For time immemorial, whenever Jews found themselves in difficult situations, whether individually or communally, they would open up the Book of Psalms and use King David's ageless poetic praises and supplications to beseech G‑d for mercy.
The Midrash tells us that when King David compiled the Psalms, he had in mind himself, as well as every Jew of every generation and every circumstance. No matter who you are and what the situation, the words of the Psalms speak the words of your heart and are heard On High.
The third Lubavitcher Rebbe once said that if we only knew the power of Psalms and the effects of its recitation, we would recite them constantly. "Know that the chapters of Psalms shatter all barriers, they ascend higher and still higher with no interference; they prostrate themselves in supplication before the Master of all worlds, and they effect and accomplish with kindness and compassion."
When praying for an individual who is ill, it is customary to recite the following thirty-six chapters of Psalms: 20, 6, 9, 13, 16, 17, 18, 22, 23, 28, 30, 31, 32, 33, 37, 38, 39, 41, 49, 55, 56, 69, 86, 88, 89, 90, 91, 102, 103, 104, 107, 116, 118, 142, 143, and 148.
After this, recite the stanzas from Psalm 119 that correspond to the letters of the ill individual's Jewish name(s). (Psalm 119 is an acrostic containing twenty-two stanzas, each stanza consisting of eight verses that begin with the same letter from the Hebrew alphabet. The first eight verses all start with the letter aleph, the next eight begin with bet, the next eight with gimel, etc.) E.g., if the person's name is Moshe (משה), recite the stanzas that begin with mem, shin, and hey. If the person's name is Rachel (רחל), recite the stanzas that begin with resh, chet and lamed. (If you need help determining the Hebrew spelling of a specific name, drop a line to our Ask the Rabbi personnel.)
Then recite the six stanzas that correspond to the words קרע שטן ("destroy the Prosecutor"): kuf, resh, ayin, shin, tet, and nun.
Below you will find these Psalms, in both Hebrew and English. And may G‑d hear our prayers and grant a speedy and complete recovery to all those who are ill.
Sharon, Aura bat Sima
New York City