In her book Darkness is My Only Companion chaplain and priest Kathryn Greene-McCreight shares her harrowing journey of faith and severe mental illness. It is a compelling read, not simply for the honest and real insight to her struggle but because of the hope that still eeks out on every page, even, if at times, in a mere trickle. In the book’s concluding chapters she comments on the importance of prayer throughout her journey – her own, but perhaps more significantly, the prayers of others for her.
I learned during these years to pray. It was not as if I had never prayed before. As with learning compassion, which I thought I already knew, I learned how to pray...Prayer from a mentally ill mind is exceedingly difficult. Not only is it hard to concentrate, a faculty necessary for prayer. It is actually painful to give thanks. Which means one has to try all the harder, or maybe not at all…
I knew from Scripture that to be faithful one has to hope in God and praise God, but how could I do that now? Not, certainly, on my own. I strapped myself to the prayers and praises of Israel, the Scriptures, and relied on the prayers of others, from ancient Israel to my present-day parish and family. We sometimes forget the importance of intercessory prayer, but we must remember that sometimes we may be praying for someone who simply cannot pray for themselves.
Who do you know that might need you to stand in the gap with prayer? However weak or inadequate you may feel, offering them the gift of your prayer is a Divine ministering and deeply precious.