Praying Outside of the Box

I’m sure none of you have ever had this experience; someone is dealing with something difficult, and you promise to pray for them.  Meanwhile you’re thinking, “Remember to pray for them, remember to pray for them…”

I have been in that situation more times than I’d like to admit, which usually brings me to prayer saying, “For all those I’ve promised to pray for” – for surely God will remember to whom I made that promise even if I don’t!  While it is true that He will remember if I forget, I’ve always wanted to find ways to help me remember the people who need my prayers.

Over the years I have found different ways to help me remember people in prayer.  These are typically tools I have learned from others, so I take no credit for them.  That is a great thing about the Body of Christ – we’re all here to help each other!  One way I have learned is to pray for that person immediately.  That way I have already fulfilled my promise to them.  Usually this is only the first of many prayers I offer, but at least I’ve offered that one in case my horrible memory gets the best of me.

Once I was attending a bridal shower, and one of my friends won a beautiful mug as a prize for one of the activities.  I commented on how nice it was, and before we left, she decided that she wanted me to have it.  This friend had been working very hard to pay off her student loans so she could join the religious order she felt called to enter.  Shortly after I brought the mug home, I decided that every time I used it, I would say a prayer for her.  I thought it would be a great concrete reminder to keep her in prayer.  My very generous friend is now a religious sister in Mexico, and years later, I still offer a prayer (usually a Hail Mary) for her every time I grab that mug for my morning cup of coffee. 

I have another friend who is struggling with infertility.  She and her husband sent out a request that we join them in praying a novena to St. Gianna for her upcoming surgery.  I found that having a concrete method of praying daily for this friend was very helpful, and it made me think what a great idea it is to give people (especially people like me) a specific way to pray for you.  It really helped me remember!

Recently one of my favorite ways to remember others in prayer is my “Prayer Box.”  It has become custom for my mom to give us little religious gifts at Easter, and this year, one of those gifts was a small decorated box that looks like it used to hold mints.  On the top it says “Prayer Box” and inside it are tiny sheets of paper and a miniature pencil.  Soon after I received it, I began jotting down as many people as I could think of that needed my prayers, and I continue to add to it.  I keep the box on my nightstand, and my husband and I often open it to read our prayer intentions out loud before bed.  One great thing about writing down these prayers in pencil is that when a prayer has been answered, I can erase the intention, thanking God for his goodness!  It is also a great feeling to get prayer intentions out on paper, having them all in one spot.  It feels like I am literally placing needs in God’s hands (by way of a tiny box). 

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Maybe you have a much better memory than I do and don’t need these tools to help you remember to pray for others (if so, consider yourself blessed!).  If you are like me, I hope that you find ways that work for you - perhaps think ‘outside of the box.’  The important thing is that you are praying for others.  For, as the Catechism states, “Intercession is a prayer of petition which leads us to pray as Jesus did.” (CCC 2634)