Prayer For Those That Are Suffering
4 Uplifting Prayers for Healing and Recovery
A devastating medical diagnosis, the unexpected loss of a loved one, the discovery of marital unfaithfulness, a debilitating chronic illness, unrelenting depression.
Looking over the names of people that fill the pages of my prayer journal, my heart cries out for those whose suffering is so raw and gut-wrenching.
Often, my initial response when I hear difficult news is to promise to pray.
Despite my good intentions, it is sometimes hard to know how to pray, especially for healing and recovery.
It is a great comfort that God’s Spirit helps me when I don’t know what to pray, and I cling to the assurance that “the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27).
Although I am grateful for the Spirit’s prayers, there is still an opportunity for me to pray because God hears us when we pray (1 Peter 3:12), and I want to talk with God about my loved ones who are suffering and who desperately need healing whether physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually. Our God can start the process of complete recovery.
As you come alongside those who are suffering, I hope the following prayers will provide some words to guide your own prayers promises and encouragements from the best source of comfort: God’s word.
1. Prayer for Healing
When the shock of a health diagnosis seems to shake our world or the breakdown of a relationship shatters our expectations for the future, our desire is for healing and restoration.
I find it reassuring to know that God encourages us to pray for healing. Jesus grieved the devasting effects and pain caused by sin in the world, and part of his earthly ministry was to bring healing and restoration to a broken world (John 11:1-44).
In the New Testament book of James we read, “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” (James 5:13-15).
In addition to having your church elders pray for healing, we can all pray for those who are sick and facing trouble.
And, while we are careful to realize that God may not provide earthly healing for our loved one, James wants us to pray in faith knowing that regardless of whether our friend experiences healing as a result of the prayers on earth, we will all receive the ultimate healing, eternity in heaven, that comes from the forgiveness of sins and the breaking of the cords of death that try to ensnare us.
It is so hard to watch _________ suffer. It doesn’t seem fair for her to have to endure so much pain. Even though I am powerless, I believe that you are powerful and capable of stepping into this situation and completely altering the outcome.
In faith, I am responding to the promises in your word that you listen to our prayers and those prayers can make her well. So, I am bringing my friend before you to ask for your healing touch in her life.
Thank you for the forgiveness of sin and the promise of eternal healing, but I am asking you to provide healing for her on this side of heaven. Amen.
2. Prayer for Comfort in the Presence of God
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah paints a remarkable picture of what suffering can feel that gives voice to the common experiences of suffering.
Isaiah described these situations drowning, the feeling of being in a massive river or ocean that seems to be so vast and deep that there is no possibility of rescue, raging water that makes it difficult to stay afloat and crashing waves that topple us with doubt and fear.
Suffering is also depicted as a dense, hot fire generating so much smoke that it is difficult to see, creating the feeling of being lost and all alone.Isaiah’s encouragement in the midst of these realities is to not look to the circumstances but to Jesus.
The Lord says, “Do not fear…when you pass through the water, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Isaiah 43:1-2).
As I’ve heard my friend’s latest news, it simply feels as if the water is too high and the flames are too intense.
Please help ________ not to give into fear that can come from focusing on the circumstances swirling around him but to remember the promise that you are with him.
While I know that you are always with him, please give him a tangible reminder of your presence today and that you will faithfully comfort the hurting. Perhaps a verse posted in an unexpected place or a prayer offered by a co-worker or a kind gesture from a stranger.
I entrust him to you knowing that you will be with him on this journey and your presence is greater than anything he will face. Because of your love for him, please give him your comfort and peace that surpasses all understanding and guide him forward into your love. Amen.
Our prayers for those who are suffering rightly focus on the person who is in the center of the crisis. As I have been part of these difficult journeys for people enduring all forms of sickness and suffering, my perspective has expanded to realize that the effects of suffering ripple out and touch many other people. Healing and recovery reaches more than just one.
As we are prompted to pray for those who are suffering, ask the Lord to expand your vision of people you can pray for in the situation. While the needs of close friends and family vary significantly, the one prayer relevant for anyone reeling from the effects and demands of suffering is the desperate, often daily, need for strength from the Lord.
Psalm 121 beautifully reminds us of God’s living presence and his watchful care over his people in the specifics of the circumstances they face. When we feel forgotten in our suffering, the psalmist draws our attention to the God of history and creation, who acts on our behalf.Psalm 121 begins, “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:1-4).
My heart grieves for my friend but I am also so saddened for her family and friends who are deeply impacted by the magnitude of this heart-wrenching situation.
As these family members navigate their own pain and suffering, please remind them that you are near to comfort them as well.
When they are overcome by sadness and fear, provide them with the reminder that you do not sleep, or even take a nap; instead, you are always alert and available to provide the strength they need. You are the only true source of healing and recovery.
As they provide practical care and faithfully serve, please strengthen them when they are discouraged. As they lift their eyes to you, remind them of your love and that the empowering presence of your Spirit is available to them at every moment of each day. Amen.
4. Prayer for the Hope of Heaven after This Life
A sneaky but devasting aspect of suffering is that we often lose our sense of security. Our plans for the future can be shattered and all that lies ahead can appear to be a dense fog. The ultimate uncertainty is death.
For Christians, facing the painful process of death is difficult, but we have hope that death is not the end.
The promise of an eternal home that is free of pain, suffering, and goodbyes gives believers something solid to grasp in the midst of suffering and pain.On the night before Jesus’ arrest, he comforts his disciples and prepares them for the reality of his death in the form of a promise, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.
My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:1-3).
When it came time for you to comfort your disciples you told them about the home you were preparing for them in heaven. Thank you for knowing we need the assurance that this life is not the end, and the promise that _________ will have eternity in heaven with you.
For the pain and suffering he must endure now, please reassure his mind and help him to grasp onto the truth that he will be with you, and heaven will be his forever home. Please strengthen him with the knowledge that you will be the one to wipe away all his tears, and that there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.
Though he can’t see it now and it is beyond our human abilities to comprehend, give him faith to continue to believe your promise to help sustain him each moment of this journey. Amen.
It is a beautiful gift for you to pray for your friends and loved ones as they endure suffering.
As you pray, be encouraged that “The Lord is near to all who call on him” (Psalm 145:18). May his presence bring comfort and peace to you.
Lisa Samra was born and raised in Texas. She graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Texas and earned a Master of Biblical Studies degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.
Lisa now lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with her husband, Jim, and their four children. She and Jim have a joint ministry at olivesandcoffee.com.
Lisa enjoys good coffee, running, and reading, just not all at the same time.
This article is part of our Prayers resource meant to inspire and encourage your prayer life when you face uncertain times. Visit our most popular prayers if you are wondering how to pray or what to pray. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows your heart even if you can't find the words to pray.Serenity Prayer
The Lord’s Prayer
Irish Blessings & Prayers
Good Night Prayers
Prayer for Healing
Prayer for Protection
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3 Things NOT to Say When Someone is Suffering — Explore the Bible
If we are affected by someone’s suffering, we will remember it, which is one of the great gifts that we give to each other.
A young man’s father died, and his local church, as we would expect, loved him well—invitations to dinner, a high priority on everyone’s prayer list, and warm e-mails, texts, and cards. After a week or two, the generous care began to taper off, also as we would expect. The few people who still asked the young man how he was doing stood out to him as unusually caring.
A year later, on the anniversary of the father’s death, a friend from the church called and left a message: “I remember that your father died on this day last year. I just wanted you to know that I was thinking about you and prayed for you. I prayed that there will be times today when the memories you have of him bless you.”
The young man was stunned. He was changed. He was comforted and encouraged, and he committed to keep others on his heart long term.
God’s premiere self-description is “the compassionate and gracious God” (Ex. 34:6 NIV). This means that both our pain and our prayers affect him, and he has us on his heart. He takes our burden on himself and remembers us. As we imitate our Father, we want to feel the burdens of others too.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal. 6:2)
So we call, e-mail, track down the suffering at church. We have them on our heart, and we want them to know it.
Say something. Do something. Remember. That is the basic idea.
What Not to Say
Yet the call to say something does not mean that everything we say is good and helpful. It’s important to know what not to say. Sometimes we may be tempted to respond to someone’s suffering with thoughtless platitudes. Here are three offenders.
1) Do not say: “It could be worse.”
Believe it or not, that is only the first half of a hideous comment, for example: “It could be worse—imagine if you broke both legs.”
We have some odd ways of cheering each other up.
The comment is accurate—everything could be worse. We suffer and then, along with the suffering, have a comforter who says it could be worse.
Such a comment is utterly thoughtless. God himself would never say or sanction it. God does not compare our present suffering to anyone else’s or to worst-case scenarios. Ever. If we hear friends do this in their own suffering, it does not give us the right to chime in. Instead, it might be a time to warn them.
“Yes, your suffering might not seem as severe as _______, but God doesn’t compare your sufferings to others.”
If we make such comparisons, we might be tempted not to speak of the suffering from our hearts to the Lord because we would consider it whining, which it certainly is not.
So even though things could be worse, that is never an appropriate thing to say to others or to let others say about their situation. God is not dismissive of our hardships, and neither should we be.
2) Do not say: “What is God teaching you through this?” Or, “God will work this together for good.”
Those platitudes are biblical in that God does teach us in our suffering, and he is working all things together for good (Rom. 8:28). We agree with C. S. Lewis when he writes that pain is God’s megaphone to arouse a deaf world. But these kinds of comments have hurt so many people; let’s agree that we will never say them.
Consider a few of the possible problems with this and other poorly timed misuses of biblical passages:
- Such responses circumvent compassion. Will you have compassion if someone is being “taught a lesson”? Not ly.
- Such responses tend to be condescending, as in, “I wonder when you will finally get it.”
- Such responses suggest that suffering is a solvable riddle. God has something specific in mind, and we have to guess what it is. Welcome to a cosmic game of Twenty Questions, and we’d better get the right answer soon; otherwise, the suffering will continue.
- Such responses suggest that we have done something to unleash the suffering.
- Such responses undercut God’s call to all suffering people: “Trust me.”
In our attempts to help, we can over-interpret suffering. We search for clues to God’s ways, as if suffering were a scavenger hunt. Get to the end, with the right answers, and God will take away the pain. Meanwhile, the quest for answers is misguided from the start and will end badly.
Suffering is not an intellectual matter that needs answers; it is highly personal: Can I trust him? Does he hear? Suffering is a relational matter, and it is a time to speak honestly to the Lord and remember that the fullest revelation he gives of himself is through Jesus Christ, the suffering servant.
Only when we look to Jesus can we know that God’s love and our suffering can coexist.
3) Do not say: “If you need anything, please call me, anytime.”
This heads in a better direction; it is not quite a platitude. However, this common and kind comment reveals that we do not really know the person.
Sufferers usually don’t know what they want or need, and they won’t call you. The comment is the equivalent of, “I’ve said something nice, now see ya later.
” It gives no real thought to the sufferer’s needs and circumstances, and the suffering person knows it.
Instead we could ask, “What can I do to help?”
Or (better) we could consider what needs to be done and do it.
Wise friends buy more dog food, do the dishes, drop off a meal, cut the grass, babysit the kids, clean the house, give a ride to small group, drop off a note of encouragement and then another and another, help sort out medical bills, and so on.Any such acts of love and service make life easier for the suffering person. And a meal is never just a meal; maid service is never merely a timesaver for those served.
These acts say to the sufferer, “I remember you”; “I think about you often”; “You are not forgotten”; “You are on my heart”; “I love you.” The time we give to creative strategizing is the power behind such acts.
It is unmistakable love that mimics the strategic planning of the triune God’s rescue mission. He planned and acted even before we knew our real needs.
The oddity of our clumsy and sometimes hurtful attempts to help is this: we have clear ideas from what has helped us in our suffering, but we do not adopt it when seeking to love others. We do not always speak to others in the way we would to be spoken to.
Taken from Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love, by Edward T. Welch. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Il 60187, www.crossway.org.
Everyone needs help from time to time, especially in the midst of painful circumstances and difficult trials.
In this short book, a highly respected biblical counselor and successful author offers practical guidance for all Christians—pastors and laypeople a—who want to develop their “helping skills” when it comes to walking alongside hurting people.
Written the conviction that friends are the best helpers, this accessible introduction to biblical counseling will equip believers to share their burdens with one another through gentle words of wisdom and kind acts of love.
PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS—Why and how should we pray and act for the suffering church?
See this page in: Dutch, Indonesian
“…as followers of Christ, we must take a bold step: we must shed the ‘enemy image’ we have of those who persecute us. Because the moment we have an enemy image of anyone, God's love can no longer work through us to reach them! We must pray for and even love those who hate us.”
Each year, millions of Christians around the world participate in an International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. For those of you who take part, I want to thank you on behalf of all those millions of beleaguered Christians living in areas where faith costs the most.
We have to speak for the 200 million Christians worldwide who live under persecution (examples). We have to speak against those oppressive regimes where atrocities still happen, because we do not speak up enough as the church in the free world. We do not speak enough to God through prayer about the issue, and we do not speak enough to and through our governments.
what is the solution? The Bible clearly teaches us it is forgiveness and reconciliation, bathed in prayer
Around the world the situation is the same: the suffering cannot cope without our help. But what is the solution? The Bible clearly teaches us it is forgiveness and reconciliation, bathed in prayer.[Note: A Biblical study on how to pray for the persecuted church is presented below.]
I was in a Christian town totally destroyed in one night by a wild Muslim mob, leaving 10,000-20,000 Christians homeless, seeing all their possessions destroyed. We had a big gathering of Christians and Muslims right afterward, and we spoke about forgiveness and reconciliation.
Why? Because life goes on even during and after persecution! We have to look for those opportunities, not just the needs, not just the crises, but the opportunities and the solutions that God gives to those who are dedicated to him.
On that very same day, I received a telephone call from the main Imam [Muslim leader] of that country. He said, “Brother Andrew, can you please come and pray with me? I am very sick!”So I decided to take a local pastor with me who had just been released from prison; a man who had suffered because of the Muslims. Together, along with other members of our Open Doors team, we went to see him. There I explained exactly who Jesus was.
I gave a testimony of my personal faith in Christ. Then I began to pray, and I laid my hands on this Imam, and as I was praying I felt a hand on top of my hand. It was the pastor who had just come from prison.
What a perfect illustration of the teaching of Jesus: pray for those who persecute you.
Christians have an answer in those situations that the world does not know anything about. But as followers of Christ, we must take a bold step: we must shed the “enemy image” we have of those who persecute us. Because the moment we have an enemy image of anyone, God's love can no longer work through us to reach them! We must pray for and even love those who hate us.
I’m willing to die for Him, and I’m also willing to die for you
So in reality, the way Christians live out their lives before others is the most powerful message we can share. It far transcends the words or methods we may try to employ to impact a needy world in the face of the challenging question, “Who is God?”.
Christians must be able to point to our hearts and say, “Here is God! He lives in me.
And I'm willing to die for Him, and I'm also willing to die for you because that's what He did for us on the cross at Calvary!” Nothing else will work in this age of confrontation unless and until every Christian is not only willing to give their lives, but one day actually does it.
I challenge the Christians of the world to pray for their persecuted brothers and sisters, to act on their behalf and to live out the life of Jesus in this needy world around us. Only then we will see a radical change take place in the lives of people. Only then we will see the love of Christ replace the hatred of this world.
Brother Andrew, founder of Open Doors
How to Pray for the Persecuted Church
For their physical protection and deliverance.
Matthew 26:39 “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”
Acts 12:5 “So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.”
Philippians 1:19 “For I know that this shall turn out for my deliverance [from jail] through your prayers.”Philemon 22 “I hope that through your prayers I shall be given to you [from jail].”
Romans 15:30-31 “Now I urge you, brethren… to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, that I may be delivered from those who are disobedient in Judea”.
God predicted persecution:
Acts 20:23-24 “the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me. But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course”
And the suffering came:
Acts 21:30-31 “And all the city was aroused, and the people rushed together; and taking hold of Paul, they dragged him the temple; and… were seeking to kill him.”
That God would give them the right words and that they would fearlessly make Christ known
Here Paul tells how to pray for him when he was suffering for Christ in jail—notice his prayer was not for release.
Ephesians 6:19-20 “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”
[See our Effective Evangelism section]
Colossians 4:2-4 “Devote yourselves to prayer… praying at the same time for us as well, that God may open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; in order that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.”
That they will see God's grace as sufficient and God's power perfected in their weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
That they would love Christ's appearing all the more
2 Timothy 4:5-8 “I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
Hebrews 11:35 “…others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection”.
That they will rejoice in sharing the sufferings of Jesus so that they will rejoice even more when Christ is revealed
Hebrews 10:34 “…accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one.”Matthew 5:12 “Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
I Peter 4:13 “but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.”
That they will endure
Hebrews 10:36 “For you have need of endurance.”
That they will choose ill-treatment and the reproach of Christ, not pleasures of sin
Hebrews 11:24-26 “Moses… (chose) rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.”
That they will arm themselves with this purpose: to suffer so as to eradicate sin
1 Peter 4:1 “arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in flesh has ceased from sin.”
Hebrews 5:8 “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.”
That they will love Christ far more than life itself
Revelation 12:10-11 “they overcame (Satan) because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death.”
Philippians 1:21 “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Acts 20:24 “I (Paul) do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course.”
That they will love their enemies
Luke 6:27-31 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
That they not enter into temptation—an easy possibility under the stress of persecution (Luke 22:39-45 — Jesus in the garden)
That they will rejoice that they are considered worthy to suffer for HIS name
Acts 5:41 “So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.”
That they will remember they were made for such persecution
Acts 14:22 “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”
Philippians 1:29 “For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”
That they will live the joy of the Lord before their persecutors
Acts 16:25 “But about midnight Paul and Silas (in jail) were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.”
Philippians 1:28 “…in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God.”
That they will remember their unbelievable future glory
Romans 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
That they would learn to more completely trust in God
2 Corinthians 1:8-9 “For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead”
That they would rejoice that they bear in their bodies the “brand marks of Christ”
Galations 6:17 “From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus.”
That they would rejoice in filling up that which is lacking in Christ's sufferings
Colossians 1:24 “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body (which is the church) in filling up that which is lacking in Christ's afflictions.”
Note: Our sufferings do not add to the atoning worth of Jesus' sufferings. Rather, His sufferings are not known to the world, and so we suffer to bring that news to those His sufferings were meant to save.
This Biblical study on how to pray for the persecuted church was submitted by a friend of Films for Christ, a pastor who prefers to remain anonymous.
More about persecution
Brother Andrew, a Dutchman whose real name is Anne van der Bijl, has always been a trailblazer. He made history during the early days of the Cold War when in 1955 he began “smuggling” Bibles into Communist Eastern Europe.
On the last day of his first trip, as he sat reading his Bible, he says that the Lord spoke to him through Revelation 3:2 to “strengthen what remains and is on the point of death.
” His delivery of one suitcase of Christian literature to the suffering church in Poland was the humble beginning of Open Doors with Brother Andrew, now an international ministry that brings literature and much-needed assistance to Christians living in difficult circumstances in 58 countries around the world.
Authors: First portion provided by Brother Andrew, founder of Open Doors, via Assist Communications, PO Box 2126, Garden Grove, CA 92842-2126, USA. Second portion provided by a friend of Films for Christ, a pastor who wishes to remain anonymous.
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