Sickness and pain have many faces: our distress when we are suddenly struck down; a chronic, paralyzing infirmity which keeps us from moving or acting; a relentless, continuing pain for which there is no promise of relief; sickness and pain to which are added depression and a feeling of abandonment.
Prayer can be very difficult when we are ill. We can find consolation by using the Psalms as a setting. They show God’s understanding of how we feel. Psalm 88, which came from a suffering heart, is most useful.
“Lord my God, I call for help by day, I cry at night before you. Let my prayer come into your presence. O turn your ear to my cry. For my soul is filled with evils; my life is on the brink of the grave. I am reckoned as one in the tomb: I have reached the end of my strength, like one alone among the dead; like the slain lying in their graves; like those you remember no more, cut off, as they are, from your hand. You have laid me in the depths of the tomb, in places that are dark, in the depths. Your anger weighs down upon me: I am drowned beneath your waves” (Ps 88).