Forms of Prayer: Conversation 7
I was recently asked to include the name of a woman who was hit by a car in my prayers. Because someone had recently asked whether prayers for a total stranger are effective, I asked the person to tell me something about the accident victim – this was my way of teaching that you at least attempt to form a connection with the person for whom you are praying. I also asked her how she was praying for the woman.
The response was: “I thought about what you said or wrote once, that instead of kvetching, we can just tell Hashem: You’re supposed to be the Healer, so go on and do your job! so I tried to do some of that, and also trying to rejoice when saying for example “meayin yavoh ezri? Ezri Meim Hashem!”.
There are many good things one could say about this person: she is very sensitive, kind, sweet, discreet… she used to be a great violinist in Israel and then dropped her career to become chozeret betshuvah.
She had a cerebral hemorrhage because of the accident and had surgery. The doctors fear that there has been damage to her brain, although at this point, nothing is really sure.” (By the way, in her search for information about the accident victim, she discovered that she had not sent the proper name!)
I then asked if she were praying that there be no brain damage. She answered, “Yes. I am praying that there be no damage to her brain.”
I was, shockingly, a little harsh, and pointed out that the Talmud would consider her prayer as wasted and empty: Either there was brain damage or there was not. We do not pray that the facts are not what we desire. We do not pray after a test that we answered everything correctly: either we did or did not. We do not pray that God change the answers I already wrote.
My correspondent replied that she would pray that if there had been brain damage that God would repair it and quickly heal her.
Which important lessons can we learn from this story about praying for one who is ill?