“Ask a Priest: Do Details Need to Be Revealed in Prayer Requests?”

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Q: Am I wrong in insisting that I don’t need the specifics of a situation in order to pray for someone? God already has way more details, right? And is it rude of me to not disclose details that others want (and expect!) when I ask them to pray for me or my loved ones? People get annoyed when I tell them God already has the details. I’ve seen “prayer request details” devolve into gossip so many times. – Helen

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: Your tendency toward discretion is the better way to go. There’s no pressing need for lots of specifics in prayer requests.

And as you say, some details can slip into gossip.

A person who is asked to pray for Mrs. Smith, for instance, doesn’t have to know (and shouldn’t be told!) that her husband is on the verge of abandoning her for a woman half his age.

Nor do you need to reveal the personal details of your life in order to ask for someone’s prayers.

The Catechism in No. 2477 says, “Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty: […] of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them.”

One can only hope that people good enough to ask for prayers will be prudent enough to forgo the seamy details.


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