The Prayer of the Faithful

Below are some practical tips for those preparing the Universal Prayer better known as the Prayer of the Faithful. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal states that in this prayer ‘the people respond in some sense to the Word of God which they have received in faith and, exercising the office of their baptismal priesthood, offer prayers to God for the salvation of all.’ (GIRM 69)

 Start with the Word of God

  1. Choose a phrase or verse from the First Reading that in your prayerful reflection stands out for you
  2. Apply that short passage to one of the usual intentions (GIRM 70)
    1. The Church
    2. Public authorities and the salvation of all
    3. Those burdened by any difficulty
    4. The Local Community
  3. Compose an intercession based on that piece of scripture
  4. Do the same for the Psalm, Second Reading and Gospel
  5. Create a prayer for all who have died inspired by a phrase or verse in any of the scripture passages and mention those to be remembered in particular in that celebration
  6. Compose the brief introduction said by the celebrant ‘by which he calls upon the faithful to pray’ (GIRM 71)
  7. Compose the concluding prayer of the celebrant which is addressed to God
  8. Check that the intentions follow the principles that they are ‘sober, be composed with a wise liberty and in few words, and they should be expressive of the prayer of the entire community’ (GIRM 71)
  9. Can the intention be recited in one breath or sung comfortably by a cantor which helps to establish the rhythm of the prayer and the response of all
  10. Avoid Dear Santa style prayers and lengthy homiletic ones that are more like political statements by using the formula for …that…
  11. Go from the general to the specific within each intention so that all feel included

Why not invite a group to reflect on the scriptures and encourage them to write intercessions inspired by the Word but rooted in the needs of the community. Five of these can be chosen for the Eucharist and if there is more than one celebration apply those which suit the particular congregation. This scripture based method for the Universal Prayer can also inspire the homily that flows from the Word of God and leads to the integration of all the elements in the Liturgy of the Word.