The Praying Nurse

One of the news items this week relating to life and faith was the story about the nurse who was suspended by the NHS after she offered to pray over a patient. It’s a tricky and sensitive issue; I strongly disagree with the notion of thrusting your faith upon someone else, especially at an institutionalized level. Christians working for the NHS and in Schools need be careful. You can’t “force” or “push” anyone into Heaven anyway. But if you believe in the healing power of prayer, as the nurse presumably did, then not only is praying over the patient an option it could be a duty.

Many secular-minded friends of mine appreciate it when I tell them that I would pray over them knowing that they were facing some illness or some trial in life. In fact, some go out of their way to ask me to pray for them. This is slightly bizarre and what exactly spurs them to ask for a prayer is not clear, with some of them I guess it’s no more than superstition. But even if they come at it from a superstitious angle that does not nullify my prayer before God. I believe my prayer is heard and acted upon by God wether the possible recipient of any blessing which the answer to the prayer will bring actually believes in God and prayer or not. If I were a doctor or a nurse I hope I would pray almost continually over my patients – and if I happened to have a certain Richard Dawkins ill on my ward then I’d pray more over him then anyone else, but quietly perhaps.

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3 Responses to “The Praying Nurse”

  1. Cliff Martin Says:

    I have a skeptic friend who told me of a fellow atheist who spoke at a convention of atheists. He spoke of his personal struggle with his wife’s cancer. (My wife also has cancer, hence my friend related this story.) The atheist told of how he often prayed as he helplessly watched his wife decline. He related his view that this reaching out for someone, something to offer aid and comfort seems to be a universal human trait, one to which atheists are not immune. What was amazing was that, when he finished, the audience erupted into unrestrained applause! And equally amazing that my atheist friend should relate the story to me. This last weekend, after a two hour long friendly discussion with another atheist about belief, and about God, I asked him if I could pray for him, and he was more than willing.

    When we let down our guard, and stop treating atheists as “the enemy”, meaningful communication actually begins to happen!

  2. welshwilderness Says:

    Thanks for the post Cliff. The Welsh translation of “conscience” is “cydwybod” which, translated literally back to English means “joint knowledge”; a joint knowledge, a collaboration if you like, between yourself and God. So as you suggest I think all of us, atheists included, possess a natural knowledge of God, theologians call it “natural theology” I think, although the sinful heart does not acknowledge it without Jesus’s revelation.

  3. Cliff Martin Says:

    Fascinating. And though I’d never dream of using insights like these as “ammunition” against atheists, understanding the truly conflicted nature of skepticism can help us to relate to our skeptical friends. I find that being transparent about my own doubts also opens doors to skeptical hearts. Certitude is often the enemy of communication.

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