What is the Response to the Prayers of the Faithful?

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The Prayers of the Faithful, also called the Universal Prayer or the General Intercessions, are an integral part of the Mass. They follow the Liturgy of the Word and allow the people to exercise their baptismal priesthood by interceding for the needs of the Church, the world, the local community, and all those burdened by any difficulty.

A key component of the Prayers of the Faithful is the response from the congregation after each prayer intention is announced by the deacon, cantor or reader. This communal response is at the heart of this prayer – it is the true prayer of petition and act of intercession by the people.

What is the Response to the Prayers of the Faithful?

According to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, there are four main forms that this response can take:

  1. A short, repeated response formula said or sung by all, such as “Lord, hear our prayer,” “Lord, have mercy,” or “Christ, hear us.”
  2. A period of silent prayer together by the whole assembly after each intention is announced.
  3. A longer prayer response, either the same for each intention or varying, spoken or sung by all.
  4. A combination of both silent prayer and then a common short response like “Lord, hear our prayer.”

Before each response, the deacon, cantor or reader announces “Let us pray to the Lord.” This invites the congregation to actively participate through whichever response format is being used.

The Introduction to the Lectionary highlights that in making this response, “the assembly of the faithful prays in the General Intercessions…exercising the office of their baptismal priesthood.”

Using silent prayer or varying the responses prevents this universal prayer from becoming routine. As the people respond fervently with their “Amens,” their prayers are taken up into the “eternal intercession of Christ the Priest,” for whom intercession is a primary end of the Eucharistic sacrifice.

The form of response used can vary based on the liturgical occasion or preferences of the community. But whichever format is chosen, the people’s response to the Prayers of the Faithful should be a moment of active, engaged participation, lifting up sincere prayers to God for the needs of the Church and the world.

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