Nov 24, 2009

Praying & Partners

One problem we face when we decide to pray for our patients is the comfort level of our co-workers with prayer. In this post I'd like to address pre-hospital EMS partners, but the concept applies to other partnerships as well. What we do and how we are perceived can affect how people see our partner. The person we spend 24 hours with has a right to expect certain things from us. I cringe when I have to work with a partner who is immature. They inevitably say or do something that makes us both look stupid. There’s a lot of ‘guilt by association’ in EMS. We need to be respectful of work partnerships.

There are a couple of things you can do to make the road a little smoother. One is to have an open discussion with your partner about your desire to pray for patients. But do your homework first. Anticipate the objections they might bring up and have good answers to their questions. Be considerate of your partner’s feelings and give them time to think about it. Don’t be pushy.

Know why you want to pray for patients. Is your motive more about evangelism than healing? This won't go over well with some people. Prayer leads people to think about religion. Mixing religion and work makes people uncomfortable. I try to keep the focus on healing and not religion. I keep my speech as secular as possible. That takes some deliberate thinking and avoiding words common to our religious language of 'Christianese'.

Give some thought to how you might approach patients to ask them about prayer. Consider the fact that some will say no, and how you’ll handle this. Consider the flow of patient care – some calls are too fast-paced to allow a lot of time for prayer. You don't want to delay treatment for prayer - that's negligence. Think about when might be the best time to ask patients about it.

If you work for an employer that has a lot of turnover, you might have the opportunity to change partners. Recruiting someone you know who is open to prayer can be helpful, but it didn’t work for me. I had a couple of partners who were cool with me praying for patients. Then we had a couple of system re-bids and I lost them. I tried to recruit a ‘prayer-friendly’ partner both times, to no avail. In the end, God’s plan prevailed and he hooked me up with the perfect partner. But it didn’t happen until I had already decided to pray for my patients. That’s worth thinking about.

Once you make the decision to pray for your patients, expect things to change. You’ll get a lot of positive feedback – your partner might like it, even if they aren’t sold on prayer at first. People will eventually be healed. Your partner might be thrilled at this. It might happen the first time you pray, it might take a week or a few months. In many cases, you won’t know what the result is. If people find out you’re praying for patients, and it goes well, other believers may follow your lead. It might even become a normal thing where you work.

I’d encourage you to step out in faith. God wants to heal your patients. Work out a reasonable agreement with your partner and watch what God does.