Prayer: A Privelege and a Necessity
Praying with others - bringing praises and concerns together to our God, who delights in hearing from us - is a privilege and a necessity for Christians working in health care. Sensing a nudge from the Holy Spirit to pray with someone is a holy and yet frightening experience. Self-doubts enter our minds: “What if this person does not want to pray?” “What if I don’t have any Words to say?” “Is it really okay to pray with someone over the phone?” Sometimes - trusting God to give us the words - we have prayed with patients and co-workers and seen God at work despite our feeble efforts. The following are just two of many m stories of God working in and through unworthy and yet willing participants in his work here at the Lawndale Christian Health Center in Chicago:
It was the final phone call on Friday evening, the end of an eight-hour shift of perpetual telephone triage. I hurriedly answered the phone and listened as the patient reported her chief complaint. She was a woman in her mid-thirties with numerous chronic illnesses, calling due to an exacerbation of one of them. As I was listening to her, I soon realized that she needed to go to the ER for further evaluation and treatment. I explained this to her, but she had many barriers to following through on these instructions, mainly related to childcare and transportation. I strongly urged her to go to the hospital, and at the same time felt nudged by the Holy Spirit to pray with this woman. I cannot recall what I said, but somehow God gave me the words to speak, and at that moment we were connected. It did not matter that I was praying on the phone for a woman I had never met. God gave her the blessing of a “peace that transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) through the prayer of a nurse who was exhausted yet open to God’s voice. The following week, I learned from this woman’s primary-care provider that she had died at home in her sleep a few days after she was discharged from the hospital. This experience still stands out in my mind a year later, and God has continued to remind me to listen for his voice.
I was sitting in the nurse triage office when I heard a knock on the door. A Woman in her early twenties entered and began to tell me her reasons for being there that day. She had come to the clinic to get her HIV results. I listened as she shared her story of an ex-boyfriend who was now believed to be HIV positive and a one-year old son whom she desperately wanted to see grow into an adult. She had many goals for her fixture, including attending nursing school. She mentionedwanting God to give her a chance to live, to provide for her son, and to raise him well. I felt God urging me to ask her to pray with me, and though I didn’t know exactly what to say, I asked her and she said yes. As we were praying, I again felt God nudging me, this time to pray that her test came back negative. I thought, God, I can’t do that! What if it comes back positive? Should I really be praying for something so definite? But again I felt God telling me to pray for this. So after putting it off for a few minutes, I finally did. She went to talk with the HIV counselor and in a few minutes came back to my office a different person—jumping up and down, grinning ear to ear, overjoyed that she had not contracted the HIV virus! She embraced me (still jumping up and down), thanking God out loud for giving her the gift of a healthy life. I left work that day praising God. Praying with this patient was a struggle, and yet I knew that God’s work in her was not dependent on me. God gave me the privilege that day to be a part of the work that God was already doing in this woman’s life.
When people ask us what it’s like to work at an urban Christian clinic, we could share many other stories. But what we remember most about our busy days is having the opportunity and honor to walk alongside our patients and coworkers as we journey through life’s joys and sorrows. Our faith has been stretched and strengthened as we pray and then see God working in the lives of those around us.
Amelia Vallet, RN, BSN Works as a clinic nurse at Lawndale Christian Health Center. ameliavallet [at] 1awndale [dot] org. Renee Lick, RN, BSN works PRN as a clinic nurse at Lawndalc Christian Health Center and full-time with Nurses Christian Fellowship/InterVarsity serving as campus ministry staff with nursing students in the Chicago area. nurserenee1 [at] yahoo [dot] com. Each contributed one of the accounts.