Prayer intention(ally)

As I write this, I am in the midst of preparing for our biggest retreat of the year. Our Freshman Retreat is one of the highlights of most Stang students’ high school careers. Our entire freshman class is at school for a Saturday and it is run by almost 70 seniors, 30 juniors and 25 faculty and staff. We begin preparing for this retreat in June of the previous school year. 

Part of being a team member for the retreat is to give some sort of sacrifice in preparation for the retreat from the time we meet in June until the retreat in November. This year I decided to sacrifice all radio except for Christian music. As you can tell from my other columns, I am an avid sports fan and I listen to sports talk radio almost every day. Sacrificing this during playoff baseball season and the start of football season has been a great task. It has become a sacrifice however, that has brought me great peace.

I was listening to KLove the other day and they played one of those brief inspirational clips. The man said a minister once asked the congregation: “if God answered all your prayers with a yes, would anyone besides yourself benefit from it?” This really struck a chord with me and how sometimes my prayers can be very self-centered. Do not get me wrong, it is not a bad idea to bring your own needs before God, but we too must pray for others as well.

I began thinking about the intentions I pray for and that made me think of the word intention. According to the always-faithful dictionary.com, an intention, by definition, is an aim or a plan. When we pray an intention, we are called to bring to prayer a plan or a goal that we are asking God to help. We are called to intentionally pray our intentions. 

I am a scattered pray-er. Most times I get lost in my own thoughts or in shiny objects and I wonder in my prayer.  A few years ago, I began praying in color to keep myself focused (if you do not know what praying in color is, definitely look it up! It is a great tool for the unfocused pray-er). However, if I am more intentional about my intentions, more focused on others, then I bring my plan or goal to God. 

And God tells us we need to pray for others. In the Book of James we read, “Pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (Jas 5:16). We are reminded that our prayers, when intentional and heartfelt, not only improve the life of those we pray for, but also help us as well. And it does not have to just be for those we are closest to. Jesus asks of us to pray for all people including, “Pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:44). It can be so healing for us to pray for those who have betrayed or hurt us. When we view another person as someone who needs prayer, we can start to lessen the grip that anger has on us. 

Christ shows us what it means to put others first in our prayers as well as making sure we come to God with our own needs. In the Gospel of John, as Jesus is getting ready to face His trial, we read that He brings everything to prayer. He did not just pray for His situation, however. He prays for all of us as He is ready to face torture and death. We read in the Gospel, “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me” (Jn 17:20-21).

As we approach this Advent season, let us be more intentional about our prayers. Let our prayers be a source of strength for others as well as for ourselves. They remind the listeners on KLove often that we should never think of prayer as the least we can do for someone but rather as the most we can do for someone. I pray that you all have a very blessed Thanksgiving and that the season of Advent be one filled with peace, hope, joy and love!

Anchor columnist Amanda Tarantelli has been a campus minister at Bishop Stang High School in North Dartmouth since 2005. She is married, a die-hard sports fan, and resides in Cranston, R.I. She can be reached at atarantelli@bishopstang.org.


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