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.   

[pp163-164]

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.

Comment