The Prayer of the Faithful, which is also known as the Universal Prayer, General Intercession or Bidding Prayer, is a series of intentions offered by the church for a number of different petitions. These include prayers for the Catholic Church, public leaders, the sick and the needs of the community. During special services, such as weddings or funerals, the Prayer of the Faithful may include special petitions for the occasion.
The Prayer of the Faithful always follows the same pattern. The first petition is for the Catholic Church; it may name a particular intention for the church or mention local church leaders. The second prayer is for the salvation of the world. Parishes may tailor this intention to reflect a specific purpose; for example, the second intention may seek justice for the world. The third prayer is for the oppressed, needy and burdened. Catholics may take this time to pray for the poor of the community, the unemployed or anyone suffering from addiction.
The fourth prayer petitions God to care for specific material or spiritual needs of the community. For example, it may petition that members of the community seek to serve one another to show their love of Christ. The fifth intention focuses on the sick. Individual members of the community who are suffering from serious illness may be named at this time.
The sixth intention is a prayer for the dead, especially family members and friends in the parish community. If the mass is being offered for a particular person, that person is named in the sixth intention. The seventh prayer is dedicated to the personal intentions of parishioners. After the reader says this prayer, he pauses for a moment of reflection during which churchgoers can silently offer their personal needs to God.