AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia
Pope Francis at the Vatican.

Pope Francis has shared a model for prayer using the hand’s five fingers both in person and online, and the guide picked up traction on Facebook on Sept. 5.

Several sources attribute the five-finger prayer method to then-Cardinal Bergoglio, but the current pope taught it “well before he became 'Pope Francis,'” according to an article on the Catholic Vote.org.

The five-finger guide is as follows:

  1. "The thumb is the closest finger to you. So start praying for those who are closest to you. They are the persons easiest to remember. To pray for our dear ones is a 'sweet obligation.'
  2. "The next finger is the index. Pray for those who teach you, instruct you and heal you. They need the support and wisdom to show direction to others. Always keep them in your prayers.
  3. "The following finger is the tallest. It reminds us of our leaders, the governors and those who have authority. They need God’s guidance.
  4. "The fourth finger is the ring finger. Even that it may surprise you, it is our weakest finger. It should remind us to pray for the weakest, the sick or those plagued by problems. They need your prayers.
  5. "And finally we have our smallest finger, the smallest of all. Your pinkie should remind you to pray for yourself. When you are done praying for the other four groups, you will be able to see your own needs but in the proper perspective, and also you will be able to pray for your own needs in a better way."
Some commenters on Facebook were already familiar with the prayer pattern and responded positively to it.

“I have been using the 5 Finger prayer in my Sunday School and Children's Worship for the past 10 years,” said Cathryn Saunders Karmondy on the pope’s Facebook page. “Even our littlest kiddos can participate and remember."

Others had not heard of the model before and appreciated that it is applicable to many religions.

“As with all things from Pope Francis, very wise,” said Facebook commenter Jonathan Neiderbach. “And as a Jew I especially like the fact that it can be used by all, not just Christians!”

Abby Stevens is a writer for the DeseretNews.com Faith and Family sections. She is a graduate of Brigham Young University–Idaho. Contact Abby at astevens@deseretdigital.com.