Two pastors share their experiences with serious illness—and their candid, darkly humorous prayers for making it through.
Samantha Vincent-Alexander almost died from a septic leg infection. Elizabeth Felicetti underwent aggressive treatment for both breast and lung cancer in the space of a few months—and then the cancer came back. As Episcopal priests, they know well the typical prayers offered in times like these. But when you’re seriously sick, you need more than psalms and sentimentality.
You need to tell God how you really feel.
With vulnerability and wry humor, Felicetti and Vincent-Alexander share the prayers they wish they had when they were ill: thanksgiving for one-size-fits-all hospital underwear, curses against Tylenol, frustrated appeals when well-wishers call you brave or inspiring. At once faithful and brutally honest, these prayers offer readers a more candid way of communicating with the God who understands human suffering with an incarnational intimacy.
Talking to God when you’re fighting serious illness can feel impossible. But God can bear our doubt, anger, anxiety, and grief. This unconventional prayerbook helps readers access a deeper relationship with God in raw times—and offers them a place of solidarity and spiritual rest.
Table of Contents
Introduction One Sick Story: Breasts and Breath Another Sick Story: In the ICU with the Desert Mothers 1. Pain and Anger 2. Blood and Breath 3. Waiting, Wandering, and Wondering 4. Hospitals 5. Well-Wishers and Caregivers 6. Aftermath 7. Relapse Acknowledgments
Elizabeth Felicetti is the rector of St. David’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia, and the author of Unexpected Abundance: The Fruitful Lives of Women Without Children.
Samantha Vincent-Alexander is the rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Philadelphia and a coauthor of Grace in the Rearview Mirror.
“Prayers that emerge from pain, confusion, and life-threatening realities sound irreverent, even defiant. Yet in the paradoxical mystery of divine-human conversation, prayers prayed on these paths of misery become hallowed, precisely because they are not dressed up. Having suffered and prayed there too, Felicetti and Vincent-Alexander not only model what is possible and permitted in prayer, but also show how it is also authentic praise and petition. These prayers are for patients and families in acute pain and fear—body, mind, and spirit—as well as for those laboring in the trenches of medicine: nurses, doctors, surgeons, lab technicians, and office managers.” —Laura M. Fabrycky, author of Keys to Bonhoeffer’s Haus
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