What is the format/rules for the Prayers of the Faithful?


What is the “proper” format for the Prayer of the Faithful? I thought 1st is the Church, and then the Pope – but those two may be combined into one. Is that correct or nor? Must the Pope’s name be mentioned? 2nd petition is for the local “Church” with the Bishop. Now within this one, may the success of something the Bishop is doing throughout his diocese be included? Third petition could be for something happening in the world, earthquake, etc. The second to last petition for the Parish, and the last petition for those at that Mass. I try to keep the petitions to at most seven (but I think there may be up to 12).

Where could I find out the “rules” for proper Liturgy? I simply want to do things correctly. I have been doing this for four years now. However, a new parishioner (not a Priest) is not pleased with my work and voiced it in front of five others.

Thank you for your help.


The General Instruction of the Roman Missal prescribes the Mass. The celebrating priest, not any layperson, is in charge of the details.


The Universal Prayer

  1. In the Universal Prayer or Prayer of the Faithful, the people respond in some sense to the Word of God which they have received in faith and, exercising the office of their baptismal Priesthood, offer prayers to God for the salvation of all. It is desirable that there usually be such a form of prayer in Masses celebrated with the people, so that petitions may be offered for holy Church, for those who govern with authority over us, for those weighed down by various needs, for all humanity, and for the salvation of the whole world.[66]

  2. The series of intentions is usually to be:

a) for the needs of the Church;

b) for public authorities and the salvation of the whole world;

c) for those burdened by any kind of difficulty;

d) for the local community.

Nevertheless, in any particular celebration, such as a Confirmation, a Marriage, or at a Funeral, the series of intentions may be concerned more closely with the particular occasion.

  1. It is for the Priest Celebrant to regulate this prayer from the chair. He himself begins it with a brief introduction, by which he calls upon the faithful to pray, and likewise he concludes it with an oration. The intentions announced should be sober, be composed with a wise liberty and in few words, and they should be expressive of the prayer of the entire community.

They are announced from the ambo or from another suitable place, by the Deacon or by a cantor, a reader, or one of the lay faithful.[67]

The people, for their part, stand and give expression to their prayer either by an invocation said in common after each intention or by praying in silence.


[quote="Luz_Maria, post:1, topic:342091"]
... a new parishioner (not a Priest) is not pleased with my work and voiced it in front of five others.


I pray for love, wisdom, and peace in your parish community.


[quote="Luz_Maria, post:1, topic:342091"]

I simply want to do things correctly. I have been doing this for four years now. However, a new parishioner (not a Priest) is not pleased with my work and voiced it in front of five others.

Thank you for your help.


If your pastor is pleased with your work, then that's all that matters. I would think he would have let you know if he thought you were doing it wrong. But you can just ask him -- say you want to be sure, because a parishioner thinks otherwise.
If he says you're fine, then you're fine. If the new parishioner brings it up again, tell him/her you're doing it the way your priest wants. This person may just be used to something a little different, and assume that the way their old parish did it was correct. That doesn't mean it was. ;)


I wrote the petitions for years in my last parish of employment and I got complaints. Everyone has something that they think is most important to pray for and want it prayed for each and every week. If I did that the petitions would go on for 10 minutes. They were called General Intercessions because the petitions were for the most part to be, well, general. Now as the Universal prayer we understand it as prayer for the universal church and the world. Yes we can have some specific petitions, such as for a natural disaster or for special needs, but for the most part they follow the outline for petitions in the GIRM. I tried to limit it to 6 or 7. 12 is way too many in my opinion.

It is not easy to come up with the petitions each week, and I think the book of published petitions cause parishes to leave out urgent needs in the Church, the world, and in the local area. If people complain, ask them if they would like to help you to write them every week. Guaranteed that will shut them up.


Appendix V of the Roman Missal has 11 sets of examples of the Prayer of the Faithful. In the Australian edition they are on pages 1515-1527. Reading these may help with the sorts of prayers and format.


This prayer is the one that suffers most from 'liturgists', as far as I'm concerned. I know that we were trained not to compose our prayers as "For (intention) so that (something might happen) because that would be dictating to God. But that makes no sense and is actually contradicted by the way the intercessions for Baptism are written.

It's common that whoever prepares them for our parish uses the ones included in the Novalis "Living With Christ"/"Sunday Missal" as the first 3 or 4 and then adds more. That means we end up with 8 or 9 and when there is a Baptism there are even more:


*]for the needs of the Church;
*] for public authorities and the salvation of the whole world
*]for our parish community
*]for victims of an immediate disaster, accident, etc. as necessary
*]for the person for whom the Mass is offered
*]for the sick and those who care for them
*]for the dead and those who mourn them
*]for our own personal intentions and those entered in our intentions book


I am charged with preparing the General Intercessions in my parish. I copy them from an approved liturgical book and then I add one from the USCCB's Fortnight For Freedom suggested prayers. Sometimes, instead of adding it, I replace one instead, if there would be duplication, or undue prolongation. I always append the special intention of the Mass, whether deceased or living. Then they are translated into Spanish by volunteers for the Spanish Masses.


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