Notice I cropped out the name and avatar of the asker but not the compliment (cough, cough).
So the question at hand is: when someone says, “Pray for me,” and you’re Jewish… well, what does that actually mean? How do you actually do that? I’ll add my own question, just to stir the pot. What do you do with those group texts and Facebook posts to pray for people? Do you truly pray for them all? Do you forward them all as requested? How do handle all this in the digital age?
First things first. There are multiple “right” ways to pray in Judaism. All are predicated on obtaining the person’s Hebrew name. That formulation is [Hebrew name] + [ben (for male)/bat or bas (for female)] + [mother’s Hebrew name]. If any of these are unknown, just use the names you know, intending that God will understand who you mean.
That said, here are some options in terms of prayer, listed in order from “beginner” to “advanced”:
1. Say a short prayer in English in your own words, and when you mention the person’s name, use the formulation above.
2. Say a short formal prayer using the person’s Hebrew name as formulated above.
3. Say a chapter of Tehillim / Psalms (or more if so inclined) – which chapters to say are highlighted in the link – in either English or Hebrew (preferably in Hebrew, even if you don’t understand the words), and when you are done, do #1. Next step would be committing to saying a chapter each day for that person.
4. Do #3, but follow up with #2 instead of #1.
5. When praying the formal Amidah prayer, either at home or at synagogue, include the person’s Hebrew name in the paragraph about healing.
Now let’s talk about name management. Here’s what I do, personally.
I have a notepad app on my phone, and whenever I get a name to pray for I add it to my app. I also note who the person is and where I got the name from so I can follow up. Praying indefinitely for people I don’t know and am not being updated on is hard for me. I have learned to transfer the list to paper that I keep near my prayerbook because when I’m praying (as in #5) I don’t want my phone out to check the names.
Which names get added? People that have a connection to those I know personally, I add to my list. Other names, such as texts and Facebook posts, I say a quick prayer (see #2) or chapter of psalms (#3) for and move on. I don’t forward such requests unless I know the sick person myself. This may be wrong of me, but otherwise there’s no end.
How do you pray?