Today I hope to give you something actually useful.
Here’s the problem: People often ask me to pray for them. It’s a good idea, I should do that. I bet people ask you the same. There are many other people you know you should pray for. How do you keep all of these people in your intentions? There is only so much of the day you can pray rosaries.
You need to be intentional for the actual person too, because they have real needs, and while they may have an issue, like faith, health or finances, those needs may change while your need to pray for them doesn’t. It can be so easy to just forget to pray for them, to say you will, and then let it fall out of your memory. All you are left with is a vague idea that you should have prayed for an ambiguous “somebody.” That won’t do!
For me, this is a super big problem, because as a teacher, I know that if I don’t pray for my students, it is entirely possible that no one ever will. Think of that for a moment, how terrifying it is that there are people in this world whose names are never called out to the Lord in prayer. We cannot let this happen, especially for those whom we are called to serve in ministry, family life, friendships and in our community life. Every human person is simply too precious to be forgotten, and it is on us to make sure they aren’t.
I have the solution, and it works great for me. I have my book of names.
Here’s what I did: I bought one of those cheap journals you can get at a dollar store, and I wrote down every single person that I knew I should pray for. I divided the book into sections, one for family, one for religious, one for friendships, one for parishioners, one for acquaintances, one for religious education classes, and one for the school I work for. I made sure to leave plenty of space after each section to add names as they come up.
Then, I just started filling it in. Family is easy, I pray for them all. Religious is easy, I pray for the pope, my bishops, all my former priests and any clerics I know, as well as all the religious and lay leaders I know. For friendships, I went through all of my memories, and added everyone who had some impact on my life. I add parishioners and acquaintances as I meet them, and add the list of students for every religious class I offer. The school I add by class.
Then, every morning as part of my morning prayers, I pray for them all by name by reading through the book out loud. If I am aware of an intention for them, I just add it verbally as I go along. My school list is a bit long, so I pray for one class a day, and one alumni class a day on rotation. That way I never miss anyone. Even if someone leaves my life, dies, or leaves the school, I still have them on my list, and can pray for them.
If I am out and about and someone ask for my prayers, I add it to my todo list on my phone, to be added later when I get the chance. This way, I hope, very few people fall through the cracks.
In the evening, I just ask God to look after everyone in my book, and anyone I might have missed. I know that God knows who they are, so I figure I’m good.
It’s a simple enough thing to do, and this way I make sure to never forget anyone.