Prayers can be very uplifting and sacred moments in one’s faith, especially during moments of stress. People find inspiration and hope in prayers for those who are suffering, on top of it being a useful way to send their best energy and blessings when they have exhausted other methods.
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The Jewish religion has many prayers of healing to draw from when looking to offer goodwill to a member of a local synagogue or community dealing with troubling health issues. There is the important "Mi Shebeirach" or the prayer for healing. Aside from the healing prayer, there are a host of other Psalms and readings that may bring some solace to the patient and offer up good energy.
There are many words of faith available to offer during a time of need, but it can be hard to choose the one that speaks to you. We’ve put together a list of suggested Jewish scripture and readings to help you find the right message for a loved one or community member.
Jewish Prayer for Healing: Mi Shebeirach
"Mi Shebeirach" is the traditional prayer for the sick. This Hebrew phrase "Mi Shebeirach" begins the prayer, and it translates to "the One who blessed."
In this prayer, the person reciting it asks the "One who blessed our ancestors" to bring complete physical and spiritual healing to the one for which the prayer is said. Specifically, the prayer asks for "blessing, mercy and strength" for the person suffering from health issues. When reciting this prayer, you can add the name of the person or people you know in need of healing.
Here is the English translation of the Hebrew text of the "Mi Shebeirach":
"May the one who blessed our ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, bless and heal those who are ill [names]. May the Blessed Holy One be filled with compassion for their health to be restored and their strength to be revived. May God swiftly send them a complete renewal of body and spirit, and let us say, Amen."
This prayer is often given in Synagogue when the Torah is read, though it is also used in other settings, such as before surgery.
Sometimes this prayer is said for someone with cancer, whether or not they are able to attend that particular service. While some choose to recite the prayer, it is also sung on occasion, often using the melody popularized by Debbie Friedman.
Though the "Mi Shebeirach" is the most common Jewish prayer for healing, it may be more personal to recite or read other texts to give hope to the ill.
Jewish Psalms for Healing
The shock of illness and a sincere desire to say the right thing can be obstacles when looking for what to say to someone who is sick. If you are looking for guidance, and want to visit someone who is suffering physically, consider bookmarking these Psalms to share with your friend or family member.
Tell the person close to you that you have been thinking about them and that you want to share some important words that you hope will bring them comfort.
"O Lord, heal me, for my bones are shaking with terror."
Sometimes we are too careful when speaking to people who are suffering. Perhaps your friend or family member wants to be able to talk about their true feelings about facing a grave illness. This Psalm directly asks for healing. At the same time, it recognizes the real fear and scary emotions when going through a health crisis.
"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all."
Brokenhearted is an appropriate and visual word to describe the tough feelings a friend or family member may be dealing with as a result of seeing a loved one so ill.
Maybe you are looking for prayers for grieving parents, who are suffering from the illness or injury of their child. This Psalm can help soothe some of the hurt and acute pain for those who are hurting.
Psalm 31:9, 14-15
"Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief." "But I trust in you, Lord; I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in your hands."
Again, this is the perfect Psalm to share with someone who is hurting physically or emotionally. For those who practice, it can be useful to remind your friend to turn to a higher power in times of need.
"Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the Lord delivers them in times of trouble. The Lord protects and preserves them— they are counted among the blessed in the land— he does not give them over to the desire of their foes. The Lord sustains them on their sickbed and restores them from their bed of illness."
This Psalm is a fantastic message of hope and recovery. Encapsulating both recovery and strength in a few sentences can offer some real inspiration to a close friend or family member who may feel the opposite.
"Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them."
Share this Psalm for those who have been feeling alone in their pain and suffering. With chronic illnesses or recovery from a tough injury, it can be a lonely path to regain strength and confidence. This Psalm can perhaps offer some inspiring words and hope when it all feels too difficult.
In part, this Psalm asks, "How long will You forget me, O Lord? Forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?"
In this Psalm, the reader asks for patience from God. In most cases, healing does not happen immediately. It is a process, and one may need to ask for more patience and endurance to manage that time.
This Psalm reads in part: "Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice! — let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? …But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning …those who watch for the morning."
In life, we can encounter a lot of moments where we feel drained of hope in our mind, body, and spirit. This Psalm offers a different take on prayer, where you can infuse your emotion into these words and cry out for help and guidance to another power. That has its own form of power.
Jewish Readings for Healing
The Greater Miami Jewish Federation has gathered a list of readings and prayers for those needing to be healed from an illness. Here are some from this particular source, as well as others that may be helpful for you or a loved one in need.
Read these prayers alongside your loved ones, or say them on his or her behalf. It can feel a bit more heartwarming to read alongside a loved one who is suffering, and you can help provide a momentum of faith and prayer for them.
'Prayer for the Body'
"Blessed are You, our Eternal God, Creator of the Universe, who has made our bodies in wisdom, creating openings, arteries, glands, and organs marvelous in structure, intricate in design. Should but one of them, by being blocked or opened, fail to function, it would be difficult to stand before You. Wondrous Fashioner and Sustainer of life, Source of our health and our strength, we give You thanks and praise."
This prayer asks the Creator to heal the body that he originally designed. This reading and prayer may give comfort to someone who is suffering from a chronic illness or a sustained injury with a long recovery time.
'A Prayer to the Ultimate Physician'
"Heal us, O God, and we shall be healed; save us and we shall be saved, for You indeed are our praise. Lift us up and heal the wounds of our body and spirit, for You are the almighty King, and You are the faithful and merciful healer. Blessed are You, O God, who heals the sick of Your People Israel."
Offering up prayers not only for those who are ill but those who help treat the sick can also provide some much-needed light when things feel especially dire. This prayer can be recited when looking to give support on all sides when a particular illness is challenging for people on all sides.
'Prayer for the Soul'
"My God, the soul which You have placed within me is pure. You have created it, You will one day take it from me and restore it to me in time to come. So long as my soul is within me, I make acknowledgment before You, my God and God of all generations. Blessed are You, God who restores my soul each day that I may once again awaken."
At points, all illnesses may bring elements of physical and mental strife no matter the diagnosis. The stress of dealing with a chronic or life-threatening disease is difficult to manage on a physical, mental and spiritual level.
This prayer can offer some respite for those looking to find a break and some hope when dealing with the unknown possibilities related to one’s health.
'Prayer for Prolonged Illness'
Part of this prayer reads as follows: "My God and God of all generations, in my great need I pour out my heart to You. The days and weeks of suffering are hard to endure. In my struggle, let me feel that You are near, a presence whose care enfolds me. Rouse in me the strength to overcome fear and anxiety, and brighten my spirit with the assurance of Your love."
There certainly comes a time when people can feel pummeled down by the constant pressure of an unknown or unimproved health diagnosis. This prayer continues by asking that the person's illness does not affect their faith, which can be difficult sometimes when experiencing strong moments of doubt related to health or otherwise.
'Prayer for a Caregiver'
This prayer reads (in part): "Sustainer of the Universe, help me to care for my loved one, with hope, courage and sensitivity. Grant me insight, resourcefulness and the ability to ask for help and to accept help when it is needed. May I find the patience to overcome difficult moments and to find meaning and purpose in the smallest task."
It is not just the sick and infirm who receive solace from leaning on God. Caregivers also need prayers, as well. The community surrounding a person with an illness can be vast. If you are close to someone who is a caregiver, share this prayer with them to also offer them some guidance or a little moment of spiritual hope.
Jewish Prayers to Give You Solace
If you are suffering, there are many Jewish prayers that you can use to look for solace. Furthermore, having a community come together to pray for you can give you a bit more spiritual and mental fortitude to take on whatever is next when dealing with a difficult health problem. Prayers are for everyone in the community, from the ill to those who are suffering from heartache, and as mentioned above, to those who help to care for a community or care for your loved one. Above all, if you are looking for some words of comfort, there are some Jewish funeral prayers that can also help.
Spiritual support and guidance is one part of many when helping a loved one. Regardless of health or age, perhaps you can provide some practical support by encouraging them to complete end-of-life planning. This is one of the best gifts they can give to their surviving family members.
- “Jewish Prayers for Healing.” Rabbinical Association of Greater Miami. Jewishmiami.org. jewishmiami.org/about/departments/chaplaincy/Desktop/BrochureDraft8.pdf.
- “The Complete Tanakh.” www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/63255/jewish/The-Bible-with-Rashi.htm.
- Tzin, Gabriella. “Mi Sherbeirach: The Traditional Jewish Prayer for the Sick. Netivyah.org. netivyah.org/mi-shebeirach-the-tradition-jewish-prayer-for-the-sick/.