This morning I was out dong what ministers do. I went to the hospital to visit someone who was recovering from surgery. He, his wife and I sat and had a pleasant chat for about 15 min, and then I asked if I could lead them in prayer. I prayed, with thanksgiving for the long bond of love in their marriage and their relationship with God. I asked for the comfort and peace of God’s Spirit as God laid a healing hand on the man in the bed. When I said “Amen” there was an “Amen” from someone in the other bed in the room, who was hidden behind a curtain.
So often when in those hospital type situations we forget who may be listening. I remember once praying for someone who was dying, and unbeknownst a nurse had come into the room to administer meds, she waited quietly until I was done and commented on how she wished more people would pray for those in hospital.
So that was what I was doing today, with no thought about who might be listening, and with no expectation that the prayer would touch anyone other than the gentleman and his wife. But the man in the next bed was listening, and when the Amen’s had settled into silence he asked, ‘Will you come over here and pray for me next?”
So when the visit ended, I went behind the curtain, and chatted with a very nice gentleman, learned about his illness and his lapse in church attendance. God’s grace is free to all who need it and with the assurance that God loved him I prayed for God’s grace to fill his life and for the treatment plan to work in cooperation with the wisdom of the medical staff, and for the peace of God’s presence in all circumstances in that man’s life.
The person I was visiting was healthy and strong. There was no expectation for anything other than a good recovery. I could have left without praying, and he and his wife would have been more than happy with the visit. The prayer, however was a means of bringing God’s presence into the healing process of two men, and the gift of grace to the second man.
Because I know this, and have learned it over years of ministry, I always pray in the hospital. And who knows, maybe the prayer isn’t so much for those whom I visit but for those who happen to overhear.
These kinds of experiences remind me that God’s Spirit is always active and working, to bring people to God and to bless them in unexpected ways. This is as true in your life as in mine. So I urge you, take those opportunities to pray for others, pray as if no one is listening, and who knows may hear, and by hearing encounter grace.
The best thing about ministry is that you never know what’s going to happen next and how God will use you to be a blessing. My prayer O God, is “make me a servant.” Amen.