The other evening I went to a CMF (Christian Medical Fellowship) social where we had a meal prepared for us and then we went to St. Thomas’s Church to debate the question of whether it’s right to pray with patients. I’ve mentioned CMF previously in my blog but just as a refresher: the society brings together medical students that share the same faith of Christianity.
Anyway back to the question at hand, is it ever right to pray with patients? We live in a world where people are free to choose what they believe in. Recent times have shed a bad light on religion. I mean, it’s understandable…when a minority of members of a faith choose to misinterpret their religion’s holy book and commit ungodly deeds, those who have no belief in a higher power are bound to turn further and further away from the truth.
There are certain points in people’s life where they lose hope and turn to God as a last resort in the hope that this superior being can do miraculous things that no other human can. As a doctor, you’re more likely to be in the presence of this vulnerable stage in someone’s life and even though you may receive plenty of training to face a situation such as that, it’s always difficult to fully predict what would happen.
As a future doctor who is a Christian, palliative care is something that has a deeper meaning. In some cultures, it’s common practice for healthcare professionals to offer prayers to their patients however this is not the case in the UK. I’ve always found that prayer brings me a great deal of comfort when I’m in a dark place and it’s always nice to know that my God is listening to me when others can’t.
It’s difficult to answer the question at hand. GMC guidelines suggests that the patients views and wishes must always be taken into paramount consideration. The act of praying with a patient isn’t forbidden but it’s important to be careful to clearly identify with the patient what they want at a vulnerable stage in their life.