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Whose will are we praying for, really?
With the weather starting to cool and settle into the familiar fall temperatures, I’ve been taking daily walks around my apartment. Week by week, my habits change a bit, but often I have my earbuds in as I listen to music or a podcast, usually by a Christian/Catholic artist or host. Other times I pray the Rosary, use an app such as Hallow or listen to the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist’s recitations on Spotify.
But lately, the earbuds have held less of an appeal to me. Sometimes, I just need silence. Sometimes, I just need to be.
As is often the case, when I enter into the silence or minimize the distractions, God speaks — or, rather, I finally hear the ever-present voice of God penetrating the noise with which I surround myself.
During one walk, I felt called to bring a specific friend to the Lord in prayer. Intercession has never been my strong suit. In fact, intentional prayer — including giving God time to speak into the silence — is a consistent weak spot in my spiritual life. I can commit to daily Rosaries and Mass attendance, but being intentional within the rote prayers, that is more difficult.
But as I walked the circle of my apartment complex and offered this friend up to God, it made me realize how much I pray for myself and how little I pray for others. Sure, when I see a prayer request on social media, I habitually offer up a Hail Mary. And yes, I have begun to set alarms on my phone so that I stop throughout the day to pray for specific intentions.
However, my own personal prayer is usually self-serving. Without realizing it, my prayer — and my relationship with God — is too much about me and what I want or how I want others and situations to change.
Maybe it’s the state of the world, or maybe it’s God finally peeling back the layers of my heart to show me deeper depths, but I’ve realized the beauty of praying for people in a new way.
Recently, some friends and I began praying a 54-day Rosary novena for a specific group of people in our community, and it has been a beautiful reminder that change can happen with prayer, that charity should stem from prayer, that our hope and desires for others should be grounded in prayer.
Around the same time we started this novena, I realized that while I prayed a daily Rosary, I rarely focussed on offering the prayers for other people. I can gladly report that each decade now has its own dedicated person or group — namely, our priests and seminarians, my friends and family — for whom I’m interceding.
Yet, I’m realizing there is another important group I should add to my list, and I want to invite you to join me.
With the election close at hand, I want to encourage everyone to truly take time to intercede for our country. Pray for all those on the ballots, no matter who you are voting for. Pray for your neighbors, everyone voting across the country, that their votes, and our own, as faithful citizens will stem from prayer — not prayer where we tell God what we want, but authentic encounters with God in the silence where we let him speak into our hearts. Above all, pray for softened hearts to the will of God, not to our own expectations of political conversion, because the fruit of that prayer will outlast any election.
It’s easy to focus on ourselves, what we want to happen and what we see as needing to change. We can point fingers at other people or society as a whole and then complain to God in prayer when nothing changes.
But every time we pray “thy kingdom come, thy will be done,” we must remember whose will we are asking for, and we must authentically ask the Father to transform our hearts so that we may respond to his will in our lives and pray that others do the same. For our eternal home is not one that exists in labels. It exists in communion. So let’s start by praying for each other, right here, right now.
Ava Lalor is assistant editor for Our Sunday Visitor and editor for Radiant magazine.