Many Catholics walk the path of faith alone, without the support of fellow believers. Our parishes are filled with people who come to Mass every Sunday but have never personally experienced God’s love. God desires us to experience his love, yet sometimes it is hard for us to open ourselves up to Him.
One way to help people start along the path of knowing their shepherd is by praying with them. If we can help them encounter God in group prayer, they are more likely to try personal prayer as well. When we give God a chance to work in our hearts through prayer, great things can happen.
A few weeks ago, I attended a Night of Worship at a local parish. Besides praise and worship, Eucharistic adoration, and confession, there were also prayer teams that would pray with people for their needs. I had the privilege of serving on one of the prayer teams.
Throughout the night, we prayed for a variety of people, the young, the old, singles, and married people. Some needed prayer for vocational discernment, while others asked for patience, and still others asked God for physical or spiritual healing. God worked powerfully through the prayer teams and many left with a greater sense of peace and trust in God. It was truly amazing how such a simple gesture as praying for a person for a few quick minutes could really help change their life.
This experience is often the exception and not the norm for Catholics. A handful of people may experience a powerful moment of prayer at a retreat, a Night of Worship, or a conference, but after those events end, they rarely experience this again. However, this does not have to be the case.
One way to foster the habit of prayer with others is to make it part of gatherings in your home. For example, after having dinner with some friends invite them to mention their prayer requests to you and then pray with them.
Jesus reminds us that the power of group prayer when he says, “Again, [amen,] I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:19-20).
Another way to foster prayer among believers would to be have a weekly parish prayer night. For one hour a week, prayer teams could station themselves in the church and be available to pray with individuals. It seems like a simple idea, yet I think God could do so much for our parishes if we just opened ourselves up to him in prayer.
Still another way to pray with others is to do so when prayer requests come up in conversation. Many times people ask us to pray for a particular intention and we agree to do so. However, often we forget to follow-up and pray for them. I wonder how many prayers go unanswered because people forget to pray to God for their friends. Instead of waiting to pray for someone, ask them if you can both pray for the intention in the moment. This way, you don’t forget to pray for the person and you invite God into your conversation.
These are just a few ways to integrate prayer into your daily interactions with others. Above all, ask God for opportunities to pray with other people, and then see how He changes your life.