For many people, faith plays a large part in coping with serious illness, including cancer.
"I remember when my mom died of cancer several years ago, I discovered prayer was one of the most critical lifelines I had," wrote Pete Hise, lead pastor at Quest Community Church in Lexington. "Sometimes it was a prayer asking God for something, a prayer simply crying out for help, or sometimes a heart-wrenching prayer out of frustration."
As part of our Black and White and Pink All Over special edition, we asked Hise and other Central Kentucky faith leaders for a prayer they would offer for someone suffering from breast cancer or any other serious illness. Here is a sampling of their prayers.
The Rev. Kory Wilcoxson, Crestwood Christian Church: Loving God, we pray for a cure for this disease and the restored health of all those who suffer from it. But if that is not possible, then we pray that you use this disease to make your will known in this world. We trust that you work through all things to bring about good for those who believe in you. Lord, work through the pain, the suffering and the loss caused by cancer to bring about good, until we are able to end this disease once and for all. Amen.
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The Rev. James W. Sichko, St. Mark Catholic Church, Richmond: I just buried a 50-year-old mother of two who was a marathon runner. This is the prayer I wrote for her. Any person's name can be interchanged with hers.
Loving and gracious God,
creation reveals your love
in splendor too much for a lifetime;
and while we run the race
a brief span of years
it is never enough
to love, to live, to see you in it all.
And so, you give us forever
and so much more.
Karyn knew this, O God,
and in this sure knowledge
we, too, celebrate
today and forever in gratitude
for gifts too many to count:
love and life;
indeed, what is nearly incomprehensible:
Rabbi Marc Kline, Temple Adath Israel: This prayer was written by Rabbi Aviva Bass, and I made some additions. It is to be recited by the patient.
I cannot choose the day of my death, but I decide the way of my life.
I do not know if I will get up tomorrow, but I can stand to be counted today.
My hands may weaken in time, but for now I can still write a loving message.
I may never find the cure for cancer, but I must search for a healing word for a friend.
My voice may someday falter, but today I may speak kindly to another human being.
I may lose my ability to walk, but now I must dance to the rhythm of life.
Blindness may someday fill my eyes, but I can look for God in all I see today.
I may become hard of hearing, but let me not harden my heart.
I may lose the ones whom I love one day, but in their hearts may I never leave.
I do not know when I will last draw breath, but let this exhalation be a song of praise.
There may be a time when I cannot eat, but now I hunger for love and affection.
I pray that I may heal and live more days, but if not, I still cherish the days I have lived.
Mickey Anders, South Elkhorn Christian Church: O God of consolation and compassion, we pray for our friends who have heard their doctors say about them the feared word cancer. We confess that we fear the very word like some monster whose name must not be spoken. We know exactly what is meant by the "C" word. We are afraid to say it. We are afraid of the unknown that it brings. We are afraid to learn of our chances. This word has brought many of the things we fear, including confusion, conflict and change. Our friends have suffered through chemotherapy and its consequences.
Now we pray that you may change our vocabulary and theirs. Help these friends to hear the other "C" words. May we be their champions, helping them to choose a positive attitude even amid their cruel circumstances. Let us speak words that help them cope, give them courage, connect them with a caring community, show them concern and give them cheer.
Make us more than conquerors, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
The Rev. Rachael Brooks, New Hope Church (Independent Presbyterian): God of grace and mercy, only you have the power to completely heal, comfort and give me peace. My trust is in you, and like a sleeping child carried in a father's arms, I place my life in your hands. I surrender to your will and only ask that you give me strength, confidence and joy as I travel this unknown path with you. Be with me and those I love so we might fully know your love and feel your presence. You are the first, the last, and I remain in you forever.
Pete Hise, Quest Community Church: Heavenly Father, thank you that you know us so intimately. No detail of our lives, no wound in our hearts, no tear that falls from our eyes is overlooked by you. You see it all and love us, right where we are. I ask that you would open the hearts of those in the midst of the battle with cancer to recognize your presence, your power and your love that's available to them right now.
May they encounter the compassionate love of Jesus — the one who walked lonely roads, who knows pain and who understands suffering. Give them, along with the family and friends that are in this fight with them, the grace and strength they need today, Jesus. Fill them with your hope — a hope that isn't based on circumstances, a hope that doesn't disappoint. May they experience your tender mercy that is new every morning. I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.
Myron Williams, Southland Christian Church: Lord God, maker of heaven and earth, creator of all which is good, we come as your people seeking wisdom and understanding for the disease termed cancer. This disease was not part of your initial plan for life, yet we now experience pain and disease because of broken relationships with you and with your creation.
When Jesus opened his ministry, he said he would bring healing to the sick, and yet we do not always see such healing of this disease in our time. We wonder why some are healed in this life and others' earthly lives end. We do not understand, so teach us to wait patiently for your response. Open our ears to hear from you, removing any preconceived notions about you and who you are so we can truly hear you.
Great Physician, you work through modern medicines and through miracles for healing. So now come into the life of the people who have cancer and bring about healing; healing which is physical, emotional, relational and even financial, so that those with this disease may have life and have it abundantly through you.
Increase our faith in you and in who you are and in what you do. We believe but ask you to forgive our unbelief. In these days of fear and anxiety we ask for not only your healing, but your peace, which goes beyond comprehension and will come into our lives as we wait to hear from you.
In suffering we learn strength, in waiting we learn patience, in sickness we learn life. Thank you for teaching us all in these days of this disease. May we trust you, knowing you have only what is best for us in your supreme will.
In the name of Jesus, we call out. Amen.
The Rev. Anthony Everett, Nia Community of Faith: Lord Jesus Christ, we come to you sharing the suffering that you endured. Grant us patience during this time, that as we and those who suffer from breast cancer live with pain, disappointment, and frustration, we may realize that suffering is a part of life, a part of life that you know intimately.
Touch all breast cancer patients in their time of trial, hold them tenderly in your loving arms, and let them know you care.
Renew us in our spirits, even when our bodies are not being renewed, that we might be ever prepared to dwell in your eternal home, through our faith in you, Lord Jesus, who died and are alive for evermore. Amen.
Therese Warrick, Sisters Road to Freedom: James 5:13-16, "Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."
Most wonderful and glorious Father, I come before you as humble as I know how, praying in faithfulness that you will grant healing to the mentally sick, the physically sick, the spiritually sick, in the mighty name of Jesus. Father, I am believing and trusting in you that you will make the sick whole again, in the name of Jesus. Father, we love you and we thank you for your healing because we know that there is power in the blood of Jesus Christ. Hallelujah. Amen.
The Rev. Mary Seeger Weese, Midway Presbyterian Church: Dear God,
We thank you for the life you give us and your steadfast love which never, ever fails us.
We pray for strength to face these challenges we must face.
We pray for wisdom for the doctors and nurses and all who will provide care.
We pray for strength for family and friends and all who are supportive.
We pray for faith to take this one day at a time.
We pray for love to make surprising visits at every turn.
We pray for peace that passes all understanding to enfold us when we least expect it.
And we pray for the grace to know that neither height nor depth nor things present nor things past nor chemo nor radiation nor anything in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ.
In the name of Christ we pray. Amen.
Father Dale White, St. Luke Anglican Church: Heavenly Father, we praise you with our lives, lives you have given, for we totally belong to you. Give us wisdom to know you are not the author of evil or death, rather the author of life, peace and joy. This cancer which attacks your children is an awful and feared enemy, and yet we, who call you Lord and savior, know it can never destroy those who look to you for our care. You never promised an unscathed, pain-free life, but you have promised never to leave us or forsake us. Comfort us in our hour of need. Divine healer, we pray for your touch, and your presence, not only in this physical body, but in our bodies which will live forever with you in glory. Amen
The Rev. Paula L. Ott, Christ Church Cathedral: Holy God, this day I give you thanks for your holy presence during these difficult times and for the people who surround and care for me. Thank you for the gift of healing you have given physicians and nurses. You have blessed me with family and friends who shower me with their tender love and care. Lord, be with me and those I love in the days ahead, for you are our eternal shield and support. Amen.
Elda Dede, Lexington Baha'i Community: In the Baha'i Faith we have many beautiful revealed prayers. Being part of the divine revelation, they have special power and beauty. Here is one:
Thy name is my healing, O my God, and remembrance of thee is my remedy. Nearness to thee is my hope, and love for thee is my companion. Thy mercy to me is my healing and my succor in both this world and the world to come. Thou, verily, art the all- bountiful, the all-knowing, the all-wise. Bahá'u'lláh.