Today I was sent a FaceBook request to join a “prayer chain page” to pray for a woman hospitalized in Texas. I don’t know the sick woman and only distantly know the woman making the request. A similar thing happens on some email lists. People post, requesting others to pray for someone they know but those on the list do not.
There are two things about this that strike me as being odd
- Given all the people I actually know who need help — on all different levels — it would seem a strange use of time (and spiritual favors?) to pray for people I don’t know at all.
- The implication is that the more people who pray for someone, the more likely it is that God will respond.
These thoughts led me to the prayer rolls. For those who don’t know, the prayer rolls are lists of names that are written down and placed on the altar during temple endowment sessions. The people named on the rolls are prayed for collectively during the session.
In order to place a name on a prayer roll you can:
- Write the name on a piece of paper at the temple and place it in the box.
- Call the temple in question and give the name (some have a dedicated line and voice mail where you can leave a name).
- Call the general Salt Lake number and leave the name (800.453.3860).
You do not have to be a member to be on the prayer roll. Once a name goes on a prayer roll list, it stays for two weeks.
What are your thoughts about the purpose of prayer rolls? Does having lots of people pray for someone really help the person being prayed for? (If so, should you call as many temples as possible to get the name on many rolls?) Is this more to help us feel like we are doing something when we are unable to do anything else? Other ideas?