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Reality Unscripted
Prayer and Nursing?

I was sitting with my daughter at Mayo Clinic, a large medical complex in Rochester, Minnesota, and considered to be one of the leading medical research institutions in North America. It's the place to be if you've exhausted all other options.

While waiting for our next appointment, we grabbed lunch at a cafe. A friend back home had told me that a mutual acquaintance would be having tests done at Mayo that same week. I had no way to get hold of the woman while she was at Mayo, but I really wanted the chance to bump into her. Before I started my pizza, I prayed that I would run into her. God would have to figure it out.

When I opened my eyes and glanced out the window, I saw my friend and her husband.

I kid you not. The "Amen" was still on my lips.

You may chalk this up to coincidence, but as a person of faith, I don't: in my view of the world, God answers prayer. Of course, it doesn't often happen this quickly, and it may not be with the answer I'm hoping for.

Why would I write about this in a blog, you ask?

Because as nurses, we sometimes find ourselves at the very end of what we have to offer. As "doers" that is about as bad a feeling as you can have. When you just don't know what else to do, try praying. If you think it's just a bunch of crap or a crutch only weak people use, fine. Think of this as a dare. I challenge you to give it a chance the next time you think you've done all you can for a patient.

Sometimes the prayer will be for healing, but not always. Sometimes it's just for peace (for the patient and /or you). Maybe it will be for the right words to say, or wisdom about whether to call the doc. I actually spent one shift praying a six-month-old would die. I believed she would be much better off in Heaven than in the PICU being treated like a science project. It took two weeks for that prayer to be answered.

As it turns out, I was able to put my friend in touch with a great doctor at Mayo. His specialty is treating exactly what her problem is--and he happens to be my brother-in-law. He was just the guy she needed. She's seeing him tomorrow even though he's booked through March. You can bet she believes in prayer!

And you?

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14 Responses to “Prayer and Nursing?”

  1. atexasflower84 Says:

    I think the opportunity to pray for and with our patients (should they request or be open to it) is just one more way that nursing can be a wonderfully selfless and human experience. As nurses we are called to foster holistic health in our patients, including the spiritual aspect of the person. Being able to touch the lives of others and have my life touched in turn is one reason I chose this occupation.

    Thanks for the Blog!

  2. Kim Says:

    I agree, and also think prayer can also be used ahead of time – to prepare yourself for dealing with the challenges that the day might bring and to help re-focus yourself in times of stress to see the bigger picture. Thanks for the reminder to pray more often!

  3. natasha Says:

    The power of prayer is very important in the practice of nursing in my opinion. Sometimes just being able to be present with a patient or family member in prayer is what is really needed.

  4. Damaris81 Says:

    I couldn’t agree more 🙂

  5. Ashley Says:

    I also agree. If the Patient is open to prayer, we as their nurses and advocates ought to hlep them in any way we can, including to pray with them! Pryaing for a patient certainly won’t hurt them and it may be just what they need to lift their spirits!

  6. Michelle Garrett Says:

    I agree with the rest of the people who commented. Also – it shouldn’t be forgotten that it is a touchy subject with some people. Even if you don’t personally believe or pray- why couldn’t you just hold the person’s hand and wait silently while they pray?

  7. Ashley Nicholson Says:

    I completely believe in prayer and I a firm believer that it works. Boy does it get hard sometimes. I know that God will help me in my times of need. I am just scared that what he has for me is not what I am so desperately praying for.

  8. capflash Says:

    Prayer to Whom and for what purpose? It is important to recognize that our Creator is not a magic genie that will answer every prayer with a ‘yes’. Just because one might think think it is in a client’s best interest to die, God might have other miraculous plans for that individual. Maybe that client’s suffereing is to help others to learn the lessons God has assigned us for this life.
    I agree that prayer is the most excellent tool a nurse has in her /his goodie bag, but it should always be the first tool used, not a last resort.
    With the utmost respect to those with differing beliefs, if the Truth be told, the prayer is only valid if you believe God is your Father and Jesus is the mediator of that prayer. Christianity is an exclusionary religion and although I absolutely respect others’ rights to their beliefs, I make no apology for saying there is only one Truth and that is God’s.

  9. Archbishop_Anselm Says:

    @ Capflash,
    While your intentions might be good, it seems you miss the mark with your comment. I think the point of the article was to speak of prayer in nursing, not to pontificate on the particularities of Western Christian non-traditional evangelical American prayer. While that has its place in its proper discussion, it seems wholly out of place here.

    Further, since no one can fully know God’s mind and therefore speak for him, it seems strange that you would even try to speak authoritatively on such a complex and diverse subject as prayer, especially in regards to another human life.

    In the words of St. Clement of Alexandria: “All truth is God’s Truth”

  10. Rachel Says:

    I just cared for a patient of a completely different religion but I prayed for them, with them, out loud in a conversation. God is everywhere and He knows how best to be there for them and as very spiritual people they needed spirituality regardless that I looked different and I worshiped differently, they appreciated my effort and praise for the patient’s life and praise that the patient goes on to a better place more then anything as their loved one left the earth. Prayer does not have to be conventional head bowed prayer, this was a smile and a praiseful conversation, and a loving hug.

  11. Kathryn Says:

    Capflash, I could not agree with you more. God is my Father and Jesus died on the cross to save me from my sins. I use prayer at the beginning of every procedure that I do. I ask God to use me in my patient’s lives–to be the example that God wants me to be.

    And to you, Archbishop, with all do respect, I believe you are the one who is missing the point. Capflash was not trying to be God or read His mind, he was simply conveying what God has outlined in the Bible–His Word.

  12. cohen312 Says:


  13. lonestar_ravenwolf Says:

    Hmm, point proven that prayer can be a sensitive area for our patients – as it seems to be for us nurses.

    I think the original post and most of the others have pointed to the importance of spirituality. As humans we are spiritual creations. Many people approach God from paths different than ours. But, I believe (as many religions preach) that our Creator created each one of us. Therefore, prayer – a lifting of our minds and hearts to God – is effective for each one of us.

    Whether in our prayer to be whole, meaningful, and effective through our role as nurse or in our prayer with/for our patients for peace and a positive outcome (not necessarily the same as being medically cured).

    While I fully believe God’s will is for all people to draw close to Him through the Faith He gave to us, it’s not for me to limit the way that happens, or to put boundaries on His loving mercy. I could not therefore insist on only one way to approach Him in prayer. I hope I have many opportunities to be present to my patients through prayer.

    We are blessed to be able to bring comfort or healing to the sick.

  14. Christian Polinag Says:

    i just rememebered last night while doing bed side care to a patient who had stoke the relative asked me how was her husband doing…i just looked to the wife’s eyes and told her to pray…sometimes, simple words are more meaningful than extensive explanations..I Love this’s like someone’s got my back !!God Bless!!!

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