praying for the souls of the deceased — and would make a great movie.
Tortured Soulreminded me deeply that the deceased need our prayers — not only our deceased loved ones and friends, but in particular those who have no one to pray for them. Maybe they were alienated from family during their lives, as depicted in Linden’s novel; maybe their loved ones don’t pray. But we can, and we should.
Copyright 2020 Barb Szyszkiewicz This post contains Amazon affiliate links. I was provided a free review copy of Susan Tassone’s book, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.
I’ve been a regular at Eucharistic Adoration for just over two years, and it’s taken me this long to find a way to use the time as a prayer intercessor for others.
For too long, I’d gone to the Adoration Chapel with an agenda and a tote bag: a spiritual book (or three) to read, a rosary, a journal, and my iPad so I could pray Liturgy of the Hours. It was getting to the point where Adoration was another task to check off my list, a quiet hour to read a book I’d promised to review. Check, check, check.
Checking off tasks is not what Adoration is supposed to be about.
I’d been noticing for a while that my friend Allison Gingras would share on Facebook that she was heading to Adoration, and offer to pray for any special intentions people posted. I knew she wouldn’t mind if I adopted her idea, so I created a graphic with a photo from our Adoration Chapel and shared it on Facebook for the first time in late February.
The response was tremendous. Over 40 likes. Over 35 comments. And a whole host of messages with private intentions. And I wasn’t just hearing from Catholics. I filled 2 index cards, both sides, with intentions posted in under 3 hours.
People are hungry for that intercessory prayer. People carry secret burdens and don’t always know how to ask for help, or even prayer over their situation. It’s a comfort to know that someone else is holding them up in prayer.
I took those two index cards and my rosary to the chapel. I always pray the Franciscan Crown rosary, and it’s a good thing it has 7 decades, because at one bead per intention I needed all those prayers to cover my list, plus my family and one general prayer for any late-breaking intentions (I wasn’t checking Facebook in the chapel.)
Later that day I got an email from one of the deacons at our parish, who’s my friend on Facebook. He wanted to let me know that he and his wife were going to begin inviting their Facebook friends to share intentions, to be prayed for during their Adoration hour.
He also said that this is a great way to evangelize. I hadn’t thought about that, but it’s true. Originally I’d hesitated to mention on Facebook that I was going to Adoration–but this has shown me that it’s something needed and appreciated.
I learned the Morning Offering my sophomore year in high school. (It was only my 5th year in a Catholic school, so I still had a long way to go to catch up on things like that.)
The room was quiet. Heads were bowed, eyes were closed and hands were folded as we sat at our desks for morning prayers before beginning class.
My homeroom teacher, Sr. Lucille Marie, would add at the end of the prayer, “And for the one in this room who needs it most today.”
Sometimes, the silence would be broken as a student (or several) whispered, “Me.”
All these years later, I still remember those whispers.
I remember those girls who projected all the confidence in the world every other minute of the day, but who let down their shields for that one moment when they could anonymously admit that they were in need of prayer.
You don’t have to be in a classroom to pray this prayer. You can pray it for the people in your home. You can pray it for the people standing in line with you at the supermarket. You can pray it for people driving ahead of you and behind you on the highway.
Where two or three are gathered, you can pray this prayer:
For the one in this room who needs it most, I pray.
God knows what they need. He can take it from there.
This month I’m joining all the cool kids in the #Write31Days adventure! I didn’t pick a keyword or a theme, because just getting something written for all 31 days is challenge enough for me right now.