One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,”he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’” Luke 18:1-5 NLT
For those just beginning in nursing home ministry one challenge is to learn how and what to pray for the residents. The response of some has been to give up. The nursing home seems so filled with needs. There are sicknesses, infirmities and loneliness on every hand. What are our small resources of faith in the face of so much struggle? When we aren’t sure where to begin a journey sometimes the easiest answer is not to start.
On the other end of the spectrum there are some who feel so motivated to help that they are ready to patrol the halls asking anyone they meet if they can pray for them. But effective prayer can only be built on the two legs of relationship and respect. In the story that Jesus told we discover a woman who daily went to a judge to help her with her legal woes. It may not have looked like the relationship we hope to build with our special people, but she did it the same way that we need to do.
First, she built a relationship with the judge and became a part of his daily life. Every morning as sure as the sunrise and his first cup of tea, the judge would hear a knock at his door, “Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy!” she would cry. Every morning he began to anticipate her visit. In the same way we can also become a positive part of the life of someone who has moved into nursing care. Whether we are the hair stylist, nutritionist, chaplain or nurse we each serve a need in that person’s life. If you “never give up” in your relationship building the day will come when they will ask you to pray. They will tell us what they are praying for and when our prayers agree with theirs amazing things can happen!
The second leg of effective prayer is respect. Though the woman was persistent in her requests to the judge she never treated him with disrespect. She in fact gave him the honored position in her life of being the only person powerful enough to help her with her problem. When we give the respect of really listening,people will know and respond. Others sense when we are just being polite and when we really have an interest in them. Only Jesus can meet their every need,but when we build relationships and treat people with respect, they will tell us how they need us to pray and open their hearts to the one who can give them the answers that they need.
What a friend we have in Jesus – All our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry – Everything to God in prayer