Using viral videos, a digital app, the web and social media platforms, the Apostleship of Prayer has come a long way since it began in 1844.
But its mission is still clear: to help Christians live out their desire to serve God with their whole lives and their whole selves. It does this by asking the world to pray for the pope’s personal intentions.
This worldwide prayer network has a direct connection with the Holy Father. The Apostleship, which takes its name from the apostles who were sent out to spread the Gospel, receives a list of prayer intentions from the pope. There are two each month — a general intention and one typically focused on an area of the world.
Until now, the pope’s prayer intentions have been prepared nearly two years in advance. Since they are intended for everyone in the world to pray, the intentions must be translated into all major languages. Because of the time it takes to prepare them and send them out, concerns were raised that the intentions were not current enough. Therefore, the Apostleship of Prayer made a change for 2017.
There will continue to be two prayer intentions each month. A list of one intention for each month has already been established for the year and a second will be announced on the first Sunday of the month when the pope prays the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square or wherever he might be traveling.
“He gave us his January urgent intention on Sunday, Jan. 8, asking us to pray for people who live on the streets and are hit by the cold weather,” explained Jesuit Father James Kubicki, national director for the Apostleship of Prayer. “What makes this an improvement is that, given the speed of modern communication, this urgent prayer intention puts us in touch with something that is on the pope’s mind and in his heart right now.”
The Apostleship of Prayer also launched an app in 2016 for digital users called, “Click to Pray.” The motto of the app is “Together, we make each day different.”
“The Click to Pray app is another modern media means by which people can connect with the pope and remember to make their whole day an offering,” Father Kubicki said.
According to Father Kubicki, the app offers three “moments” of the day to help people keep the intentions in front of them throughout their whole day. The first “moment” is a morning offering prayer, different each day and often inspired by the saint of the day.
The second “moment” is a short quote that appears in the middle of the day as a reminder to live the offering that has been made. It usually consists of a quote from the Holy Father.
The third “moment” is a review question at the end of the day intended to help people reflect on the day that was just offered to God. These “moments” can be programmed into the app to appear at desired times.
“All of this helps people be more attentive to God’s presence in their daily lives and to make their whole day a prayer. The app has a prayer wall on which people can write their own prayers or ask for prayers from the many members of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network around the world,” he said.
Each month, a short dramatic video message is also released in Spanish with English subtitles.
“Because we live in an increasingly visual and media-driven world, it is another way that we can get the word out that the pope has specific intentions that he wants us to join him addressing with our prayers,” he said.
Father Kubicki estimates there are about 40 to 50 million members worldwide, and growing because of the new approaches like the Pope Video and social media.
About three years ago, Carol Schmidt, a member of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Little Falls for more than 40 years, heard about the prayer network and signed up to be part of it.
“I like the idea of praying for the pope’s intentions,” she said. “With so many problems in the world, it is good to have the pope share those prayers with us. He knows a lot about what is happening in the world, more than I do, so I appreciate this opportunity to pray.”
The network sends her a list of the pope’s prayer intentions, along with other materials to help her pray. Schmidt includes these special intentions with her own prayers as part of her daily routine.
“It’s more than simply ‘saying’ a prayer,” Father Kubicki said. “It is a way to make your inconveniences, your frustrations, your problems, your challenges, your hardships, in short, your sufferings, into a very powerful prayer that imitates and is joined to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.”
To learn more, visit www.apostleshipofprayer.org or find them on Facebook, Twitter, or in your app store on your smartphone or device at “Click to Pray.”