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Prayer: a Sisters of Providence ministry dear to the heart

Sister Kay Manley lights candles in the Shrine of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin and prays for the intentions
of people who have requested the sisters’ prayers online via LightaCandle.SistersofProvidence.org

What does it mean to ask for prayer for someone? What does it mean to ask for prayer for oneself? I asked some Sisters of Providence and some friends of the Sisters of Providence those questions. After all they are both pray-ers and requestors.

The responses flowed in. They conveyed an eagerness to share ideas about prayer, about deeply rooted faith in the goodness of God and about belief in the power of prayer.

Each described how she prayed for another and what prompts her to ask prayer for herself. Nothing but their own words can convey how seriously they take or make a request for prayer.

When I promise to pray for someone …

“I mean I’ll support them. I form a bond with them. I ask for the individual an open and peaceful heart that allows for healing, hope and acceptance of whatever the outcomes may be.”

“I commit to holding that person in my heart and firmly and confidently believing that God knows what’s in my heart. I do believe prayer comes in all sorts of ways throughout a day — even when we don’t think we’re praying.”

“I make an effort to sincerely remember, as often as possible, to say a quick prayer either for that particular person or for all the intentions in my heart. If I’m home I light my Mother Theodore candle to remind me.”

“I’ll give my heart to Jesus in your sadness and happiness. I want God to be with us.”

“When I’m doing something ‘mindless,’ I try to think of people I know who need comfort and understanding — picture him or her in my mind and reach out in love and peace. I make a mental note to think, remember and care.”

“I’ll pause and silently pray for someone. For a really serious request I may say a Rosary or pray a novena, especially one to Mother Theodore.”

“I visualize many people as I ask God to help me or the person I am praying for. I feel the power of prayer and the power of God when I walk outside or light a candle in my room. Sometimes prayers are “on the run.” The main thing is to be aware of God’s presence in our lives and the impact we can have on each other.”

“I will remember that they asked for prayer and I will think of them in that moment and in future moments. I do notice that I get nudges about prayer intentions long after the prayer is requested. I just figure that’s an update from God that I am to remember I promised to pray.”

“When I pray for someone else or something else, what I hear immediately in my heart of hearts is ‘YOU do it.’ That is, if I ask The Mystery to comfort someone, I’m impelled to send a card, write a letter, make a visit. I think that is what prayer of petition is — recognizing there is work for us to do.”

When I ask for prayer for myself …

“I believe in the power of prayer and know God is listening to us all the time. We may not see our prayers answered the way we want, but we believe in God’s love for us and continue to pray.”

“I am careful about asking for prayer for myself. I know that prayer is powerful and the answer to prayer is not always the answer I seek. When I do ask for prayer, I believe I am asking for companionship, strength and support in whatever I am experiencing that requires prayer.”

“When/if I ask I believe that the communion of people praying reinforces the love of God that lives in each of us and gives us strength. I guess if I’m asking, it’s bad enough that I know I need help.”

The Sisters are my go to pray-ers! I am a firm believer in the power of prayer, so I’ll ask anyone who cares enough to pray for someone. Storm the heavens!”

“I feel that enlisting prayers, especially by the Sisters, is very powerful. Mother Theodore has interceded for us over the years and our faith as a family has been greatly strengthened.”

How would you respond to the questions asked? What does it mean for you when you tell another person I’ll pray for you? What does it mean when I ask another to pray for me? Find a friend (or more than one) and have this conversation. Hopefully the conversation will lead to new insights about prayer and confirm beliefs long held. In the meantime and always, let us hold one another in prayer.

Originally published in the winter 2022 issue of HOPE magazine.

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Sister Denise Wilkinson

Sister Denise was the general superior of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods from 2006-2016. She previously served as a high school teacher, college administrator, postulant/novice director and director of advancement and communications for the Congregation. Currently, Sister Denise serves the Congregation in various volunteer positions.

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