The Prayer Bowl

Having trouble remembering everything you’d like to pray for? Try this simple solution.

by - Posted on Feb 3, 2012

hands holding prayer bowl

People are always asking me to pray for them, and I always say yes. I mean, how do you say no to prayer? But with so many requests from coworkers, family and friends, colleagues and fellow parishioners—not to mention my own prayers—sometimes I lose track of all their prayer needs. I’m on prayer overload.

One day I was chatting with my friend Sister Bridget, an Ursuline nun. I mentioned my prayer overload problem to her. “I can’t remember who and what I’m supposed to be praying for!”

“Try a prayer bowl,” she said. She told me that she keeps a small bowl in her home, and whenever she gets a prayer request, she writes it down on a slip of paper, and drops it into the bowl. “A couple of times a day I put my hand into the bowl and read through a handful of requests.”

I’ll have to give that a try, I thought.

Several months later, on a trip to Assisi and Rome, I found the perfect bowl, carved out of an ancient olive tree, full of beautiful swirls in shades of olive and brown.

I bought it and brought it home, and put it on my desk at work where I can see it every day.

Now, whenever I receive a prayer request or hear of someone in need, I write it on a slip of paper and put down the date. Then I drop it in the bowl. Lord, I pray, please remember everyone in this bowl. Some of the prayers have been, “Katie’s son in Iraq,” “Judy’s breast cancer” or “the sale of Bob’s house.”

May your will be done, I add.

My bowl is always full. But I never feel overwhelmed anymore. Just the opposite. After a month or two I take out the slips of paper and see how many of those prayers have been answered, and I add one more prayer of my own: Thank you, Lord.

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