Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Clinical Use of Prayer, Part 2

Prayer of Personal Need

  • Positive Qualities
    • Some hospice patients have lost connection to the Divine.  The Chaplain, in bringing up the topic of prayer, may unearth resentment, anger, disappointment, or other spiritually based issues that prevent the patient from engaging in prayer.  Just the mere mention of prayer will open doors of discussion of faith and hope.  Of course, the Chaplain has to be skillful in how he/she introduces the subject.  When a relationship of trust has developed, I have found that most topics are open for discussion.  Keep in mind the words of John Chapman, “Pray as you can, not as you can’t.”  That is a comforting and encouraging message.
    • In educating the patient about Prayer of Personal Need, the Chaplain keeps things simple.  Think of your own theological training at the beginning of your faith journey.  God received us just as we were and He accepts our prayers just as they are.  The matter of prayer has been made exceptionally difficult when it needs to be made exceptionally simple.  For a patient at the end of life making prayer simple is a worthy goal.  The patient has a lifetime of spiritual disappointments and perhaps thinks prayer is too complicated.  Now is not the time to get all theological and difficult about prayer.  Prayer that is generated out of personal need does not concern itself with formalities, formulas, or worn out clichés; instead, it is pure in its cry of pain and sorrow seeking the intervention of a loving God for strength for not just the day, but for every minute in the day.  The seasoned hospice Chaplain will understand the last phrase of the sentence clearly.  The journey of the hospice patient can be very draining and dark.  Prayer of personal need can provide light for the weary soul.
    • Prayer of personal need simply starts by talking to God about what is happening.  The patient starts where she is and pours out her heart to God.  We talk a good bit about sacred space in hospice.  Through the Chaplain’s discussion with the patient about prayer, the patient’s room can become a cathedral of hope. 

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