Saturday, October 29, 2011

A little prayer goes a long way!

Driving into work this morning I was admiring the last of the leaves remaining on the trees, realizing that the storm that was headed our way would most likely end the leaf peeping season. My high beams caught shining orange, yellow and red leafs that lined the road way and dangled loosely from outstretched branches.   I thanked God for the beauty that I was able to see on my way to and from work every day…every season.  Right now my commute begins in the dark and ends in the dark!  The amazing part is right now my commute takes me 30 min and at this time of year I get to see the glorious pink and orange sunrise as it peeks up over the trees and water…it is amazing!!  I thanked God numerous times for the beauty that he allowed me to see this morning~ and I felt such a peace and comfort knowing that he heard me!
I do not want to climb on a religious soap box here but I do want to talk about the power of prayer and the effect it has on our patients.  As a Christian I know first -hand the power of prayer in my own life.  I have prayed for miracles and seen them done.  I have prayed for peace and it was delivered.  I have prayed for wisdom, knowledge and guidance and seen the answers. I could go on and on about how prayer has blessed my life.  God uses prayer as a communication tool to him.  We can use prayer as a tool in our arsenal of patient care.
In my nursing research class last semester I did a paper on the healing aspects of prayer in patient care.  The research was qualitative in nature of course but there was also some very quantitative findings as well.  There were several studies that I looked at 1. The patient being prayed for by another, either out loud or silently and 2. the patient doing the praying.  Patient’s vital signs, visual signs of stress/pain were noted and a pre and post prayer session pain scale was used to monitor the effects.
The findings were that if the patients believed in prayer it didn’t matter if they were praying or if another person was praying for them, they felt less anxious, had less pain and vitals decreased….both during and after the prayer. If the person didn’t believe in the power of prayer but accepted the prayers of another there vitals showed a decrease and they also stated less pain but not less anxiety.
Doctors and nurses alike who took part in these studies were profoundly effected as they realized the spiritual nature of each patient and that there are times when prayer works better than the pain meds we so readily push!
I bring this up to just get you thinking…what tools are at your disposal for better patient care. You may not want to pray with someone yourself but you can always ask if they want it and find a clergy or another nurse who would be willing.  I pray for my patients as I care for them all the time, usually in my head as I’m doing my tasks but I have had the amazing privilege of praying for them physically as well.
Prayer is free, it doesn’t take a lot of time, it gets you to focus on the need of your patient in a way that you might not otherwise see, it benefits you just as much as it benefits your patient, the patient feels cared for and cared about as a whole person BODY MIND and SPIRIT… isn’t that what we all want?


  1. I guess I never really thought much about praying with a patient. I have never been asked if I would pray with or for someone. I think that to some people it would mean a lot to them. It not only shows that we care about their physical being, but also about their soul. Each day before we start the refugee clinic the staff takes 15 minutes to find out what is going on with each other and then we pray to God to provide us with the tools to care for our patients, both physically and emotionally.
    Most patients would not ask us to pray as they may think they are offending us. There is a lot of that in the United States lately, everyone is afraid that they will “offend” someone else by any reference to religion. So I guess it is up to us to just take a minute to ask. Taking the time to ask someone, “could I pray with/for you” not only shows that we care about them as a person of God but it affords us the time to really look at them and possibly touch them both physically and emotionally, to show that we are not just there to do a job, but because we love what we do. The time it takes to say a few prayers for someone also provides us the time to maybe hold their hand and offer reassurance. Do you know how many (mostly elderly and emotionally disturbed) that never have anyone physically touch them except to do a procedure, how lonely they must be? They tell us that babies need physical touching in order to grow and become loving adults; I think it is a need throughout our life time, but I guess that is a subject for another time.
    Today I had the opportunity to put this thought to good use, imagine being all by yourself and having no one that cares about you, to have a stranger take your hand and hold it and ask if they can pray with you. Then they give you a hug, probably the only one you have had in years. This brings us both to tears, but we both know that they are tears of joy as we know that not only does this nurse care about you God loves and cares about you too. Maybe this will bring enough comfort to give you some happiness for today.
    I know that I will use this more often now.

  2. Thank you for sharing that Geneva! You are absolutly right... What a gift it is to give to our patients~~ and we also recieve a gift as well :) I pray on the way to work for God to use me, to help me make the right decisions and to give me the knowledge I need for every situation that arises..then I pray while I start the IV, and then again when there is a patient or family that is hard to be around... and I pray that I will know when someone wants prayer... I feel that God nudges me and I just know the person wants prayer...I ask and they always say yes! I agree with you that many elderly and mentally ill people do not get physical touch as often as is needed for good health...and a hand hold during a heart felt prayer is such an amazing gift!! I have never been on the politically correct bus so why start now!! I miss you friend.