Do we need to have a specific intention when we pray?

Is it necessary to have a specific intention when one prays? I have specific intentions when I say the rosary, but often I say the Our Father or several Hail Marys while waiting for the bus, or while walking to or from the bus stop without specifying for whom or what the prayers are being offered. Is it presumed that I may be praying for my own intentions?

Dear Lang,

We often forget that prayers of petition are only one kind of prayer. There are prayers of thanksgiving and prayers of praise and adoration and contrition.

The “Our Father” or “Lord’s Prayer” begins with praise (Hallowed be Thy name) and only after this does it ask for something (Give us this day our daily bread.).

Just telling the Lord that we love Him is a great way of praying. We can do it directly with “Lord I love you.” or by means of memorized prayers. We don’t have to have any other intention that to simply love Him, though we may.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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