Are there guidelines for the petitions at Mass? How many should we pray for? What are we supposed to pray for?
--Puzzled in Plains
First some history: Many people may know that the General In returned to the Mass in the 1970 edition. In the 1570 edition of the Mass there were no General Intercessions. Good Friday was the only liturgical day to have intercessions. It was based on that model that the Prayers of the Faithfulwere returned to the Eucharistic liturgy.
There is a reason why they are called “general.” We pray for all the needs of the universal church and world. It is in the form of a litany prayer, with the same response after each, “Lord, hear our prayer,” or “Lord, have mercy,” or “Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.” Interestingly, it is during Morning or Evening Prayer (from the Liturgy of the Hours) that we have specific intercessions and specific needs mentioned; this is where people share their personal prayer needs on behalf of the community.
There are only 4 petitions required during the Mass – four areas to pray for: 1) for the needs of the Church; 2) for public authorities and the salvation of the whole world; 3) For those burdened by any kind of difficulty; 4) for the local community. As you notice, there are no specific intentions or Mass requests during the General Intercessions. This is to remind us that all people are remembered in each Mass – living and deceased and not to give the impression of sponsorship or that we “buy” ourway to God’s graces.
One might recommend that there are "generally" 6 petitions in most formats, especially remembering the sick, and those who care for them, and the dead and those who grieve. We also want to remember those in need of employment and housing.