By Norris Burkes Dec 31 2023
Before my retirement as a healthcare chaplain, I was privileged to hear the prayers of patients who were hurting, sick and discouraged. They were heavenly appeals that I wanted to share with you, but patient privacy prevented that.
However, in many cases, patient families recorded their prayers in the public journal of our hospital chapel. The journal was a spiral notebook on the altar where visitors wrote anonymous requests.
I recently rediscovered some of those requests that I feel comfortable sharing with you now.
As you read these collected prayers, I encourage you to do two things. First, recall similar situations where God answered your prayers and granted his grace. Second, I ask you to offer your own prayer for these writers.
Some of the prayers are simple one-liners, like the short prayer of a child asking, “Lord, help me to be a football player.” But most are deeply moving entreaties searching for healing, acceptance and understanding.
One of the writers was earnestly searching for meaning:
“God, or whoever,
“I don’t know if there is a Creator/God. I only know that my day to leave this life will come. I just hope that the memories of my mother and father will be with me just like my parents were with me the day I was born. If there is a Creator/God, he/she will know that I tried to live my life with a clean heart.”
Some of the petitioners, like this one, were clearly scared:
“I need your guidance now. I don’t have my mom anymore, so my dad and I are lost. My son and his wife have a sick baby girl. I need you to help us. Please hold my family tight. I love you, dear Father.
“In the name of the Father and Holy Spirit.”
Other prayers showed a struggle that no one wants to face:
“Mom’s accident crossed your desk and you approved it. Now we have to turn off the ventilator. It’s the hardest decision this family has ever made. My sister is hanging on with vain hope. Please help her see the truth and let mom go.
“Mom is your child, Lord. I know she has a mansion waiting for her. The rest of us have peace about letting her go. Please pass that peace on to my sister. Time is a factor, Lord. Finances are a factor, too.
“The life she’s living now isn’t life. It isn’t fair to mom to have to be like she is. Please help my sister to understand that we are all suffering. Give our family the strength to cross this bridge and give mom a peace that only you can give.
One writer, likely a caregiver, compared her pain to that of her patients. She expressed the guilt many of us feel when seeing our problems in the light of the tragedy experienced by others:
“No one I know is dying or suffering, so I need to stop being a baby about my problems. I should be praying for those who truly need love and support. I’m going through a divorce, and I feel depressed all the time. However, I’m grateful for my health, friends and family.
“Please help me overcome this feeling of anguish, loss, anxiety and jealousy. It’s not good for my health, and I’m unable to help my patients who truly need it.
“Thanks for listening.
Finally, the last page of these collected prayers offers a benediction for this column:
“To anyone who reads this:
I hope God answers all your prayers in the New Year. The Lord is good!
If you like healthcare stories, take a look at my first book, “No Small Miracles” on display at Combie Mail. See my website for more details. www.thechaplain.net. Comments are received at 10556 Combie Rd Suite 6643 Auburn, CA 95602 or by email [email protected] or at (843) 608-9715.