Catholics around the world spend much of their day reciting prayers; whether it is a daily rosary, a daily meal prayer or a quick prayer to St. Anthony while searching for car keys.  The call to prayer runs deep in the Catholic Church, but one thing that is often overlooked is the importance of joint prayer.  Prayers often consist of deeply personal requests, and it can be difficult to offer these up on their own, much less request anyone else to pray for you.  However with a healthy dose of humility, it can and should be done.  It is so important to call on the beauty of the community that is the living Church.

A great example of joint prayer is the story of Sarah in the book of Tobit.  Sarah had more than her full of disappointments – she had been married seven times and after every wedding, her husband died on the wedding night.  It’s fair to say that when she approached God with her petitions, she was confused, embarrassed, hurt and most definitely desperate.  She was set to marry Tobias and, dreading the loss of another husband, she pleaded with the Lord to let her die rather than face yet another wedding.  At the same time, Tobit, Tobias’ father was praying to the Lord for a successful union between Sarah and Tobias.  Both of their prayers reached to the heavens and the Lord blessed the union of Sarah and Tobias and they lived happily ever after, never ceasing in their praise to the Lord.

There is no doubt that the Lord hears our prayers, even when uttered on our own.  But we are called to help others on their journey to holiness, and we are called to ask others for their help.  This is just one example of two people joining their prayer… and they didn’t even know the other one was praying for the same thing!  Imagine how much more vibrant, passionate and powerful our prayer can be when united with others. 

In a culture in which we prize strength and not intruding on others, it is a challenge to utter the words “will you pray for me?”.  It takes practice and it sure takes a lot of humility, but the relief you feel when the cross is no longer on just your shoulders is immense.  The Lord will never give more that we can bear, but he doesn’t expect us to bear it all on our own. He looks for our prayers to Him for His help and He calls on us to swallow our pride and ask others for their spiritual support as well.  When you are asked to pray for a friend, acquaintance or stranger, make sure to do so.  Not only will it provide them comfort, you will enter even deeper into the community of the Holy Catholic Church.