Universal Prayer

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: I wonder if you might help me with the interpretation of two directives that pertain to the Universal Prayer / Prayer of the Faithful. 

Paragraph 98 of the USCCB’s Introduction to the Order of Mass states:  “Both the priest’s introduction and the proposed intentions are addressed to the congregation, not to God.  They are invitations or biddings to the faithful, who then pray for the suggested intention in the silence of their hearts and in a common petition.” 

Yet the GIRM does not iterate “addressed to the congregation, not to God.” 

The Order of Baptism for Children Universal Prayer clearly and directly addresses God (ex. para. 310); Give this child new birth; Lead him through holiness of life….etc. 

The Order of Christian Funerals gives an option to use a form of General Intercessions that also directly address God (para. 401,  #3.) ; In baptism N. received the light of Christ.  Scatter the darkness now…. 

Granted, the sample universal prayers of the Missal all simply state the intention.  In your opinion would the following petitions be considered outside the intention of the GIRM with regards to format and syntax?  

  1. Grant to all who are made members of your Church by baptism, the grace of the Holy Spirit to live worthily of their calling.  
  1. Give peace to our fragile world…may holy wisdom guide all leaders in seeking peaceful resolutions to all conflict and that all hostilities may cease. 
  1. Be with those who are preparing for baptism…fill them with your grace…strengthen parents, godparents, and the entire baptizing community to be faithful witnesses of Christ.
  1. Increase the workers in your vineyard with vocations to the ordained priesthood and inspire our seminarians to conform themselves closer and closer to Christ who came to serve.

 As always I send you best regards and pray for your good.


A: The IOM, as you know, provides guidance, not directives.

The examples you give from the OBC and the OCF correctly illustrate how not all liturgical books are alike.
Nonetheless, my druthers are exactly the way that the IOM describes it: The petitioner addresses the people, and the people address God. That is what makes it the prayer “of the faithful.”

Some other denominations prefer bidding prayers that directly address God, so there is a variance of opinions on this.

 But if you look at the samples in the back of the missal, you’ll see that they follow what the IOM advises.