Each year, the Holy Father asks for our prayers for a specific intention each month. You are invited to answer the Holy Father's request and to join with many people worldwide in praying for this intention each month. Starting in 2017, only one general intention is offered per month. The Holy Father plans, however, to add a second prayer intention each month related to current events or urgent needs, like disaster relief. The urgent prayer request will help mobilize prayer and action related to the urgent situation.
The Holy Father has entrusted these intentions in a particular way to the Apostleship of Prayer, an organization that works to encourage Christians to respond to the Pope's appeal and to deepen their daily prayer.
Late in the 1800's the Pope himself proposed a particular monthly intention for the Apostleship of Prayer, and since 1929 the Holy Father has also given a specific mission intention to the faithful for their prayerful attention.
On its 100th anniversary in 1944, Pope Pius XII gave thanks to God for the Apostleship of Prayer, calling it "one of the most efficacious means for the salvation of souls, since it concerns prayer and prayer in common." He commended the organization for its goal: "to pray assiduously for the needs of the Church and to try to satisfy them through daily offering."
Pope John Paul II, on the occasion of its 150th anniversary in 1994, wrote: "As the dawn of the third millennium approaches a world in which many sectors have become quite pagan, it is obvious how urgent it is for members of the Apostleship of Prayer to be involved in the service of the new evangelization. For Christ has come to preach the Good News to the poor, and the Apostleship of Prayer has always considered itself a form of popular piety for the masses. As such it has performed an important service during the past hundred and fifty years by giving new life to people's awareness of how valuable their lives are to God for the building up of His Kingdom."
Truly the Apostleship of Prayer is the Pope's own "prayer group." It is, as Pope John Paul II wrote in 1985, "a precious treasure from the Pope's heart and the Heart of Christ." The Apostleship of Prayer has renewed itself for the contemporary world. Pope Francis himself has approved the renewal document published by the international office of the Apostleship in Rome.
(The Apostleship of Prayer will also publish the Holy Father's urgent prayer intentions as soon as they are received from the Holy See.)
That all Christians may be faithful to the Lord's teaching by striving with prayer and fraternal charity to restore ecclesial communion and by collaborating to meet the challenges facing humanity.
Comfort for the Afflicted
That all those who are afflicted, especially the poor, refugees, and marginalized, may find welcome and comfort in our communities.
Support for Persecuted Christians
That persecuted Christians may be supported by the prayers and material help of the whole Church.
That young people may respond generously to their vocations and seriously consider offering themselves to God in the priesthood or consecrated life.
Christians in Africa
That Christians in Africa, in imitation of the Merciful Jesus, may give prophetic witness to reconciliation, justice, and peace.
That national leaders may firmly commit themselves to ending the arms trade, which victimizes so many innocent people.
That our brothers and sisters who have strayed from the faith, through our prayer and witness to the Gospel, may rediscover the merciful closeness of the Lord and the beauty of the Christian life.
That artists of our time, through their ingenuity, may help everyone discover the beauty of creation.
That our parishes, animated by a missionary spirit, may be places where faith is communicated and charity is seen.
Workers and the Unemployed
That all workers may receive respect and protection of their rights, and that the unemployed may receive the opportunity to contribute to the common good.
Christians in Asia
That Christians in Asia, bearing witness to the Gospel in word and deed, may promote dialogue, peace, and mutual understanding, especially with those of other religions.
That the elderly, sustained by families and Christian communities, may apply their wisdom and experience to spreading the faith and forming the new generations.