Praying for others is an opportunity to serve as joyful missionary disciples. We encounter Jesus in prayer as we speak to him about the suffering, sorrows and needs of those who ask us for prayers. One could say that if our Father in Heaven knows what we need before we ask, why is it important to ask? Jesus is always teaching us. When we take time for intercessory prayer, we are taking our petitions to Jesus. “He is the one intercessor with the Father on behalf of all” and is “able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him,” in addition, the “Holy Spirit intercedes for us” (CCC 2634). Thus, as we recognize more and more that our encounter with Jesus impels us to long for others to know him, we become more attentive to the needs of others and how we have a role in intercessory prayer.
When we encounter Jesus through intercessory prayer, our relationship with him grows ever deeper. We recognize his love for each person, and as we grow in likeness to him, we too can realize our love for each person. We come to love as he loves, and the joy of knowing his love impels us to unleash the Gospel through our prayers.
Marker 10.2 of Unleash the Gospel includes a message about the role of intercessors and intercessory prayer, saying: “Intercessory prayer cultivates the soil for the sowing of the Word.” When we sow the Word of God, we are also participating in the cultivation of souls. We long for our pilgrimage to bring us to our Heavenly homeland, and we hope that those who do not know Christ will join us in this pilgrimage of faith. Within the Archdiocese of Detroit, we are embarking on the bold initiative of Families of Parishes. The soil has begun to be cultivated, and now for the sake of the salvation of souls, it is time to hold fast to the mission as the Holy Spirit leads us in building a civilization of love.
In the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 9, we find that the disciples tried to heal a boy that was possessed by a mute spirit. When they were unable, they brought him to Jesus, who healed him. When they asked Jesus why they could not drive out that spirit, Jesus answered, “This kind can only come out through prayer” (Mk 9:29). As we embrace Families of Parishes, obstacles should not surprise us, but impel us forward. There are human, practical obstacles, but there are also obstacles that arise with any battle in the Christian life. Marker 10.3 of Unleash the Gospel addresses our training ground and our need to realize victory over spiritual opposition. “We must use all of the weapons the Church has given us: prayer, especially the rosary, Scripture, the sacraments and sacramentals such as holy water.” These weapons are all important for intercessory prayer.
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament gives a powerful witness to our faith in intercessory prayer. We encounter Jesus, truly present in the Holy Eucharist. We pray for the needs of the many who ask our prayers, and for those who do not ask and in this way, we grow in our awareness of the real presence of Jesus. By taking time for Adoration, and inviting another to join us, we give witness to the power of the Gospel as we “make disciples of all nations” with the assurance that He is with us always, “until the end of the age” (Mt 28:20).
Every Family of Parishes needs to foster and support a Prayer and Intercession Team because we rely on intercessory prayer to help us to receive the graces to truly bring forth much fruit for the Church. We are joined with the intercessory prayers of the Saints who continue to pray for each of us and for the Church. We also invite you to join the virtual conference Unleashing the Power of Intercessory Prayer to discover the ways your parish or Family of Parishes can intentionally implement intercessory prayer.
May our Patroness, Saint Anne, pray for us! May Blessed Solanus Casey, pray for us! And may each of us become dedicated prayer warriors through the ministry of intercessory prayer!