Friday, April 13, 2012

Prayer for Hire

I went to see a patient today who was dying of Gastric cancer, stage 4. Her daughter asked me to pray for the patient because she is now delirious and incoherent with her BP going down. The attending physician said the patient's prognosis is not too good. Part of the pastoral care was to intercede in prayer for the patient and her family. So, I asked the daughter and the sister of the patient what was their prayer request? The patient's daughter simply said, "just do your thing and pray."

At the back of my head, I was reflecting on what those words meant? What did she mean by that? She called mo to intercede, to pray WITH them in their difficult time but it turned out prayer was just "MY" thing. Yes, not "THEIR" not even "OUR" but "MY" thing. Was it because people do not know how to pray anymore or people do not want to pray? No, I think it was because people no longer see praying as part of their task as Christians. Praying now has become the thing only for those providing "spiritual care." People see praying as a task reserved only for the "religious workers." It seems prayers today are for hire.

Of course, prayer can be a complex thing. Just grab a book that talks about the theology of prayer and you wonder how can a simple conversation with God can become so complicated. But it is never difficult to pray. A heart that genuinely talks to God is in prayer. No matter what talk.

I called the daughter to come close. I asked her again, "do you want to pray to God and ask that God will comfort your mother especially in her pain?" She said, "Yes." I asked the daughter to come closer and hold her mother's hand. I said, "God heard your prayer and is comforting your Mom through your hands."

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