We’ve all heard the phrase before, and have either believed in it, hoped for it, or scoffed at it. I saw a new example of it last week. (And I encourage you to read-on, even if you aren’t a believer.)
It was dark and early Monday morning at Sierra Vista Hospital (which, by the way, I am now even more proud to say is the hospital where I was born. The staff there was AWESOME!) Anyway, my fiance’ was due for surgery at 7:00 a.m. so we were to be at the hospital at 5:00 a.m. Not a lot of traffic in the waiting rooms at that time of day. As they geared Gordon up in is hospital gown, inserted IV’s and got all his vitals, I headed out to the dark parking lot to put his street clothes in the car. As I did so, I noticed a few people meeting up with their coffee cups and heading inside. I kind of assumed they were doctors the way were cheerfully greeting each other with a sense of familiarity.
Minutes later, as I waited with Gordon behind a curtain the pre-op room, I noticed some of the “doctors” walking in with some new additions to their group and asking for one particular patient. The narrative in my head continued, with me assuming that patient must be having one hell of a complicated surgery to warrant such an assembly of medical professionals. I listened for occasional clues as I heard bits and pieces of the chatter happening behind the curtain across the room. It all seemed peppered with bits of laughter and light-hearted chuckles. Maybe doctors yucking it up with a fellow surgeon who was going under the knife himself. And then it happened. All went silent for a minute and one strong voice emerged.
“Heavenly Father, we want to reach out to you this morning for our brother….” the voice began.
In an instant, all went silent in that pre-op room as nurses, medical assistants and those of us also waiting behind curtained walls couldn’t help but stop and listen in. It lasted maybe 3-4 minutes, I don’t know. But I could picture this group of men standing around with their heads bowed and perhaps even each other’s hands held, praying along silently.
“And we love you, and we thank you for your wisdom and loving protection of our friend…. Amen.”
As they left the pre-op area I peeked through a gap in our curtained wall to catch a glimpse of the group as each member exited. I recognized one as he passed and I reached out to grab his arm and say howdy. We both inquired of each other: “What are you doing here?” I pointed to Gordon and explained he was having what we hoped would be his last surgery for a long while. I returned the question to him, and he explained a friend was having his first surgery at the age of 88, and was a bit nervous. This wasn’t a group of doctors, this was a group of open-hearted, supportive friends from church, I gathered.
“So you all came out just to pray for him?” I asked.
“Yeah.” He answered with an open-hearted smile. “And to let him know we will be here the whole time he is under and will be waiting for him when he wakes up.”
And that they were. I sat across the waiting room from the group as more members, wives, and friends showed up. They sat and chatted and left for a quick breakfast at their friend’s favorite pancake shop, and were sitting there waiting when Gordon’s doctor came out to tell me all went well with his surgery. They were there when I left to head to Gordon’s room, and I wished them equally good reports from their friend’s doctor soon. I also told them their friend was a lucky man to have such a support network. And I meant it. I don’t care if you believe their showing up and leading a prayer led to more attention from God. That prayer took over the noises of a hospital…the beeps, the questions being asked of patients, the lack of a sense of serenity that exists inside this kind of hospital room.
I felt like everyone within earshot was moved by the sense of support these men created when they gathered around a friend who was scared that morning. It wasn’t just the faith they displayed, but they all got out of bed in the dark of early morning, lit from within because they were able to to come support a friend. That is something we see far too little of these days.
It moved me, and made me see the power of prayer is far more complex than asking for and expecting favors from God. It’s about showing up, with joy, to make the ask. And it’s about showing those who may have reason to worry, they can let their worries go for awhile because their tribe has their back. It’s about sitting quietly with someone until the threat has passed, or waiting for them, so they know their not alone when they return from battle. Sometimes, it’s as simple as a smile and a joke at a particularly tense time. Prayer can take all kinds of forms. One thing I am certain about: there’s power in sending one up for someone who needs it.
And I’m grateful to the group of people who reminded me of that last Monday at Sierra Vista Hospital.