At times, I’ve been hesitant to pray for our members.  Even in the hospital, there doesn’t seem to be a time or place that is appropriate or convenient.  Do I interrupt family members to pray?  Do I insist on praying?  What about the awkwardness that is always present?  What if  the family members are not Christians?  Will my prayer offend them?  What if these are dedicated people of prayer?  Do they really need my feeble attempt at prayer?

A couple of weeks ago, I visited a Christian man who is dying.  His children, Special Gathering volunteers, had asked me to visit him in ICU.  I spent a few minutes.  As I was gathering my things to leave, one family member bluntly said, “You can’t leave before you pray.”  Even though my prayer was fumbling, short and abruptly to the point, the family hugged me and thanked me with such gracious warmth that I knew God had used the prayer to comfort them.  I was grateful.

After my husband’s extended time in the hospital, I’ve concluded that prayer can be some of the best medicine that the patient or family can receive.  Our children and grandchildren came to visit us for the holidays.  Honestly, gathering around my husband’s bedside was uncomfortable.  With all of us, there were eight people squeezed into the small space.  It was awkward and uncomfortable.  The other patient’s family was also there.  At times, there were two hospital beds with ten to 12 people smashed into a ten feet by ten feet area.  However, that didn’t stop my son-in-law, Rev. Brian Merritt from praying.  He never allowed us to leave Frank’s bedside without prayer. 

I cannot tell you how grateful I am for Brian’s boldness and for his sensitive prayers.  While I love both of my sons-in-law and appreciate their faithful and godly lives, Brian insistence on praying for Frank blessed me more than I can express.  And he taught me several good lessons.

First, his spoken prayer had added power to deliver and bless us.  I know that everyone in that room was praying for our husband, father and grandfather.  Yet, it was Brian’s spoken prayer that set me free from the burden of the hour. 

Second, prayer is always appropriate and usually welcome.  Of course, I never pray without first asking permission.  I simply say, “Before I leave, can I pray?”  Most of the families, who are involved or whose children are involved in our ministry, will welcome prayer as much as I did.  Additionally, I learned that my words are not as important as my acknowledgement of my desperate need for a healing, redemptive God.