God is always attentive to the humble supplication of a pure and sincere heart. Jesus commanded us to pray with these words: “Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you…” (Mt. 7:7) Therefore, obeying the command of the Lord Himself we should ask, seek, and knock trusting that we will be heard and our prayers granted.
Prayer is an open communication with God; prayer is a conversation with Someone who we know listens to us and loves us most ardently; prayer is communication and dialogue with a Friend; prayer is the pious lifting up of the mind and the heart to God. What air is to the lungs, so prayer is to the soul; it is essential! The great Saint Augustine expresses prayer using this poetic and rhythmic expression: “He who prays well, lives well; he who lives well, dies well; he who dies well, all is well.” In other words, the salvation of our immortal soul depends upon a fervent and dynamic prayer life.
Still, there is the burning question: who then should we pray for? Is there a certain hierarchy or a list in priority as to whom we should pray for first? The response: we can and should pray for everybody in the entire world. This for the simple reason that God created all people on the face of the earth to know Him, love Him, and serve Him in this life, so as to be happy with Him in Heaven. All were created for eternal Beatitude—meaning happiness—in heaven.
A group of persons very dear to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as well as the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, would be sinners, especially those sinners whose souls are in most danger of being lost for all eternity.
Our Lady of Fatima, as well as Our Lady of Lourdes, both insisted on prayer, but most especially praying for the conversion of poor sinners. After each decade of the Rosary Our Lady of Fatima insisted that we pray: “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins; save us from the fires of hell and lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of your mercy.”
Therefore, so as to enrich your prayer of intercession we will propose a list of certain sinners that we should have most close to our heart as we pray. We might use Saint Monica as a model for prayer of intercession for the conversion of sinners. Due to her prayers, her mother-in-law, her husband Patricius, and finally her wayward son, Saint Augustine—all of them were converted, and of course one became a great saint!
CATEGORY OF SINNERS THAT WE SHOULD PRAY FOR WITH FERVOR AND CONSTANCY
1. THE BLIND AND DEAF. We should lift up our prayers on high for that group of persons—and there are many, very many today—who actually deny that they have any sin whatsoever. Pope Pius XII asserted: “The sin of the century is the loss of the sense of sin.” Jesus came to save sinners. If we deny that we are sinners, then how can Jesus the Savior actually save us. Never forget: Jesus came to save SINNERS!
2. SLAVES TO ADDICTIONS. On our list of priorities, we should definitely implore the Lord’s abundant mercy for those who are slaves to addictions, those who seem unable to break the chains of sin that are enslaving them. Addictions today are many: drugs, drink, sex, porn, gambling, buying, stealing, and many more. May Jesus attain for them the true freedom of the sons and daughters of God by helping them to smash the chains of these addictions!
3. DESPAIRING SOULS. Another very critical category of souls to pray for is those who are despairing, those who have lost all hope. These are those souls who believe that their sins are so serious and many that they go beyond the pale of God’s mercy. Actually, the worst of all sins, as expressed in the Diary of Mercy In My Soul by Saint Faustina Kowalska, is the failure to trust in the infinite mercy that flows from the loving Heart of Jesus, pierced by the lance on that first Good Friday.
4. ANGER AND HATRED. Another very important group of souls who make up part of our prayer of intercession are those souls who have been so beaten, wounded, pummeled and lacerated in life by others that they are filled with gaping wounds of anger and hatred that are so deep, foul, and festering that they do not even want to turn to the Divine Physician to be healed and saved. Of course we know that one of the primary missions of the Lord Jesus was to heal wounded humanity. The blind, the deaf, the mute, the lepers, and the paralytics were drawn to Jesus like a magnet and because of their faith they were healed.
Let us pray for those who are deeply wounded by anger and hatred, that they will turn to Jesus and be healed and renewed. Of course the best model to follow for those who have been literally blinded by anger and hatred because of those who have wounded them, is Jesus Himself as He hung on the cross. Basically the Body of Jesus was a gaping wound from head to foot. Yet Jesus taught us the power of love, mercy, and forgiveness with these words: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” Let us turn to Jesus! Either we are wounded wounders or we are wounded healers! May those embittered by past wounds turn to Jesus for healing so that they can one day become wounded healers in a broken and wounded world.
5. DEATHBED SINNERS. Of primary importance we should lift our fervent and zealous prayers for this very important category: sinners who are about to die; we call them deathbed sinners! These are individuals who are dying in the state of mortal sin, thereby separating themselves from God. Now, if they die in this state of unrepentant mortal sin they will lose their soul for all eternity—the worse fate that could befall any person! What can we do? Jesus promised in the Diary of Saint Faustina that when we pray the CHAPLET OF DIVINE MERCY for those who are dying, then these souls in some mysterious way will be saved for all eternity. Therefore, if you are ever present at the deathbed of any person, and this could be a fallen away Catholic, Christian, Moslem, Buddhist or Hindu, agnostic or even atheist, then for the love of God and for the eternal salvation of this soul pray the CHAPLET OF DIVINE MERCY. If done, Jesus promised in the Diary of Divine Mercy that this person’s soul will be saved.
In conclusion, let us pray, and pray often and fervently. However, let us make it a point to pray in a very special way for sinners. Our Lady of Fatima stated that many souls are lost because there is nobody to pray for them. Let us pray through the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the salvation of countless sinners. May they turn to the merciful Heart of Jesus and be saved for all eternity!
Father Ed Broom, OMV, is Associate Pastor of St. Peter Chanel Church in Hawaiian Gardens, California. He is a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary and was ordained by Saint John Paul II on May 25, 1986. Fr. Ed teaches Catholic Ignatian Marian Spirituality through articles, podcasts, a radio show, retreats and spiritual direction.