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.