Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.St. Padre Pio
Intercessory prayer, or praying for others and their intentions, is so important. With so many people asking us for prayer intentions and knowing that the Lord wants us to pray for our brothers and sisters, we know that intercessory prayer is powerful and crucial. Regardless, sometimes it can get overwhelming if we’re not sure where to begin. I regret to say that for a period of time, I stopped praying for others simply because I didn’t know how. Fortunately, I learned a couple of great ways to pray intercessory prayers, and now I pray for others more than I ever have. Hopefully, these 5 forms of intercessory prayer will inspire you to become a prayer warrior.
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1 Spontaneous prayer
Spontaneous or improvisational prayer involves praying “off the cuff.” Instead of reading a prayer or preparing what you’re going to say, you make up this prayer as you go. Essentially, you pray about whatever’s on your heart and let the words flow. Spontaneous prayer unfolds naturally as your bring your intentions to the Lord. I like to pray this way as soon as I hear a prayer request. When someone asks me to pray for them or when I read of a prayer request on Twitter, I immediately stop what I’m doing to pray a Hail Mary, or I bring the intention to the Lord and pray from my heart.
2 Write down your prayer intentions
Writing down my prayer intentions helps me to remember them and to make time to pray for them. I recommend writing them in a place where you’ll see them multiple times a day. The best place to write down intentions is in a notebook, on a notecard, in a prayer journal, or in a planner. Wherever you keep your intentions, bring it to your Holy Hour or your time spent in prayer so your prayer list is close at hand. During your time in prayer, you can write down and read through your intentions so you can pray for them by name.
Click here to read Holy Hour How-To’s
3 Pray the rosary
You can offer your rosary for just one of your intentions, or you could pray it with all of them in mind. While this may sound overwhelming, it’s not that hard. One way is by bringing all of your intentions to the Lord at the beginning of your rosary by praying for them by name. If you want to get more intentional, you can pray each Hail Mary for a different intention, cycling through your prayer list. This intercessory prayer method can also work for the Divine Mercy Chaplet if you pray for a different intention with each “For the sake of his sorrowful passion” prayer. Additionally, you can pray each station in the Stations of the Cross for a different intention.
4 Fasting and mortifications
Although they’re not technically forms of prayer, fasting and taking on mortifications are powerful ways to intercede for others. We know about fasting from Lent as the practice of giving up food or a certain kind of food for a period of time. I’ve found that mortifications are a lesser-known and lesser-practiced way of interceding. They involve giving up something that isn’t food for an intention, like staying off of social media, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or sleeping on the floor. Fasting and mortifications give us ways to make sacrifices throughout the day. We can use these practices to offer up our inconveniences and sufferings for our intentions and for the people we’re praying for. They’re not supposed to be easy; in fact, sometimes they’re downright uncomfortable and hurt a lot. When fasting and mortifications get hard, use the pain as an opportunity to pray for your intentions and offer up your suffering. Jesus made suffering holy through his Passion, so you can unite your suffering to his for the sake of your intentions.
5 Make a depth chart
If you have a lot of people in your life who are growing closer to God, a depth chart is a useful thing to make! A depth chart lists important people in your life and organizes them depending on where they are in their walk with the Lord. It also gives you a visual of your role in spiritual multiplication I learned how to make a depth chart from FOCUS missionaries because they use them to keep track of and pray for the students they encounter. Their depth charts have categories for new contacts, growing disciples, and disciple makers, just to name a few. When Courtney, who’s my discipler, was preparing me to be a disciple maker, she helped me make a depth chart of my own. I still use it during prayer and I refer to it when I need to check in with my disciple, Morghan and the other girls I pray for.
The first section of your depth chart is for people who bring you to life. Here, you can list men and women who inspire you and motivate you in your faith journey. They’re holy people who lead you to holiness and Sainthood. The second line is a place to write your own name to remind you to pray for yourself. Underneath your name, list three people who you closely invest in. For this section, focus on people who you’re close to and you know very well. These can be friends, disciples, or anyone who you invest deeply in by consistently meet with them and helping them with their walk with the Lord. Finally, at the bottom of your depth chart, write no more than twelve people to pray for and reach out to. These can be new friends, more close friends, co-workers, or anyone else you encounter. These people aren’t exactly disciples because you’re not investing yourself quite as much in them, but they’re still a priority. This section is for people that you pray for and talk to every so often, but still care deeply about.
If you want a template of the depth chart I just described, I made a free printable of one for you! You can find it and download it at the end of the blog post!
There are so many ways to practice intercessory prayer, but I hope these are enough to get you started! No matter how you pray for others, the most important thing to do is just show up to pray. Bring your intentions wholeheartedly to the Lord, and he’ll take care of them according to his time. We might not see the fruits of our prayers during this life, but we still pray in faith knowing that our prayers matter.
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