What is the extant of your prayers?  Do you pray for your personal needs, immediate family, close friends, and local community? What about the needs of others, complete strangers, enemies, and people in cities on the other side of the world? Do you pray for just the living, or do you also pray also for the dead—the souls in purgatory?

Prayer changes things. “pray without ceasing” doesn’t mean that we need to spend all day, every day, in a church praying the Rosary, and saying Our Fathers and Hail Marys. It means incorporating prayer into our everyday lives, such as conversations with God, Jesus, Mary, and the saints.

How can you and I, the busy people that we are, adopt a pray-without-ceasing lifestyle? It’s much easier than you think. One practical way is to offer up our daily tasks for others—both living and deceased—turning our mundane ordinary lives into a beautiful offering to God. Another way to adopt a pray-without-ceasing lifestyle is to treat every encounter with someone—at the grocery store, at work, or in your own home—as an opportunity to pray for that person.

Sitting in traffic on your way to work doesn’t seem as frustrating when you offer up your irritation for a loved one fighting cancer or battling an addiction.  When you hear a police car, ambulance, or fire truck siren, pray for anyone involved; When you pass a funeral home with a parking lot full of cars, pray for the soul of the deceased person, as well as that person’s family and friends;

When you do laundry, prepare a meal, take a shower, or go to bed at night, ask God to comfort those who don’t have clothes to wash, food to eat, running water to use, or a bed to sleep in; When you are impatient, frustrated, or going through a struggle in your life, pray for the poor souls in purgatory who are patiently, painfully awaiting their entrance into heaven.

There is nothing like prayer to get the Father’s attention.  Prayer changes things! Imagine meeting a family member, friend, or stranger in heaven and finding out it was your prayers for them on earth that helped them get through a rough time on earth or helped purify them in Purgatory for the final leg of their journey to heaven..

Praying for the dead is as ancient as the Jewish people and can be found in the Book of Maccabees in the Old Testament. “[Judas Maccabeus] turned to prayer beseeching that the sin which had been committed might be wholly blotted out… He also took up a collection… and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably… Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin” (II Maccabees 12:39-46).

Each Eucharistic prayer at Mass has an invocation for the dead. It is customary to offer the last intercession of the prayers of the faithful for those who have passed away.. Prayer is a bond that unites the Communion of Saints of the living (Church Militant,) with the Communion of Saints of the faithful departed, (Church Suffering.) and the Church Triumphant who are already in heaven.

While it is appropriate to ask God for what we desire in life, it should not become the center of our prayer life.  We must cultivate praying for others. This will help us acquire the virtue of charity and combat the sins of pride and greed.  I believe those we pray for come back to us a hundred fold because that is the kind of God we have!.Never outdone in generosity!


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