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Posted: November 26, 2004

Spiritual Caregiving

A Prayer Primer

(Editor?s Note: Sixty-six percent of Americans say they would like their doctors to pray with them. Friends and family often ask the same of the rest of us. But praying for someone can be uncomfortable, even scary. So we asked the Rev. Laurie Garrett, a hospital chaplain at California Pacific Medical Center, to share her prayer.)


Shall We Pray?

Oh, before I pray for you, I would be interested to know what you are experiencing right now. My guess is that there are some of you who are experiencing real apprehension about the risk of continuing with me into the mysterious spirit world of prayer. What are those feelings about for you?

In my experience, just by invoking prayer, we are beginning a spiritual journey that is shrouded with a mixture of fear and hope, and thus we immediately encounter the first challenge. Entering into a spiritual way of knowing, being, relating, confronting, or trusting is risky work, and often not easy.

Prayer might require something of you, might move you and your family, change you and your community, transform you and your world. Prayer propels you beyond your comfort zone, because the process of being transformed can be very uncomfortable. It means living each moment with a spiritual willingness to be present to ourselves and to others, being willing to accept or change ourselves and our community in thought, word, and deed. Too often people expect spiritual practices to be surrounded with soft colors, profound quiet, and the sincere whispering voices of people oddly dressed. Or they expect spiritual practices to be guided by unmerciful rules, irrelevant dogma, or rigid tradition.

But spirituality and prayer need not be either of these extremes. They are immanently accessible. They do not require a cell phone, a modem, a fax, a pager, a building, shoes and socks, or even food or clothing. The wealthy do not get more and the sophisticated do not do it better. You are always in the presence of spirituality and always able to access prayer. All you have to do is pay attention to the sacred part of yourself and to create a context in which to express it. Right here, where you are riqht now, is your context for expressing your sacredness and honoring the sacredness of others.

Here and now, as with every here and now, you have the opportunity to embrace yourself and others, and drop illusions and lies. Here is where you move forward and change, or give, or accept, or listen, or learn, or forgive, or seek forgiveness, or stay just the way you are. Here is where you become whole and heal. Prayer leads to a largeness in the moment ? largeness of heart, awareness, connection, community, options, and perspective.

How then do you pray? What should you say and how should you say it: Silently or out loud? A few seconds or hours or perhaps days without ceasing? Dancing, shouting, singing, studying, whispering, or with musical instruments? With specific petitions or general offerings? Intercessionally or thankfully? With frustration and anger? Fear and trembling? Empathy and compassion? And when can you stop? The key to any spiritual practice is practicing. Only through practice will you discover your own truth, because the spiritual practice of prayer comes out of your own process of discemment. Trust yourself. Pray right now. Use some form of prayer that comes out of your own essential being. If you do not want to pray, let yourself have that space ? and try to discover the spiritual truth in that place of silence.

Whatever your choice, may your spirit talk or tilt even a little. May the longings of your heart be in communication with the wisdom of your spirit, and the spirit of completeness, so that you may live with wellness, vitality, and peace; that you are empowered to laugh when happy, cry when sad, and practice compassion; that you receive love and support from a community of well- wishers and that you give likewise with generosity; that you love yourself and others, and that every day you find meaning, purpose, and fulfillment. May music follow you and fill the beat of your heart with a rhythm that connects you to sacredness. Amen.

-- Rev. Laurie Garrett

This article originally appeared in Spirituality & Health magazine, For subscriptions call 1-800-876-8202 or see Editor Stephen Kiesling and his staff contribute weekly columns, features and articles published every Friday as "Spiritual Caregiving" at Contact staff directly via email at

© 2004 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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