I was impressed by Pope Francis’s address to Congress Thursday. He was both eloquent and direct in his charges regarding the care of God’s world and God’s people. I was moved after the address, when he stood on the balcony and addressed the thousands of people gathered outside. After praying for the crowd, especially the children, he asked the people to pray for him. I recalled when he was first introduced to the world as the new Pope: He asked the same favor.

A world leader, in a moment he could have issued a grand pronouncement, made a humble request. His choice was a powerful reminder that we all need prayer, and we should not hesitate to ask others to pray on our behalf. Too often, we wait until we’re in genuine distress to ask brothers and sisters to pray for us. But who among us lives a day that couldn’t be improved by prayer? Even when things are going well, we need the prayers of other faithful followers of the Lord to help us remain thankful, joyful, and focused on His will. And when things aren’t going well, when we’re beset by strife or tragedy, we need the prayers of those who love us to lift us up for His strength and protection.

When we pray for each other, we also strengthen the bond that unites us as the children of God. We put aside our own cares for the moment, and devote ourselves to caring for another, and to carrying that person before the Lord.

We can pray as individuals, knowing that God hears each and every one of His children. But we should also pray for each other, forming a chorus of loving voices, united in love, concern, gratitude, and praise, proclaiming the “Hosannas” of His people.

Pray for me. I will pray for you.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”

Ephesians 6:18-20