The Prayer of the Faithful

Q: Is there anything specific that the Prayers of the Faithful are supposed to be for?

A: The final part of the Liturgy of the Word is an opportunity for the people of God to exercise their priestly function by interceding for the needs of all humanity. These are called the General Intercessions, because they are to be just that, general, for the needs of all. They are also called the “Prayers of the Faithful” because in the early Church, those who were not yet fully initiated, that is the catechumens, were not allowed to take part in them since they had not yet been baptized priest, prophet and king. The catechumens actually left before the creed. They were not allowed to remain to hear or profess the mysteries of faith until they had completed their initiation.

Whose prayer are the General Intercessions? It is the prayer of the assembly. The celebrant issues an invitation to prayer, the lector reads the intentions, giving a pause for us to each make the intention our own. Then the lector invites us to pray and we respond, “Lord, hear our prayer.” On occasion a different phrase may be used, and sometimes it may be sung. But THIS RESPONSE OF OURS IS THE PRAYER. At the end, the celebrant does a closing prayer to the intercessions which sums it up and brings it to conclusion.

There is a format to the General Intercessions which is specified by the General Instruction to the Roman Missal. The general rule is that “the sequence of intentions is to be:

  1. for the Church, especially the universal Church;
  2. for the world and its needs, for public officials;
  3. for those in any kind of need, physical or psychological;
  4. for the community of the local parish.”

This last section includes special intentions that have to do with specific celebrations, such as a baptism or first communions. The is the spot for our prayers for those among us who are sick or who have died.

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