The liturgy, however, is an act of all the people of a community, on behalf of all the people in the world. So there is a global prayer offered for the millions and millions of people on earth, the overwhelming majority of which, obviously, we do not know by name, who are sick or suffering. There are many people in poor parts of the world who do not have access to medical care, and this petition is a good time to pray for them, and for those who have the means to bring medical relief to them. There are people in the world who are suffering in many different ways—poor, homeless, orphans, etc. and this is a good time to bring them to mind and to prayer. At any given time, there are people who are being held unjustly in captivity. And then there are those who are justifiably being held in prisons and jails who should also not escape our prayers for their repentance and salvation. Unfortunately there are many areas in the world where Christians are not safe to practice their Christianity. They are held “captive” by oppressive governments who are bent on stamping our Christianity. We pray for them here as well.
It is interesting to note that we are not praying for safety, freedom, liberation, or vindication for any of the groups mentioned in this petition. We are not praying for material gain or recovery. We are praying for the most important thing—salvation. Perhaps someone who is suffering will never get better, or the person in poverty will never get rich. But salvation is very much in God’s plan for every human soul, and so the prayer for everyone covered by this petition is simple—salvation.
Lord, free those who are held captive by unclean spirits; sail with those who sail; travel with those who travel; defend the widows; protect the orphans; liberate the captives; heal the sick. Remember, Lord, those who are in mines, in exile, in harsh labor, and those in every kind of affliction, necessity, or distress; those who entreat your loving kindness; those who love us and those who hate us; those who have asked us to pray for them, unworthy though we may be. Amen.