I’ve been fortunate to have modeled to me over the years by numerous COS members the practice of praying with patients. I recall talking with COS member Glen Brindley about this matter one year at an annual meeting. He said in his early career that it was a rather foreign concept at the time until he heard the founder of COS, J. Lawton Smith, speaking about it at a conference. Excitedly the next meeting, he reported to J. Lawton that after hearing him speak, he went home and prayed for his patients. For J. Lawton that answer was not good enough, “You must pray with your patients, not for,” he exclaimed.
Prayer can have a powerful impact during vulnerable times such as before surgical procedures or delivering difficult diagnoses. It can also have a profound calming effect for both the patient and the surgeon. It’s a comfort for all knowing you can place your trust in the Creator of the universe.
Often times to my surprise, no matter how amazing someone’s vision is on the one day post operative visit, all they want to thank me for is prayer. How fortunate are we to have the opportunity to reach so many people with a short prayer during the course of a normal work day? Many times this is an opportunity to place a small but long lasting seed. I once saw a patient during my residency who had a history of a more rare form of optic neuropathy. He had seen COS member Brad Farris 20 years prior for his condition and when I asked him what was mentioned back then, all he said was “I don’t remember, but I remember he prayed for me.”
The logistics of praying with patients will look different for every physician depending on clinical/surgical flow and set up. I’ve seen the full spectrum of praying with every patient to selectively praying when the Spirit leads. To do this consistently does take some intentional steps and it can sometimes feel awkward and uncomfortable. But at the end of the week, I’m glad I do it and I know many other Christian ophthalmologists are doing it as well. Where does this fit into your practice?