Praying in troubled times (4) 'Please!'

© photo by Louise Adey Huish
Published by Louise Adey Huish on Thu, 26 Mar 2020 00:00
Louise's blog

It’s only too easy to find that our prayer life degenerates into an endless shopping list held up to God. Praying for other people – what we call ‘intercessory prayer’—is an important part of what we do, not least because it counterbalances our own desires with a sense of what’s needed by other people, and by the world as a whole.  

When my prayer life gets clogged up by intercession, I sometimes resort to a prayer written by a Jewish rabbi, who said: ‘The needs of the world are written on my heart. When I come to pray, Lord, open the book of my heart and read what is written there’. Another possibility, especially in this time when there seem to be so many things and people to pray for, is to write them down on a piece of paper and simply place them before God.

There is a helpful way of praying using your hand as a guide and reminder. Using each finger in turn, and starting with the thumb, you pray as follows:

Thumb: Your thumb is closest to you. Pray for those people closest to you in your life.

Index finger: This is the one you use to point with. Pray for those who point others to God (parents, friends, ministers, teachers…)

Middle finger: This is your largest finger. Pray for people in authority, politicians, world leaders, people who have power over others.

Fourth finger or ring finger: This is the weakest finger. Pray for those who are suffering, the sick, the poor, the lonely, the homeless.

Little finger: Pray for yourself. Talk to God about your needs and thank God for his goodness.

(Adapted from Hand Prayer by Sr Rita Elizabeth)


Another way of praying for particular people is to make a prayer bracelet, using beads or buttons. Each bead or button represents a particular person or group of people, and you can have fun choosing colours or shapes which remind you of each one. You hold the prayer bracelet in one hand (or wear it on your wrist) and work through the beads or buttons with the thumb and first finger of your other hand. This is particularly helpful if you’re struggling with memory problems and find that people’s names slip away from you easily. 

Finally, here are a few ideas of people you might want to pray for at the present time:

Those who are in the front line of the fight against coronavirus: doctors, nurses and hospital staff; people working in the food industry; delivery drivers; post office workers; care home staff; those working to keep radio and television broadcasts going; the emergency services.

Those whose livelihoods are threatened - by the closure of pubs, cafes and restaurants; shops of all kinds; people working in theatres, cinemas and entertainment; actors and musicians; sportspeople; museums, galleries and places of interest.

Those who are anxious about losing their jobs or the place where they live.

Everyone trying to help by volunteering in any capacity.

Anyone who has had to cancel a special event or holiday, especially a wedding, anniversary or significant birthday.

Anyone separated from a loved one, especially across continents or national borders; people who are unable to visit parents or spouses because they are in nursing homes.

Those with secondary health concerns or co-morbidities; people suffering from extreme anxiety.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.


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