The Importance of Praying for Our Church Leaders

Last week on The Inner Life, host Josh Raymond recounted a story from years ago when he and his wife still lived in their first home. Over the course of their married lives, Josh and his wife had to deal with all sorts of pest problems, from stinkbugs to yellowjackets to ants. But none of them compared to the rodents that infested their first house. After discovering that rats had been gnawing at the food in their pantry, they tried to rid their home of them using poison, traps, and finally a pest control service, all to no avail.

One thing Josh remembers the pest controller had told him was that rats are very intelligent. They are careful and great at avoiding poisonous bait or spring-loaded traps. They can trigger traps without getting stuck in them. One day, while Josh was reloading one of these very traps, he slipped and the metal clasp slammed shut, triggering a loud snap and causing him to drop it. Josh’s wife and their daughter jumped, shocked at the loud noise. But Josh calmly bent down, picked up the trap, and silently went about reloading it again.

His three-year-old daughter looked up at his wife and whispered, “Papa’s not afraid of anything.”

The idea that parents or figures of authority are invincible, fearless, or omniscient is a typical perspective for young children to have. Because they are incapable of doing or knowing a great many things, having a guardian to turn to in times of uncertainty is a comforting concept. In other words, children see their parents as people who don’t need any help. They can do it all on their own. Similarly, we may think of our Church leaders in that same way. Being men of God, they must surely have access to infinite grace. But this is not the case. Every leader needs help and it’s often the best ones who find themselves relying on the strengths of others.

Father Ethan Southard, a priest in the archdiocese of Los Angeles, joined Josh on the show to discuss the ways that we can offer our assistance and support through prayers for our local priests, bishops, and the Pope in their struggles to lead Catholics to Christ.

Father Ethan offered an important piece of advice in uniting ourselves to the universality of the Church by connecting our prayers to the intentions of the Holy Father. Specifically, Pope Francis has encouraged the Church to pray for the struggles that Catholics around the world are going through right now, especially in Lebanon, China, and Haiti. Often, Catholics of the United States forget what types of suffering the Church members in other countries may be subjected to. A good way to unite ourselves with them as well as the Holy Father is through prayer.

We can get caught up in the cacophonous noise of today’s controversies and lies, but Father Ethan encouraged us to continue to pray. “If there was no disturbance and we were just sliding into darkness, the devil wouldn’t make a big deal. He’d say, ‘Oh great! Yeah, everything’s fine, we’re peaceful. Let’s just be calm and be quiet.’ And he’d have no reason to disturb what’s happening.  But if the Kingdom of God is advancing into that kingdom of darkness, the devil is going to start whipping stuff up, making a lot of noise, and banging the pots and pans and he’s just going to try to distract us and get us all upset so that we actually lose focus.” Father concluded that the fact that times seem so filled with conflict should be a clue that the devil is trying to distract us from the good and beautiful things that are taking place.

We cannot stop praying for and with the Holy Father. Now, while the devil is attempting to disturb the peace and goodness that humanity continues to spread, we should pray more than ever. In the words of St. Padre Pio, “The devil is like a rabid dog tied to a chain; beyond the length of the chain, he cannot seize anyone. And you: keep at a distance. If you approach too near, you let yourself be caught. Remember that the devil has only one door by which to enter the soul: the will.”

At one of his general audiences following his release from the hospital, Pope Francis offered the following prayer: “Let us pray for the Church that she may receive, from the Holy Spirit, the grace and strength to reform herself in the light of the Gospel.” Just as we implore the Holy Spirit to strengthen and carry the Church forward, we should ask the Holy Spirit to carry us forward in our own lives.

Listen to the full conversation at the link below:

Tune in to The Inner Life weekdays at 11am CT

John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at and on the Relevant Radio® app.