Q. I am a spiritual person and believe that prayer works. My 94-year-old aunt now has bladder cancer. How can I use the power of prayer to help her and my cousins?

A.

Prayer can be a wonderful way to be helpful to others. It is not even necessary to believe in God or a Higher Power to pray. Buddhists, for instance, do not believe in God according to the Western understanding of a divine being, but they pray nevertheless. You can think of prayer in its simplest form as sending out positive energy into the universe. Where this energy goes or what it does is more a matter of mystery than of science and is a topic of much debate. However, prayer considered as a form of complementary therapy certainly does not hurt and may be beneficial.

Praying for someone can be a way to help at times when it may appear that there is little you can do. You can pray for the person with cancer, for those who are caregivers (such as your cousins), and even for the doctors who are providing the treatment. Prayer can be very powerful on many levels — emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual — both for the person who is praying and the person for whom the prayers are offered.

Prayer can be done individually or in groups. Via the telephone or internet, requests for prayer can be sent to many people. Receiving prayers, whether on a local, national or even global scale, can be a great source of comfort and support.

Here are a few suggestions regarding the use of prayer:

  • Be easy on yourself; there is no “right” way to pray. Prayer is a very personal experience, so be honest and let it be your own.
  • You might not feel like praying and that’s okay. There might be other times you will feel like doing so.
  • Prayer can also be symbolic – examples may include going to a sacred place, touching a memorable object, or looking at a photograph.