What's a good prayer to say when you visit someone who is very ill?

A fellow caregiver asked...

What's a good prayer to say when you visit someone who is very sick at a nursing home? I know it'd mean a lot to my aunt if I said a little prayer aloud when I go to visit her and I'd like to lift her spirits, but I'm just not sure what's the right one. Any help?

Expert Answer

Shelly Beach, MRE, is a seminary graduate; instructor at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan; author of seven books; and contributor to The NIV Stewardship Study Bible. She speaks nationally on faith, writing, and caregiving and is a host on the website Help for My Life in roundtable discussions on care issues. Beach's most recent release is Ambushed by Grace: Help and Hope on the Caregiving Journey.

Thank you for your commitment to your aunt and taking the time to visit her in a care setting. Nursing home visits can contribute to self-worth and offset feelings of depression, as well as extend hope and encouragement. Your interest in "nursing home prayers"--or prayers specifically targeted to her needs--reflects your sensitivity to her life circumstances. Be encouraged in knowing that prayer often plays powerful spiritual and emotional role in the lives of those in nursing homes.

Begin by asking.

Ask your aunt if there's anything she'd like you to pray about"”her health, personal concerns, the needs of friends or family, or faith issues. She may be willing and able to share things with you that are important to her.

Keep it real.

Personal, heartfelt prayer is always comforting, prayer that reflects the realities of your friend, relative, or loved one's life: their challenges, losses, heartaches, fears, and joys. Don't worry about the language of your prayer. Keep it conversational and simple.

Use faith-based resources.

If you don't feel comfortable praying aloud, purchase a book of short prayers or use passages in the Bible, such as Psalm 23, other Psalms, or The Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13).

Pray for the practicalities.

Pray for the everyday circumstances of life"”pain, discomfort, good rest and food, the companionship of friends, and the daily schedule of life.

Pray for God's comfort and blessings.

Consider including some of the following elements in your prayer:

Gratitude: For a grateful heart

*Appreciation for each day

*For caregivers

*For family members and friends

*For special events or celebrations

*For God's goodness and provision

Grace: For God's sustenance and joy

*In spite of limitations

*In the face of pain

*In circumstances of separation and loss

Strength: For God's resources when we are weak

*When facing illness

*When facing fear

*When facing grief and death

A forgiving spirit: For Jesus' spirit of forgiveness to motivate our hearts

*In the face of abandonment

*In the face of wounding

*In the presence of condescension

A servant's heart: To grow more like Christ, even in suffering

*To see the needs of others, even when struggling with personal loss and pain

Growing faith: To draw closer to God each day

*In spite of circumstances

*In the face of unanswered questions