Healing Prayers

Andrew Sullivan —  May 6 2012 @ 8:47am


Ashley Makar, who has been diagnosed with cancer, contemplates prayer:

I don’t think I believe my prayers will do a thing to help Sudanese refugees get home, through conflict zones and rainy seasons. I don’t think I believe my prayers for psychiatric patients will diminish their post-traumatic stress, their paranoid psychosis, their fears of life inside and outside locked wards.

But I believe in the healing power of prayer. I can feel the anonymous prayers of strangers in the shawls around my shoulders. I can feel the morning prayers of my friend’s mother, also living with cancer, buoying me up to embrace each day and celebrate life. I can already feel the unction of last rites—the repose that lets you rest, and die, when you need to.