The joy of praying for others

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A few weeks ago a friend of mine sent me an urgent message. She is the captain of a large research vessel and she was looking at the forecast for the day ahead. The weather was not looking good and she was worried about how she and her crew would moor the ship safely at the end of the day after a long voyage.

Would we pray for a secure mooring?

Absoutely. What a prayer request! I texted my prayer group inviting them – and their children – to pray. They responded quickly, naming the saints they would ask to intercede and saying how excited their children were to pray.

I prayed all day and invited my children to pray with me. My friend had told me what time they would dock, and I was making dinner as the time approached. I spoke with God about the ship every time I thought about it and asked him to lift the fog and guide the hands and spirits of the crew to bring the ship safely to its dock.

While I was doing the dishes after dinner, my ship’s captain friend wrote to me to let me know they had done it. The crew had had a bumpy ride, but they had docked safely. I shared the update with my friends and family who were also praying. It was a relief and even exhilarating to feel that we had played a role – however small – in guiding this boat home.

I absolutely love being asked to pray. Even when the intention isn’t as dramatic as praying for a ship to come through safe and sound through the fog and rough waters in its dock, I’m so happy when someone lets me get into a problem or a dilemma and ask for my prayers. I feel so honored to be given a request that matters to someone I love – or even a stranger on social media.

We are all part of the Body of Christ. To be invited to carry an intention to Jesus in someone’s name is an extraordinary gift and privilege. And praying is something I can do.

There are so many things we cannot accomplish. We may not be able to heal the sick, resolve international disputes, or offer meaningful comfort to a grieving family. Sometimes we don’t have time to cook a meal for someone – and even when we do, that gift still seems like it wasn’t enough.

But we can still pray. We can take a break during the day to say a Hail Mary to someone. We can pray a rosary or talk to the Blessed Mother or a favorite saint about someone’s concerns while doing household chores. We can bring intentions to mass. We can offer the challenges of the day to someone who carries a particularly heavy burden.

Even when we can’t find the words, we can keep people in our hearts, praying for and with them. What a joy to be able to accompany each other in this way all along the path of life.

Prayer can move mountains and cause miracles. Hope you saw this happen too. But even when it doesn’t lead to the results we hope for, prayer has a powerful impact. It helps us feel connected to people, places and issues beyond ourselves. It opens our minds to the challenges that others experience. It broadens our perspective. It helps us grow in gratitude and hope. It deepens our friendship with God and with others. Prayer changes us in important and significant ways.

“My little children,” said Saint John Vianney, “your hearts are small, but prayer stretches them and enables them to love God. Through prayer we get a taste of heaven, and something from heaven descends upon us. Prayer never leaves us without gentleness. It is the honey that flows in souls and makes all things sweet. When we pray correctly, sorrows disappear like snow in front of the sun.

The sorrows disappear, miracles happen, and the ships return home safe and sound. Amen.

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