Prayer with a Patient?

About a month ago, I posted a question to nurses and nursing students on social media. It raised a lot of interesting and diverse discussion. The question was:

[Tweet “”How do you feel when a patient asks you to pray with them? Is it comfortable or unnerving?””]

While most nurses responded saying it was something Pray with Patients? An Opportunity to Practice Nursing from Withinthat they were comfortable with, some did share honestly that they were not. However, the wonderful thing I heard from almost all of the nurses and nursing students was that even if it was not their favorite thing to do- they would do it. For the patient.

Here are some of the responses I received that showcased the patient really does come first for nurses:

  • “They are asking so it is comfortable.”
  • “As someone who never liked to pray in public, it can be uncomfortable but I still like to do it. It’s completes the holistic wheel. I ask if they have specific requests and this makes it easier for me.”
  • “I’m essentially an atheist but that has never stopped me from honoring my patient’s belief system. I can share a quiet contemplative moment with them meditating on the true meaning of existence as we know it to be.”
  • “I’m not religious, but I would bow my head and be with them if the patient were the one leading the prayer.”
  • “We do a lot of things for our patients to promote comfort and healing. If the patient wants me to pray for them, I will.”

Not a Praying Person… And Still a Nurse

As we read above, even if we are not the type to pray in our own personal lives… we can still be silent and respectful with the patient. If the prayer is going to help the patient calm down or feel better- then we can stand quietly for a few minutes, acknowledging their needs.

This is an excellent opportunity to practice Nursing from Within™. As a refresher, the four steps of Nursing from Within™ are:

  1. Pray with Patients? An Opportunity to Practice Nursing from WithinPresence. Get quiet. Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings- these influence how you will behave and/or react.
  2. Letting Go. Release any negativity. Let go of what does not serve you. This is your chance to shift perspective to looking for lessons, growing from challenges, or releasing old habits.
  3. Appreciate. When we let go of the negative stuff that is taking up space we are more free to focus on what’s working. Pay attention to strengths. Focus on the positive. What opportunity do you have to do something new, different, better, or good?
  4. Your Authentic Nurse. Let go of the bad. Focus on the good. Be your best self. In nursing we can get stuck in the trap of “not enough”. Using this four-step process can help you set and reach goals that are ideal for you and your dream career.

Comfortable with Peaceful Prayer

On the other hand, most of the nurses and nursing students who responded to the post on social media were in fact comfortable with praying with their patients… saying:

  • “Yes, always…and no discomfort. Prayer…meditation…no matter the belief…holistic care.”
  • “Very Comfortable!! Matter of fact- as a Nurse Leader- when doing my rounds and they ask… that makes my day. Regardless of their faith.”
  • “I love to be included. I always teach my students to be respectful no matter what religion. It’s a gift to be included.”
  • “I love it! It makes me feel so connected to my patients.”

So, I would love to hear more from you all reading. Have you been asked to pray with your patients? If so, are you comfortable with it? What has the experience been like- share a comment below and thanks for reading!

p1050390About the Author: Keynote speaker and virtual conference host, Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, partners with hospitals, nursing schools, and nurse associations to transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the host of the Nurse’s Week program, The Art of Nursing, Elizabeth supports nursing organizations in celebrating and recognizing their staff in a meaningful way. Elizabeth received her dual master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She is also a certified coach and Reiki Master Teacher. Elizabeth lives in Maryland with her supportive husband and playful pit bull.