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The power of intercessory prayer

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How often have you heard, "I’ll be praying for you," or how often have you said it to another?

Have you ever really felt the power of someone’s intercessory prayer for you?

During my four deployments while serving as a Fleet Marine Force Corpsman in the U.S. Navy, I experienced a lot of isolation. I was far from family and friends. I missed two Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays at home during that time. Iraq was the most isolated because we had no access to the internet; our only recourse was written mail. We did have a large satellite phone that some of the guys used to make calls to the U.S., but I had no idea how to call the U.K., where my family was.

Yes, I was sad and it was lonely at times, but during those many arduous months I was strengthened by the prayers of my family. Just knowing they were praying for me had a tangible effect on my well-being. Despite facing many dangers, I never felt anxious or fearful; I felt their prayers, and knew God was protecting me.

Because of this experience, news about the elderly being so isolated during the pandemic really hit home with me, and I felt compelled to pray for them in a special way. This became even more real when my seminarian pastoral assignment of visiting nursing home residents was canceled because the homes were closed to visitors.

Though I could not get to the nursing homes physically, God truly placed their residents’ plight of isolation and suffering on my heart and showed me how effective prayer can be at helping us connect with each other. I look forward to the day when I can visit these homes and meet the souls for whom I have been praying this past year.

Prayer is important for many reasons, not least because it permits us to share our suffering with God and to petition him for help and comfort amid whatever troubles we are experiencing. Separated from those we love by distance, prayer enables us to stay close to them and to empathize with their pain.

As things begin to open up a little more, let us not forget these lessons of the past year and how much good we can do for our fellow human beings, especially those who are suffering in isolation, by lifting them up in prayer.

Wilton, who is from St. John the Beloved Church in McLean, just finished his second year of theology at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021