The Prayers of the Faithful

The last part of the Liturgy of the Word is called the Prayer of the Faithful, the prayer of the baptized. In this prayer the baptized have a special opportunity to exercise their priestly ministry.

The bishop or priest opens this prayer with an invitation to the assembly, “Let us pray…”

Next, the deacon or another minister announces the intentions and the community responds with a common prayer. Finally, the priest gathers up all the intentions and directs them to God.

In the scriptures Christ, has been teaching us how to be concerned about all peoples, how to be servant of all peoples. The way we pray the Prayer of the Faithful reveals how well we have learned the lessons Christ has taught us. In preparing these intentions, it will be important to ask ourselves what or who in our world needs the compassion of Christ, his mercy, his healing, and his tenderness?

The challenge in composing the intentions is to make them as universal as possible while at the same time attending to the needs of the community at worship. This is not the time to single out one individual or group of individuals from the immediate community. Rather, this is the time to pray for all individuals who may have the same need as some individuals in our community.

One of the greatest dangers in composing these intentions is the temptation to propose the answer to the need prayed for by including a “that phrase.” In a word, we tell God what to do. These kinds of petitions are prayers in which we presume that we know better than God how to answer this need.

Another difficulty is that the community response sometimes lacks a prayer quality. It becomes the sing–song response of a semi-conscious assembly. Inviting the community to sing its response can have the effect of slowing the response and making it more deliberate. There are many simple sung responses, such as, “O God, hear us, hear our prayer,” or “Lord, hear our prayer,” that can enhance the quality of this prayer.

Lastly, it is important for the community to understand that all that has been prayed is carried forth with the procession of gifts. All are placed in Christ’s hands for transformation.

Next week: The Preparation of the Gifts and the Altar