The number of people I am praying for grows and grows. Someone is sick. Another is out of a job. Another is mourning a death of a loved one. This is a time of great suffering for many people, so every day there are more requests by e-mail or phone to pray for this or that person.
People have different strategies for keeping track of their prayer requests. I have one friend who keeps a bowl on her dining room table. Every time someone asks her to pray for someone, she writes the name on a slip of paper and places it in the bowl. Another friend, who lives in community, tacks the names of prayer requests on a board so that her sisters see them as they pass by and keep them in their prayers. Someone else keeps a list on the back page of her prayer journal, which has also sometimes been my practice.
Whatever I do, I find myself on some mornings knowing I’ve left someone or something out and so I add a catch-all prayer for anyone I’ve forgotten that I have promised to pray for. Yesterday I added another catch-all.
I was exchanging e-mails recently with one of my Jesuit friends. Like me, Greg is trained as a lawyer and so the concept of incorporation by reference is one that is familiar to us. After several e-mails in which we each asked the other to keep in their prayers certain friends or family members who are suffering, I came up with the idea of adding to my prayer intentions, “and prayers for everyone Greg is praying for.” When I shared the idea with Greg, he said he would do the same. I may still adopt the slip of paper in the bowl idea, but I also like the idea of including another’s prayer intentions into my own and knowing mine are included in his. Kind of like adding a little emphasis to each other’s prayers.