Universal Prayer

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: I hope that all is well with you and with those to whom you minister.

I thought you might be able to shed light on something that has been puzzling me for some time. I have been preparing the Universal Prayer/Prayer of the Faithful petitions for my parish in Australia for the last few years. One source I always check in the hope of getting some inspiration is the Sunday Website at Saint Louis University which offers suggested intercessions for each Sunday. I find them rather strange because, rather than praying for the needs of the Church, public authorities & salvation of the world, those burdened by difficulty and the local community as specified in the GIRM, they frequently pray for a ‘spirit/attitude/understanding’ of something for those doing the praying. The word ‘we’ appears far too often in my opinion. Here are 6 of the intercessions offered for last Sunday to illustrate what I mean:

For the Church: that we may become people of truth through listening to God’s Word, sharing in the Eucharist, and giving witness to it in our decisions and actions

For the grace of detachment: that we may humbly surrender our plans and goals to God and follow wherever God leads us

For transformation of our attitudes: that we may follow Christ in using our power and abilities to wash the feet of others, speak up for those who are oppressed, and help carry the burdens of those who are suffering

For all believers: that we may come to a deep realization that Christ holds our past, walks with us each day, and has a vision for tomorrow filled with compassion and hope

For a new understanding of authority: that we may recognize God as the source of all authority and use our authority in cooperation with God’s loving plan for humanity

For a spirit of gratitude: that we may recognize all our skills, opportunities, and freedoms as gifts from God and place them at the service of God and one another

Is this usual for the Universal Prayer/Prayer of the Faithful petitions in your part of the world? Am I the one who has the wrong understanding of the nature and purpose of these prayers?

Best wishes,


A: In short, no, this is not usual for the Universal Prayer in the US—or even in Missouri, a state I share with the venerable St. Louis University. 

And no, you are not wrong about the nature and purpose of these prayers.

We all need prayers, but not to the exclusion of others.