What's in a prayer?

The nurse suspended for offering prayer had a big article on her in the "Mail on Sunday" today. I did write in support of the nurse in question as Christian rights are being eroded daily in the workplace and especially in areas like fostering, adoption and education. However, I think I would have liked to have known what the prayer was, what she was praying and how sensitive it would have been to the patient's needs. I have some reservations on reading that previously she had been giving out prayer cards with the 'prayer of salvation' on. For those of you who don't know what this is, it is saying "I am sorry for my sins ... please come into my life and be with me forever." I think I am not alone in thinking that a lot of people could be offended by being given one of these cards, myself included. Something along the lines of "I am thinking of you and praying for you' would have been nicer. It's assuming a kind of 'holier than thou' attitude which puts a lot of people off christianity and the 'I am saved' and everybody else is on the road to hell attitude that is common in a lot of charismatic evangelical circles. There is a certin smugness and self-righteousness about it that you don't see in Catholics who on the whole are much humbler personalities like Mother Angelica or Mother Theresa and who are more than capable of bringing their faith into their work but with a totally different attitude. Having been a care assistant it is quite possible to be a christian in a nursing environment by showing people respect and care that they often don't get from non-christians and taking time with people. By all means pray with someone if you know they are a christian and they would like prayer (I have been asked if I wanted prayer when in hospital and I was happy to have it). But also we need to respect other people's boundaries and know when not to overstep the mark. We should be able to combine our faith with our work just by our attitudes and by giving love and care for people without the need for self-aggrandisation or proselytising. Prayer should be a part of our daily life and we do need it in the world. The nurse says: "she will never impose her beliefs on anyone" but that is exactly what she was doing by the words on the cards and the initiative should always come from the patient and their family. She also said that "she cannot divorce her faith from her work" and that is how we all should be - but faith comes by doing small things with great love and honouring God in the daily work we do. There are dangers in this type of 'religious right-eousness". I would also think having worked with the NHS this long, as with councils, she should be well aware of the rules in regards to "equality and diversity" and it not to have come as too much of a surprise. There is nothing stopping anyone praying for their patients needs in the privacy of their own home; if prayer is powerful it can reach the ears of the one who needs to hear it and can answer it, God, - I have my own prayer list and regularly pray for people, christians and non-christians alike - but they don't need to know. All I need to know is that God listens to my prayers and can bless them.

"And whenever you pray, don't be like the hypocrites who love to stand in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they will be seen by people. I tell you with certainty, they have their full reward! But whenever you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees from the hidden place will reward you. Matthew 6:5,6
All we need to do is show love, kindness and compassion, concern and care.
I Corinthians 13:13 - And now abideth
faith, hope, charity, these three; but
the greatest of these is charity.
[N.B. The King James Version of the
Bible here uses the word 'charity' to
translate the Greek word 'agape',
elsewhere consistently translated
'love'.]

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