Prayer is Not a Production Line

Regular readers know that our email prayerline is an important part of our service of others. All day, every day, we receive numerous requests for prayer. Some are heartbreaking β€” pleas for someone who is dying or in terrible circumstances, perhaps; others are more run-of-the mill requests, to get over a bad cold or have a safe journey and the like; all are taken seriously and prayed for perseveringly by the community. Sometimes we smile over a request, when it is obvious that the person asking thinks of God as their Fairy Godmother and wants, not just good health and happiness but academic and financial success as well β€” oh, and a nice house, a good car, a beautiful girlfriend and a few other things into the bargain. Usually such requests make it clear that the one doing the asking doesn’t have time to ask God about any of this himself (and possibly isn’t actually doing much about it, either), so please would the nuns pray, thanks (the thanks bit is optional). One thinks of sausage machines! At the other extreme are those who are almost afraid to ask anything, and hedge and qualify their requests with so much humility, one wonders whether they see God as a loving Father or as a slightly malevolent Power to be placated.

What I suspect few of the people who use our prayerline appreciate is that they are being prayed for by real people who are genuinely interested in their concerns. And if we are interested, surely God is even more concerned? You are the apple of his eye, how could he not care? Occasionally, we hear back from someone we’ve prayed for, especially if something has turned out well. That is always a joy. But I often think of those who have turned to us in desperate situations, full of blankness and despair, and wonder what has become of them β€” not out of curiosity but out of a sense of connectedness. Prayer is not a production line. To intercede for others isn’t like turning a tap on or off. When people ask us to pray, we pray, and we are all caught up in the prayer of Christ, our eternal High Priest, who alone prays perfectly and unceasingly to the Father.


10 thoughts on “Prayer is Not a Production Line”

  1. What good insights you share! Yes, that there are real human beings who care that are praying, not just like sending a letter to Santa Clause. There are some people I have been praying for over 10 years now, and I only met them once, or knew of them only through a friend. But I prayed for them so much that I do care about them, about there soul. It is beautiful how through prayer we become even more connected. God is good!

  2. Thank you for your prayers for all of us who ask. May I ask a little about how you pray for our requests? My husband and I have a (fairly) regular mid morning prayer routine, and try to bring various needs and concerns to God as part of it. Sometimes we have a little chat together about them before offering them up in a period of silence. I have thought about but not actually achieved starting a book or box so none are forgotten! Any advice, please?

  3. To know that someone else adds their prayers to mine strengthens me when I am very emotionally involved in the situation. I give thanks to God for your prayer line ministry, and that you have been there when I have turned to you.

  4. I don’t quite understand how we are all caught up in the prayer of Christ.

    My own sentiments echo those of Portia and Claire. πŸ™‚

  5. Thank you for all your comments. Forgive me if I reply very sketchily to the two asking about prayer. There are some notes on intercessory prayer over on our main website which I hope will prove helpful:

    There is no right/wrong way to pray. Personally I find simply holding all the intentions before God is enough: no words are necessary, but I don’t see any reason why one should not talk them over beforehand if one wishes.

    As to being caught up in the prayer of Christ, ALL prayer is made in Christ. As Romans 8.34 reminds us, Christ is ever interceding for us; and as the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews points out, Christ is our great High Priest. Our baptism unites our prayer with his. It is the aim of all monastic endeavour to be totally transformed in Christ. It is Christ who is the prayer of the psalms we sing according to Augustine, etc, etc.

  6. I know that during my spouses ongoing illness that Dame Catherine and the Community were and are praying for her healing and recovery, as were many other people. My spouse was really grateful and comforted that so many people that she doesn’t know took the time to pray and who continue to pray for her.

    I believe that the power of prayer along with medical intervention assisted in her being able to return home, where hopefully she may make a recovery in due time.

    Intercessory prayer is vital, whether those prayed for acknowledge the power of prayer or not. And God doesn’t discriminate, worthy or unworthy, he accepts prayers for them or from them.

    I pray that I might be able to pray readily for others as well as for my own worries.

  7. Thank you, D. Catherine. This is helpful.

    I see here too that I need to expand and deepen my understanding of ‘Christ’. Sometimes we think we ‘know’ something only to recognize at some point that we don’t, or at least not well enough.
    Wishing you a good weekend.

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