Q: In an article entitled “A bidding prayer or two this Sunday – A more heartfelt way of offering the “Prayers of the Faithful” at Mass By Chris McDonnell | United Kingdom, I read the following:
“In some parishes, it is those in the pews who are invited to seek the prayer of the community for a particular need. For many, such spontaneous prayer is a challenge and there is not the confidence to take up the offer. That is understandable. But with gentle encouragement, it can be achieved. So instead we resort to a written form, usually led by the lector for the Sunday, with an introduction from the celebrant. Ask, but also remember to give thanks.”
I do not consider it appropriate that prayers of thanks be part of the Universal prayer/Prayers of the Faithful. Is this correct? Furthermore, what is your viewpoint about spontaneous prayers from the congregation?
Thanks for your ongoing guidance in matters liturgical!
A: You are correct that the Prayer of the Faithful is not designed for giving thanks. That’s what the eucharistic prayer is for. In fact, the priest may list some reasons for giving thanks before he begins the preface dialogue, in order to help people focus on the meaning of the prayer.
Spontaneous prayers can work, but they often become repetitive—people making the same intention every day, or asking all to pray for an unspecified “special intention” that seems inappropriate to the context.
The best petitions are thoughtfully prepared in advance and delivered in an engaging, meaningful way.