It's easy to fall into the habit of praying in too small a circle. We pray for our personal intentions, for our families and closest friends, our parish, but we sometimes forget to open the lens a bit and commit to intercessory prayer for those who may have no one praying for them at all. Here are a handful of suggestions to get you started!
1. Your enemy. Yes, I'm opening with a tough one! It's so essential to the faith to pray for those who have wronged us. It aids in the forgiveness and healing processes and it's commanded by God. If you have no enemy per se, then simply pray for someone who irritates or challenges you. Do not pray a self-serving prayer like "Lord, please help this person not be so annoying!" Instead, pray for the soul of that person, for health and joy to dwell in him or her, and for God to root out anything in YOU that may be provoking this "enemy" or preventing a better relationship between the two of you.
2. Your priest. And all priests! Friends, who on earth has a tougher job than our priests? In this fallen world, they are hated, second guessed, and often in straight up peril. Even a young, vital priest in a relatively good parish likely faces spiritual battles daily. Think of what he sees. Think of what he hears. His job takes him to hospital rooms, prisons, deathbeds, and into the confessional. Pray for the fortitude, peace, and salvation of all priests, especially your own.
3. The falling away and fallen away. At any given time, I'm watching at least two or three people gradually drift away from The Church. It's tragic. I know you must see the same, and I know you likely have family members who have fallen away and seem very unlikely to return to Christ. We cannot simply sit there and wring our hands; we are called to pray fervently for these people whose eternal lives are on the line. It is no small thing to walk away from the graces offered by The Church! What has pulled or is pulling this person away? Pray for the grave sway of sin to release these people pronto!
4. Police, firefighters, military personnel, and corrections officers. I don't think there is a population more taken for granted, more unappreciated, than those who dedicate their lives to protecting our lives. Materially underpaid, constantly under scrutiny, and certainly in physical danger every single day, our police officers, firefighters, soldiers, corrections officers, and any and all first responders have truly died to self in a manifest way. Pray for their life and limb. Pray for their souls, as they do risk their lives daily, and pray that they feel the gratitude of those they serve.
5. Your parents. If there is one thing that has come as a surprise to me as I've gotten older it's how many people do NOT have good and peaceful relations with their parents. I'm sure you know an example or are perhaps living in this situation yourself. We all know that we are commanded by God to honor our parents, but the dynamic between parents and their adult children can be so very complicated, and often honoring by tolerating is the sad result. So, whether you are fortunate enough to be on good terms with your parents or if your interactions are strained, please, pray for your parents. If you still have them with you, pray for their health, their souls, and that your communications with them can be fruitful. If you have lost your parents to death, pray for their souls.
6. The souls in Purgatory. Much could be and has been written on this topic. The bottom line is that it is our Christian duty to pray for the release of the souls in Purgatory, as we desire the Church on earth to pray for our souls after our death. When I think of all the souls who are completely neglected and unrepresented in Purgatory, I get the chills. What a sobering thought this is! And so easy to remedy! Pray for these souls today, for you may be among them tomorrow.
7. The addicted. The bulk of the prayer requests I receive from people are for help, rescue, and comfort in a personal crisis, the catalyst of which is most often some sort of an addiction. Whether the addiction is to alcohol, pornography, or drugs, this monster completely and brutally takes over the lives of those it visits. Addiction devastates and divides families. Addiction turns the addict into a stranger to his or her loved ones, a liar, a victimizer, and a source of stress for everyone he or she encounters. Much anger is directed at the addict, and this anger fuels feelings of hopelessness and isolation. These feelings lead to an increased reliance on the object of addiction. Please pray for these folks and their families. Pray that the cycle can be broken for them, that they seek and find the solid help they need, and that they return to a healthy and abundant life without reliance on what has enslaved them.