What’s a Prayer Roll and Why Does It Matter?

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Did you see the recent announcement about prayer rolls? Effective immediately, you can now submit names virtually! This is huge news! However, I just know there are some people out there who have no clue what a prayer roll even is. Don’t stress! I’m here to break it down for you!

Related: 4 Ways You Can Prepare for the Re-Opening of Latter-Day Saint Temples

In a Nutshell

Basically, the prayer roll at a temple provides a way for us to join together in prayer for people that are afflicted in any way. The article said,

“Members are invited to place the names of those in need on what is known as the “prayer roll” of the temple. Members then unite their faith in asking Heavenly Father to bless those persons whose names are on the prayer rolls.” 

It’s pretty simple! If you know of someone in need, you are welcome to write their name down. It stays anonymous, and patrons at the temple will offer prayers in their behalf.

Where does it come from?

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To be honest, there is not much (if anything) published on the origins of this practice. The Church’s article states:

“It is a common practice among many people of faith to pray for loved ones when they face illness, afflictions or other challenges. In many faith traditions, this includes praying collectively for those with specific needs. The scriptures record multiple examples when Jesus Christ prayed in groups and admonished those present to also pray.

In temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this practice is observed.”

To me, it doesn’t really matter where the idea came from. What matters is the fact that people are joining together in faith for those they don’t even know. How beautiful is that?

Similar Ideas

In my research for this article, however, I came across some similar practices that I think are worth mentioning. I hope these give you an idea of what we’re talking about here!

The Western Wall

Also known as the “wailing wall,” this pilgrimage site in Jerusalem is sacred to the Jewish people. An article I found said,

“Visitors to the wall have long followed the practice of wedging small slips of paper, upon which prayers and petitions are written, into the cracks between the stones.” 

People come from all over the world to place their prayers in this wall. I find it inspiring that people of faith are so willing to make sacrifices to get closer to God.

Worldwide Unified

When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit and all of the temples were closed, many were unsure of what to do when they wanted to request prayers for their friends/family in need. They began turning to a Facebook page called Worldwide Unified.

We actually have an entire article about it here on Third Hour! It blew me away to see how many people from different religions were joining together. It’s so touching!


I have a particular love for learning about Hinduism. Therefore, I was eager to see if they did anything like our prayer rolls.

On their official website, they mention that it’s important to pray for those who are sick and afflicted. Their prayers are pre-written and recited. Usually, they are in the language of Sanskrit.

However, they wanted to be sure that all can participate, so they have translated most of their prayers into other languages. Their article stated:

“Since many people are familiar with more than one language, in religious congregations you will often hear them praying together in multiple languages. It is a great example to show that God and prayers bring diverse groups of people together and promote social cultural and religious harmony.”

Why does it matter?

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Elder Oaks said,

“We know that the prayer of faith, uttered alone or in our homes or places of worship, can be effective to heal the sick.”

Heavenly Father loves us. He wants to answer our prayers and help those we care about. Taking time to pray for others is an amazing way to bring about miracles.

I am so grateful that the prayer rolls in temples all around the world allow us to do this more conveniently!

Related: The Temples Are Closed and I Need the Prayer Roll

Do you have any other questions about the prayer roll and how it works? Let us know in the comments below!

Brooklyn Gittins is an enthusiastic member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She has written for food and lifestyle blogs but is currently sharpening her skills as a writing intern for Third Hour. She enjoys spending time with her husband, petting dogs, and eating buttered noodles.