Whatever You Do, Don’t Pray!

I’ve commented a recently that it is good to have the opportunity to discuss issues of faith and belief in the public sphere. But the case of nurse Caroline Petrie demonstrates that we need to be careful about the way in which we are open about our faith. Caroline was recently suspeded from her job for offering to pray with a patient and she could lose her job. Read the full story here.

I have a quite a few friends in the medical profession and they all admit that the issue of sharing their faith and praying for them is a very difficult one and they come to a variety of conclusions. What do you think?

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4 replies on “Whatever You Do, Don’t Pray!”

The nurse has been accused of, “failing to demonstrate a “personal and professional commitment to equality and diversity.”” How is offering to pray doing this?

The woman who made the complaint said that she wasn’t offended by the nurse’s offer of prayer but “someone else might have been.” What kind of grounds for complaint is that? And what kind of employer takes a complaint like that to such extremes as a disciplinary hearing?

Totally ridiculous!

This is a sensitive issue, which seems to highlight the question of the Christian’s responsibility to his / her employer. In the context of a church hospital / clinic it would be the norm to pray with patients (and staff) – but in the context of being employed by a secular authority to undertake a professional task, one needs to exercise discretion and discernment.

As an NHS GP I have considerable freedom to set my own parameters, but even though I am fully committed to share the gospel wherever an opportunity arises, I feel that I should not abuse the authority of my professional relationship with a patient to promote faith in Christ.

I would hope that I am “always prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks … for the hope that I have” – and such opportunities continue to arise in the middle of a busy surgery! I have also (occasionally) suggested to a patient that they might consider that the root cause of their symptoms was a spiritual rather than a physical or mental malaise – and when I have done so have generally been encouraged by the response which I have received. This however does imply a readiness on my part to discern the Holy Spirit’s prompting – rather than as an act of desperation when that patient with insoluble problems walks through the consulting room door yet again!

Thanks for your comments, Ian. I think you have expressed the dilemma that many people in your line of work find themselves facing.

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