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Journal of Nursing

Nurse, please pray with me. 

Beth Hubbartt, RN, MSN, CRRN Clinical Nurse Specialist, Rehabilitation Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center Denise Corey, RN, BSN, CRRN Rehabilitation Unit Based Educator Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center Donald D. Kautz, RN, PhD, CNRN, CRRN Assistant Professor The University of North Carolina at Greensboro Bridgett Rasmussen, RN, BSN Graduate student The University of North Carolina at Greensboro [email protected]


Nurses may be asked by patients to pray with them or for them. Whether nurses should pray with patients has been a matter of longstanding controversy.  Yet decades of research show that many of our patients want nurses to pray with them (DiJoseph & Cavendish, 2005; Taylor, 2003). Prayer may benefit both the nurse and the patient; both may find comfort in prayer. Prayer may also help patients and their families adjust emotionally to their illness or life events and support the patients’ spiritual health.


Unfortunately, nurses may not know prayers of different faiths.  In this article, we offer practical prayers from different faith traditions for patients and nurses wanting to pray.


When a patient asks to pray, we recommend talking with patient’s to determine their prayer preference before starting to pray.  Some patients will want to pray silently.  Some patients will want the nurse to be present while they say a prayer out loud.  Others will want the nurse to lead them in prayer. Some will want to pray now, others may want the nurse to keep them in their prayers.


Short, Non-denominational Prayers


Sometimes a short prayer is the best. In her book, Traveling mercies: Some thoughts on faith (2000) Lamont argues that the two most common prayers are “Please, please, please…” and “Thank-you, Thank-you, Thank-you…”  Patients and nurses who wish can add “God” or “Lord” to the beginning of any of these prayers, or “In Jesus’ name we pray” to the end.  A calming prayer is “Calm my fears and anxieties as I go through this day.”  Some wish to say a prayer in the morning.  One is “This is another day, O Lord. I do not know what the day will bring, but help me be ready to face the day.” A similar prayer is “Please give me strength and courage to get through this day.” Or “Help me Lord to be loving and kind to all I meet today.”  A prayer for both the patient and nurse is “God of compassion, source of life and health, give strength and new abilities to __(insert name)__, and give your power of healing for those who minister to _(insert name)__ needs.”   One nurse was often asked by the prisoners she cared for to pray with them.  She has found that “Lord, please give _(insert name)_ what he/she needs today” is very calming.  Some say the prayer that never fails is, “Thy will be done.”


World Prayer Project


The World Prayer Project is a non-profit organization that collects prayers from different world traditions.  Prayers are grouped by religious tradition or by category. The “Invocation” category includes prayers of petition and healing.  Visiting this web site may bring peace and healing to nurses, as well as families and patients. While the organization does not publish prayers in the voice of nurses, there are many that speak broadly about healing. We have modified and shortened these prayers to make them more useful for busy practicing nurses.


The following prayer has not been modified.  Although it was written for those practicing the Islam faith, it is general enough that it can be said by anyone wishing to pray to God.


Islam healing prayer


Beloved Lord, Almighty God,
Through the Rays of the Sun,
Through the Waves of the Air,
Through the All Pervading Life in Space;
Purify and Revivify Us
And we pray, heal our bodies, hearts, and souls.
Amen 


We have shortened the following Navajo Indian prayer of healing obtained from the World Prayer Project (worldprayers.org).  This prayer can be used by those who believe in an Earth Mother, or are agnostic or atheist but still wish to take a moment to reflect on their place in the universe, and find peace in the beauty of the day as they begin or end their day.


      In the house made of dawn,


      On the trail of dawn,


      His feet, my feet, restore.


      His limbs, my limbs, restore


      His body, my body, restore


      His voice, my voice, restore,


      With beauty before him, with beauty before me.


      In the house of evening light,


      On the trail of evening light.


      Thank you for this day.


The following is a shortened Tibetan Buddhist Phowa Practice prayer (worldprayer.org) originally written for the care of the dying,. We have modified it so it can be used by any patient.

      Through your blessing, grace, and guidance,


      through the power of the light that streams from you:


      May all my negative karma, destructive emotions,


      Obscurations and blockages be purified and removed


      May I know myself forgiven


      for all the harm I may have thought and done.


      May I accomplish all that I need to today,


      And through the triumph of my disability,


      May I be able to benefit all other beings, living or dead.


An even shorter version of this prayer, which could be used by a person of any faith tradition, is the following,


      Through your blessing, grace, and guidance,


      please release me from my negative thoughts and destructive emotions.


      May I know myself forgiven for all the harm I may have thought and done.


      May I accomplish all that I need to today,


      and embrace my disability to the benefit of others.


The following is a shortened version of the Mi Sheberakh a traditional Jewish healing prayer obtained from the National Center for Jewish Healing (ncjh.org).


      May the one who blessed our ancestors ----


      Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah


      Bless and heal the one who is disabled and sick __(insert name)____


      May the holy Blessed One, overflow with compassion upon him\her


      To restore, to heal, to strengthen, to enliven __(insert name)___


      The One will send him\her speedily, healing of the soul and body.


      Let us all say; Amen.


The following blessing before surgery was obtained from the Catholic Health Association of the United States (chausa.org).  It can be modified for any procedure a patient is to undergo, and can be used by people of several faiths.


      “God of Health and Wholeness


      We gather this morning to pray


      For our dear friend (insert name)


      as we desire for him/her to be restored


      to the balance of good health


      We pray for a successful surgery and for the


      Medical Staff who will be working with him/her


      So that, he/she may fully recover,


      And return with renewed zeal


      To the daily life that we share.”


We have included one version of the “Our Father” or “Lord’s Prayer” and the “Serenity Prayer” as patients and nurses often take comfort in these prayers.


      Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name.


      Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.


      Give us this day, our daily bread.


      And forgive our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.


      Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.


      For Thine is the power, and the glory, forever, and ever.  Amen.
The serenity prayer may be comforting to those who are angry or anxious: “God grant me the courage to change the things I can, to accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.”


Prayers for Forgiveness


Patients may request a prayer for forgiveness, or a prayer to forgive someone else. Both the “Our Father” and the Buddist prayers in the preceding paragraphs ask for forgiveness.  The following short prayer also may be effective in helping a patient forgive someone else. “Lord, __(insert name)__ treated me badly, they __(briefly state what they did)__, and I forgive them.”  Encourage patients and families to say this prayer every time the wrong doing comes into their head.  They may find they are no longer obsessed with negative thoughts.


Prayers for Sleep and Pain Relief


The following prayer was written for patients who ask to pray to be released from pain: “Dear Lord, I am facing this pain situation and it makes it difficult to work towards recovery.  I don’t know what it takes to bear this pain.  Be near me in my time of weakness and pain. Give me the strength and courage to do what I need to do.  Help me believe I can find comfort and rest.  Thank you for your abundant grace.  Amen.”


The following can be said with patients who ask for a prayer to help them sleep. “Heavenly Father, grant __(insert name)__ the gift of sleep for the refreshing of _(insert name)__ body and soul.”


Prayer Prompts


Nurses can also personalize prayers for patients through the use of prayer prompts.  Joni Eareckson Tada (2008) offers prayer prompts, which we have modified for nurses to use with patients who are overwhelmed by their current situation.


      Lord, __(insert name)__ is facing __(describe the situation)___


Trying to handle this alone makes _(insert name)__ feel overwhelmed (express fears/weaknesses)


Give __(insert name)___ your strength, joy, patience, and wisdom to face __(the situation)__


      Thank you, God for the abundant grace You provide for __(insert name)__.  Amen


Nurses may be asked by patients to pray with them or for them. Whether nurses should pray with patients has been a matter of longstanding controversy.  Yet decades of research show that many of our patients want nurses to pray with them (DiJoseph & Cavendish, 2005; Taylor, 2003). Prayer may benefit both the nurse and the patient; both may find comfort in prayer. Prayer may also help patients and their families adjust emotionally to their illness or life events and support the patients’ spiritual health.


Unfortunately, nurses may not know prayers of different faiths.  In this article, we offer practical prayers from different faith traditions for patients and nurses wanting to pray.


When a patient asks to pray, we recommend talking with patient’s to determine their prayer preference before starting to pray.  Some patients will want to pray silently.  Some patients will want the nurse to be present while they say a prayer out loud.  Others will want the nurse to lead them in prayer. Some will want to pray now, others may want the nurse to keep them in their prayers.


Conclusion


Regardless of the faith tradition or practices of the patient, family, or nurse; the moments taken to pray may provide comfort and renewal for all present.  We encourage you to adapt these prayers and take the time to pray today.


References


DiJoseph, J., Cavendish, R. (2005). Expanding the dialogue on prayer relevant to holistic care.


Holistic Nursing Practice, 19, 147-154.


Eareckson-Tada, J. (2008). Borrowing God’s smile. Discipleship Journal, 28 (5), 32-37.


Lamont, A. (2000). Traveling mercies: some thoughts on faith.  New York: Anchor.


Taylor, E.J. (2003). Prayer’s clinical issues and implications. Holistic Nursing Practice, 17, 179-188.


Regardless of the faith tradition or practices of the patient, family, or nurse; the moments taken to pray may provide comfort and renewal for all present.  We encourage you to adapt these prayers and take the time to pray today.


References


DiJoseph, J., Cavendish, R. (2005). Expanding the dialogue on prayer relevant to holistic care.


Holistic Nursing Practice, 19, 147-154.


Eareckson-Tada, J. (2008). Borrowing God’s smile. Discipleship Journal, 28 (5), 32-37.


Lamont, A. (2000). Traveling mercies: some thoughts on faith.  New York: Anchor.


Taylor, E.J. (2003). Prayer’s clinical issues and implications. Holistic Nursing Practice, 17, 179-188.



The authors acknowledge the editorial assistance of Ms. Elizabeth Tornquist, and the assistance of Ms. Dawn Wyrick with this manuscript.


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