Facing cancer through prayer

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In an interesting address to the members of the Italian Association of Medical Oncology (AIOM), given at the Clementine Hall on Monday 2 September 2019, Pope Francis said that cancer treatment must be personalized. His words reverberate wisdom and practicality too! He said:

This is how the oncology of precision, which you promote, also becomes an oncology of mercy, because the effort involved in personalizing care shows attention not only to the disease, but to the patient’s specificities, to the way in which he or she reacts to medications, to the most painful information, to suffering. This form of oncology goes beyond the implementation of protocols and demonstrates the employment of technology at the service of people.

Pope Francis’ speech is driving home an essential component in oncology, it is the patients’ needs that are first to be addressed not simply a cold procedure. If procedures are not warmed with humanity then what kind of procedures are they. On the same level we can also extend the argument by saying that spiritually would risk to become a routinely procedure if it is not animated by prayers that primarily address the patients’ needs. Here are some prayers which we shall be appreciating together in order to see how the patients’ needs are at the centre of prayer.

For those who are cancer patients prayers of healing really help us go through this ordeal. For instance let us appreciate this healing prayer. May God heal me, body and soul. May my pain cease, may my strength increase, may my fears be released, May blessings, love, and joy surround me. Amen.

Or:

Father, the Almighty, have mercy on your afflicted children. Bless them with your healing as they give it their best to survive cancer. They have suffered enough and yet, they remain optimistic of the future; their faith resolute. We, therefore, humbly ask for your protection and power of healing, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

In this challenging journey we can also pray to Our Father in Heaven to ease the pain for our loved one who is facing this ordeal. Father, with you nothing is impossible. You are God of all flesh; we love you and we are confident that no situation is too hard for you. We come to you on behalf of this dear one seeking healing from cancer. God, Jesus Christ has fully paid the price by the stripes He took; we therefore are asking that the devourer gets off from this child of yours in Jesus Mighty Name, Amen.

Prayer heals. How beautiful when one asks for a general healing for all those involved in the battle against cancer, starting from the family, friends and the multidisciplinary team. Father God, we humbly pray for all those who are fighting cancer. Give them the hope and courage they need each day. Comfort them in their pain and bless them with healing. Strengthen their family, friends, and caregivers. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The person himself and herself can pray a prayer of healing for himself and herself. Here is an example:

Lord of Heaven,

I rest underneath your mighty wings of love.

I dwell within your gentle heart.

I know there is healing in your touch.

Through the sufferings of Christ I can ask for restoration

And trust in your goodness.

You are my Lord, my Saviour,

My healer and my friend.

I dwell within your gentle embrace. Amen.

Example of other prayers the person can pray for himself and herself are: Dear Almighty Lord, Cover me with your sovereign hand. Kindly bring restoration and healing to my body. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Or:

Lord in Heaven,

I surrender myself to your love.

Your mercy is my safe haven.

I believe in your healing touch.

Through Jesus Christ I ask for you to mend my weakened body,

I pray that you reawaken my spirits, beaten by affliction.

I lay my body and soul;

And trust in your goodness.

You are my saviour, my healer, my God.

I live for your saving grace.

Or:

My God and my saviour, help me get through these tough times. Fortify my will to stay strong and optimistic. Touch me with your healing hands to ease the pain, And let me feel your divine presence for hope and strength. This cancer has taken its toll, body and mind. But your love and compassion hold greater power. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Discomfort and pain can creep in and challenge seriously one’s faith and trust in a God whom the Bible describes Him in the following terms: God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, (2 Cor 1:3-4). Thus, in this situation, a prayer to increase our faith and trust in the Lord is all the more welcome! Lord God, tt’s hard not to dwell on my discomfort and pain so help me get back my focus on you. Enlighten me and make me a faithful follower despite of my condition.
Help me put my hope in you. Walk closely beside me while I go through the process of healing and recovery. Remind me that nothing is impossible with your power. Moreover, help me stay faithful to you.
Amen.

Another prayer which resembles the previous one can be especially prayed when those who are fighting cancer experience fatigue and interior discouragement. Thus, it is important to ask the Lord for strength.

Lord, at the moment nothing seems to be able to help the loss I feel.

My heart is broken and my spirit mourns.

All I know is that Your grace is sufficient.

This day, this hour.

Moment by moment I choose to lean on You,

For when I am at my weakest Your strength is strongest.

I pour out my grief to You

And praise You that on one glorious day

When all suffering is extinguished and love has conquered

We shall walk together again. Amen.

Or:

May God nourish and strengthen my body to foster healing through His divine grace. May He alleviate my pain and bless me with encouragement, so that I have the courage and the will to surpass this plight. Amen.

Combatting cancer is a big endeavour indeed. Thus, it is important that we pray for those who cancer fighters to keep up the battle till the end. Heavenly Father, Give all cancer fighters comfort when they are in pain. Lay your healing hand on all and remove every cancer cell so that they may be healed! Amen.

Or:

Lord, let your light shine to those who suffer from cancer. With your almighty presence, heal their bodies and restore their spirits. Protect them with your loving embrace to ease their pain and drown out their fears. All this is possible by the grace of God. Amen.

Or:

God Almighty, bestow cancer patients with your love to comfort their weary body and spirit. As they struggle physically and mentally, give them the courage to fight even harder. We believe in you, dear God, your compassion, your mercy, and your immeasurable love; we pray to God the Father in the name of Jesus. Amen.

A very caring praying on our behalf for cancer patients is that they receive God’s consolation in what they are going through. Dear God, we sincerely pray for all those who are battling cancer. Instill fearlessness and hope into their hearts each day. Give them solace when in pain and ease their suffering. Bless their loved ones and caregivers with the strength to help them get through this difficult time. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Unfortunately, this patient can be a loved one. Even here there is a powerful prayer healing that can be done.

Dear God, I sincerely pray for my loved one who is going through a tough time with his disease. Bring the power of healing and restoration into his body. Fill him with your restorative spirit so that he may experience healing and wellness. Lord God, bless his doctors and nurses. Enlighten them and guide them as they do their job. Lend them your healing touch and use them as instruments to get my loved one through his illness. Amen.

It is also important that when praying for cancer patients we pray for physicians and nurses who are the frontliners in this battle. Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon your blessed name and we pray for your merciful heart to surround these with love, strength, and courage and we ask Your hands to touch them with the power of healing. May they be directed to the right treatment in Your blessed name as we ask You Lord to represent the physicians, nurses, and medical care aids and administer them in Your spirits. May every cancerous cell be cast out and replaced with good ones. May every spot of this deadly cell be wiped out by Your powerful hands. Amen.

Or:

Our God and our Father, we thank you for the knowledge and strength you have given us to help heal the sick. We couldn’t have done it without your guidance and your everlasting grace. May you continue to bless us with your divine healing; to show us the way. May our decisions and actions in curing the sick be a reflection of your glory and compassion. May every cancer cell in our patient’s body be defeated through your healing hands. We pray this in God’s name, Amen.

Mary’s intercessory prayer is very powerful because it is deeply rooted in the one perfect mediation of Christ, her Son. That is why the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church of the Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, explicitly says: There is but one Mediator as we know from the words of the apostle, “for there is one God and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a redemption for all”.(298) The maternal duty of Mary toward men in no wise obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows His power. For all the salvific influence of the Blessed Virgin on men originates, not from some inner necessity, but from the divine pleasure. It flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on His mediation, depends entirely on it and draws all its power from it. In no way does it impede, but rather does it foster the immediate union of the faithful with Christ (no.60). Thus, it would be wise and very beneficial if the above mentioned prayers would end by a Hail Mary.


Praying to the saints for their intercession is so powerful. The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives us a very sound explanation as to why this happens. In numbers 956 and 957 the Catechism says: Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness. . . . They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus . . . . So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped. Do not weep, for I shall be more useful to you after my death and I shall help you then more effectively than during my life (St. Dominic, dying, to his brothers). I want to spend my heaven in doing good on earth (St. Thérèse of Lisieux, The Final Conversations,). “It is not merely by the title of example that we cherish the memory of those in heaven; we seek, rather, that by this devotion to the exercise of fraternal charity the union of the whole Church in the Spirit may be strengthened. Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself”: We worship Christ as God’s Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord’s disciples and imitators, and rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their king and master. May we also be their companions and fellow disciples!  (Martyrium Polycarpi, 17:Apostolic Fathers).

Here are some brothers and sisters to whom we can resort to help us face the great turmoil of cancer.

To our brother St. Jude:

God of healing mercy, in Jesus your Son you stretch out your hand in compassion, restoring the sinner, healing the sick, and lifting up those bowed down. Embrace us now in your loving care, particularly those afflicted with cancer, for whom this intention is offered. May the Spirit of Jesus bring us all health in soul and body, that with joy and thanksgiving we may praise you for your goodness, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

To our brother St. Peregrine:

O great St. Peregrine, you have been called “The Mighty,” “The Wonder-Worker,” because of the numerous miracles which you have obtained from God for those who have had recourse to you.

For so many years you bore in your own flesh this cancerous disease that destroys the very fibre of our being, and who had recourse to the source of all grace when the power of man could do no more. You were favoured with the vision of Jesus coming down from His Cross to heal your affliction. Ask of God and Our Lady, the cure of the sick whom we entrust to you.
(Pause here and silently recall the names of the sick for whom you are praying)
Aided in this way by your powerful intercession, we shall sing to God, now and for all eternity, a song of gratitude for His great goodness and mercy.
Amen.

To our sister St. Agatha:

Oh St. Agatha, who withstood the unwelcome advances from unwanted suitors, and suffered pain and torture for her devotion to Our Lord, we celebrate your faith, dignity, and martyrdom. Protect us against rape and other violations, guard us against breast cancer and other afflictions of women, and inspire us to overcome adversity. Oh St. Agatha, virgin and martyr, mercifully grant that we who venerate your sacrifice, may receive your intercession. Amen.

It is true that being diagnosed with cancer is hard and it feels like being sentenced to death but, if we, patients, staff, family, relatives, friends and the entire People of God focus on the spiritual health, in conjunction with the physical and psychological well-being, then we battle and win holistically the cancer in, with and through Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit, and with the powerful and maternal intercession of Mary, Our Mother, the Angles and the Saints in Heaven! What a formidable help this is to have life and have it abundantly (see John 10:10)!

Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap