Praying for the Ill

Wednesday, August 3, 2011
I think I pray for the sick wrong.

It sounds wrong to say, because there shouldn't be a wrong way to pray for someone else. (Well, unless you don't pray at all.) I mean, aren't five word prayers of "God, help ______ get better." better than no prayers at all?

Well, yes.

But today Iv'e been challenged that a better way to pray exists.

I read this morning about some spiritual disciplines, and among those listed was "praying for the sick."

If praying for the sick is a spiritual practice I have to admit that I don't feel very spiritual doing it.

When praying for the sick I am almost always no where near them. I don't mean sick people are across the room, I mean they are across the town, or country, or world.

I don't have a lot of contact with sick people unless they come to church. Then I'm usually sitting there thinking, "Why on earth did they come to church this morning? They're going to get everyone else sick. If I get what they've got, I'm going to be some mad."

So I began to ask, what if praying for the sick really is a spiritual practice? And what if praying for the sick wasn't meant to look anything like the way I pray for the sick? What if prayer was supposed to look like something else?

I remember the very first hospital visit I went on. I was fresh out of college, but was totally clueless about what it meant to be a pastor.* I was working with a church and one day the pastor told me we were going to visit a man in the hospital. He was loosely connected to the church. He wasn't a regular attender. I don't even know if he tithed. But the pastor knew him and that was enough.

I don't remember his name. But oddly I remember that he had very bad pneumonia.** (Is there good pneumonia?)

And I remember one other thing. I was beyond awkward. He had weird wires connected to his chest. And tubes coming out of places I don't ever want to have tubes coming out of. I thought, "surely this guy wants to be left alone."

We didn't stay long, but we sat, chatted, and prayed.

All while he had an ECG done.

Before we left the pastor prayed for him.

I think this is the spiritual discipline of praying for the sick.

Praying for the sick will involve, on some level, knowing the person in their sickness: coming close, or in contact with the sick them, and walking with them through the sickness.

And, I hope this doesn't sound biased, you don't have to be a pastor to do this. I think this type of prayer is for every believe to practice. Ever believer has it in them to visit the sick, begin to know them in their illness and pray through it with them.

That doesn't mean I won't pray when I get those emails from people I barely know to pray for some person I've never heard of who has a disease I've never heard of. I'll pray then, but that prayer is a different prayer than one offered while holding the hand to the ill.

* I'm still very much clueless only I can confidently say that in these 11 years I've learned approximately 3 things about being a pastor.

**that's right spell checker had to help me with this one. To my delight I was only one letter off from spelling it correctly on the first try.


blackhawkover said...

Cough cough - stay at home.