Prayer for the Sick

Image: Waveform of a heartbeat, artwork by geralt via

I’ve been saying a prayer over and over since the end of September. As regular readers know, my brother was badly injured in an accident then, and I’ve been praying for him ever since. It’s a very simple prayer, and the beauty of it is that it coordinates well with breath, so with a little practice it is possible to say it almost continually.

It’s a very ancient prayer, recorded in the book of Numbers:

 וַיִּצְעַק מֹשֶׁה, אֶל-יְהוָה לֵאמֹר:  אֵל, נָא רְפָא נָא לָהּ.

And Moses cried out to the Eternal, saying: Please God, Please heal her. –Numbers 12:13

Moses was praying for his sister, Miriam. You can read the whole story in chapter 12 of the book.

I’ve been saying a modification of that prayer:

El nah, reh-fah na lo.

Please, God, please heal him.

If you wanted to say it for a woman, you could say:

El nah, reh-fah na lah.

Please, God, please heal her.

I say the prayer with my breath:

(on the inhale) El nah

(on the exhale) re-fah na lah.

We can say the prayer over and over as we continue to breathe.

What I love about this little prayer is that it expresses both the wish for healing and the urgency that we feel when someone we love is suffering.They are such beautiful, simple words that anyone can learn them.

Moses spoke directly from his heart, and gave us words we can use to speak from ours.

For those who have been following his story, my brother continues to improve. He is now at a rehabilitation hospital where he continues to travel towards wholeness.

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

3 thoughts on “Prayer for the Sick”

  1. It is wonderful news to hear that your brother continues to heal and improve Rabbi. Thank you for this prayer. I will use it for his behalf and save it for use for others who may, Heaven forbid, need it. Shalom.

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