Saturday, May 12, 2012

Prayers of Intercession BY Those Who Suffer

We often speak of the need to pray for those who are sick or who suffer from some other hardship or those who are dying or have died. Indeed, such intercessory prayer by us is a spiritual work of mercy. But how often do we think of prayers of intercession by those who suffer, rather than only prayers for them? How often do we think of asking those who are suffering to pray for us? A few months after he was elected as Pope, in speaking about our need to be with those who are sick and suffering, John Paul II noted how these persons are near to God, and that prayers by them are invaluable.

Remarks of Blessed Pope John Paul II
Angelus, Feb. 11, 1979
I count a great deal on the prayer of the sick, on the intercession with God of those who are suffering. They are so near Christ! And I approach them, aware that Christ is present in them.

The suffering of one's neighbor, the suffering of another man, the same as oneself in everything, always causes a certain uneasiness, almost a sense of embarrassment, in those who are not suffering. A question arises instinctively: why he, and not I? One cannot avoid this question which is the elementary expression of human solidarity. I think it was this fundamental solidarity that created medicine and the whole health service in its historical evolution up to our own days.

We must stop, then, in front of suffering, in front of suffering man, to rediscover this essential link between one's human "self" and his. We must stop before suffering man, to testify to him and, as far as possible, together with him, all the dignity of suffering, I would say all the majesty of suffering. We must bow our heads before brothers or sisters who are weak and helpless, deprived just of what has been granted to us to enjoy every day.

These are just some aspects of that great ordeal which costs man so much, but which purifies him at the same time, as it purifies the one who seeks solidarity with the other, with the suffering human “self.”


Prairie Lover said...

I do believe that it has never occurred to me, not even once, to ask a suffering person to pray for me...perhaps I have always viewed intercessory prayer, subconsciously, of course, as a burden not to be added to the already-burdened suffering.

But what do I consider "suffering" to be? Typically, I offer prayers when someone is in distress, acute or chronic, physical or mental.

This is not to say that I don't pray for people who aren't "suffering;" I just don't necessarily tell them that I have done so, as I would with someone in distress.

Do I feel burdened when someone asks me to pray for them? No. But then again, I don't have much distress, although I surely do suffer. A Lot. Amen.

Bender said...

I know -- in trying to find personal remarks about his own experiences with suffering, this part about him "relying on the prayers of those who suffer" really jumped out at me. But it does make a lot of sense. Shortly after he died, I urged people to ask him (in heaven) to pray for us since he was so obviously close to God, and God would surely listen to him.

Perhaps in asking the sick to pray for us (in addition to vice versa), we actually are lifting a burden from them? From a practical standpoint, people like to be useful, and in asking them to do something for us, something like praying, they can be useful and, in their minds, less of a lie-around, do-nothing, burden on everyone else.

Prairie Lover said...

Indeed. And I just might ask someone suffering to pray for me never knows about these things.