I have a quick bicycle commute to the parish from home. It takes me about eight minutes in the morning, as it’s largely downhill. Then I sweat a bit on the 11-minute return leg. My legs feel good after a winter and wintry spring of mostly inactivity.
During Lent, I turned off the car radio. I’ve largely kept to that discipline these Fifty Days, as I try to remember people in prayer.
Intercessory prayer has never been one of my strong points. One, I forget. Two, in my parish, I recruit people to write them up for Sunday Mass. When someone forgets, I usually go to the prayer from three years prior. I’ll make a few edits and drop in the old petitions as if they were new. Three, I don’t like to ask for help.
On that last bit, I don’t know that it’s a guy thing as much as a me-thing. I remember reading somewhere early in my Catholic life that God knows what we need before we utter it as a request:
Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely. (Psalm 139:4)
A few times, when someone has asked me to pray for them, and I’ve neglected or forgotten, a bad thing happens. They come to me and thank me for my prayers. I figure God is timeless in a sort of science fiction-y time travel way. So I then pray for the person, even though they’ve weathered the storm of their crisis. God sees all moments of all time as a unity, so what can be harmed by presuming on God’s pre-eminence in the fourth dimension?
That said, this is a matter where I can see a little more discipline will be helpful. On the parish staff, each of us was assigned a prayer-partner this year. I got one of our newbies, so that seemed important to remember. I put it on my to-do list, cycled every three days. Mostly successful, it was. But I needed a little more.
During Lent, I tried to remember people by inserting their names in the Hail Mary when I prayed it. I found a decade covered my close family: wife, young miss, my mother, my brother and his wife, their three kids, my sister, and my widowed sister-in-law. My staff colleagues took another decade-and-a-half. Parishioners filled out the rest. More often, I would just pray this altered Hail Mary ending:
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for N, now and all the days of her/his life.
But I was thinking it would be good to have a rote prayer for that daily bike roundtrip. Since the Holy Spirit is much on our minds these days, and the Trinity beckons in another weekend, what if I composed a brief intercessory prayer for people? Something like this:
Loving Father, you have made N and adopted her/him as your very own.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on her/him.
Come Holy Spirit, fill her/his heart with faith and the fire of your love.
I’ve found I stumble over the words a bit. Probably need to get into a rhythm as I avoid potholes and traffic and such.
But a curiosity among other believers reading this, Catholic or otherwise. How do you pray for others? Do you find it enough to keep the person in mind as you pray regularly? I like to image the face of the person, but that’s more difficult when I’m operating a vehicle. And maybe I’m trying to accomplish too much on that nineteen minutes a day. On the other hand, even the uphill trek home has sailed by this week.