Youâ€™re having coffee after the worship service on a Sunday. You say â€śHi!â€ť to someone you know, ask how are you, whatâ€™s up, and you catch up on this and that. And then, just as youâ€™re finishing, your conversation partner takes hold of your forearm, and her tone changes. â€śSay a prayer for my dad, will you? Heâ€™s not himself, the dementiaâ€™s really kicking in, and I feel like heâ€™s losing his identity inch by unrelenting inch.â€ť And you look into your friendâ€™s eyes and see the cost of whatâ€™s required to keep going, and you say, â€śIâ€™m so sorry. This must be such a bewildering time for you. Of course Iâ€™ll pray for your dad. And Iâ€™ll pray for you too.â€ť
But then youâ€™ve made a promise. A promise you have to keep. How exactly do you pray for a person in such a situation? What words can you find to wrap around this kind of long, slow-burning tragedy, in which lives and souls unravel and thereâ€™s no sign of the dawn?