A prayer of special intention is a special matter or purpose for which clergy and congregants either observe a Mass or say prayers. These prayers can concern a wide variety of local, national and international issues and often include church issues.
At a Catholic Mass, a representative of the church speaks a special intention prayer and the parish responds vocally by saying, "Lord, hear our prayer." The representative reads selected intentions first and then invites parishioners to pray in silence for their own intentions.
In Catholic catechism, there are three types of prayer: vocal, meditative, and contemplative. Special intentions can be considered to be all three of these types of prayer. Both the reader and the parishioners are vocally engaged in the act of prayer. Special intention prayers are meditative in the sense that they allow for parishioners to focus on and contemplate issues of great importance to the church community. The meditation of special intentions also allows members of the parish to meditate on prayers of their own. Finally, contemplative prayer is done in the company of others and is focused on hearing God. In Catholic belief, prayer is used to get closer to God and be actively involved in one's faith community. Special intentions help parishioners to be connected not only to each other but also to the world around them through contemplative prayer.