Praying for the Sick

The feast of Our Lady of Lourdes prompts a few thoughts about praying for the sick. What do we think we are doing?

First of all, we are obviously obeying biblical injunctions to pray for the sick that they may recover; but what are we doing when recovery is unlikely: for example, when the person for whom we are praying is very old and tired and wants to go home to God? I think prayer for the sick in such situations is praying on behalf of the sick person. Even a bad cold can make it difficult for us to do the things we normally do, and prayer is no exception. It can be a thousand times worse when we have a serious illness that exhausts us or makes us so ‘down’ that our spiritual lives go blank. It is then that knowing others are praying for us, that the communion of saints is holding us up before God, may yield a grain of comfort and encouragement. Finally, when we pray for the sick, we pray for ourselves. There is none of us who is not in need of healing, but most of us don’t know our own sickness or refuse to acknowledge it.

Today, when we pray for the sick and those who care for them, let us not forget to pray for ourselves, for the forgiveness of our sins and for our salvation in Christ.

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8 thoughts on “Praying for the Sick”

  1. You are so right, praying when sick can be v difficult, sometime just a holding on. Praying on behalf of becomes very supportive. When praying with the sick, I ask they may have strength, courage and patience, as well as including those who are looking after the sick.

  2. I have two perspectives on this: when my sister had cancer I obviously prayed for her, preferably for a recovery, but even in the early stages there has to be an element of ‘Thy will be done’, and after the terminal diagnosis that is the only prayer that one could say. As an adjunct I prayed for all the people looking after her as well – and she was always well cared for.
    From my own point of view, I was anointed before having an operation last year, and I know the sacrament and the prayers of my family and friends helped me enormously. You can actually feel the spiritual power (though hard to describe).

  3. Good post. We pray so much for others, that we sometimes forget our own needs.

    Using the ACTS (Adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication) is my key to prayer in this context. Trying to leave out nothing in the process.

    The General Thanksgiving from the Book of Common Prayer is one I used often:

    ALMIGHTY God, Father of all mercies, we thine unworthy servants do give thee most humble and hearty thanks for all thy goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all men; [*particularly to those who desire now to offer up their praises and thanksgivings for thy late mercies vouchsafed unto them.] We bless thee for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for thine inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And we beseech thee, give us that due sense of all thy mercies, that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful, and that we shew forth thy praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives; by giving up ourselves to thy service, and by walking before thee in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.

  4. As one who has been, and is being prayed for, I am thankful to be reminded in prayer that I will never have to face the future, and all it may bring, alone. Some of this future looks very scary, and I have been “held” through moments of real fear. I received this assurance through being prayed for 10 years ago, and cling to it. Especially when waiting by myself to be taken through for a “procedure” – the medical staff are always very caring, but Jesus is there too, faithfully keeping watch.

  5. When my brother was very ill I never prayed for him to get better because I was aware that I didn’t know whether that was best for him. I simply prayed for him: that is, I left it to God to do what whas right. Then, one day as I was driving from the hospital after visiting, I became aware of all the pople in the street and that God loved each one of them. I wondered if anyone was praying for them and then realsied that God is looking after them anyway. I find prayers of petition problematical. God knows the needs of us all so God is not dependent on my prayers for other people. But Jesus told us to ask….. I do like the idea of praying on behalf of. A friend of mine, when one of her children was a difficult teenager, said she prayed for her daughter what the daughter needed to pray for herself.

  6. I am not as good as all of you but I can claim to have been a porter/lugger for HCPT for 21 years.
    I was once asked if I had witnessed a miracle in all those years. My answer is relevant today as it was then, to see 5000 sick children having a holiday with Our Lady and St Bernadette, miraculous.

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