I often receive requests to pray for others – illness, relationships, financial difficulty, tight situations, job interviews…many different things. I’m always happy to oblige, even if I only manage to utter a brief spontaneous prayer or a Hail Mary on the fly. Sometimes I can fit in a whole Rosary. Always, however, I place these intentions on the altar when I go to Mass. This is what it means to be Christian, to belong to the Communion of Saints. We are all part of one Body, and so what affects others affects me and what affects me affects others.
I do wonder, though, how many of the people who ask me to pray for them actually pray for themselves. It sometimes seems that asking someone else to pray for an intention in a small way passes the buck, so to speak, and cushions us from the blow in the case our own prayers don’t get answered. Could it be a good luck charm, of sorts?
I catch myself doing this once in a while. I ask someone else to pray for one of my intentions just to get it off my shoulders. Somehow it’s easier to let somebody else take up the prayer baton. There’s inherently nothing wrong in that – we all need a shoulder to lean on here and there. But if it’s a getting rid of, rather than a sharing of the burden, we’ve got a problem.
Perhaps that’s what our Lord is trying to drive home in today’s gospel from St. Matthew. He’s reminding us that if we, in our sinfulness, are willing to give to others, how much more will our heavenly Father, who is all-good, all-merciful and all-mighty give to us? If only we ask…