A few weeks ago, I was in a surgery prep room at a local hospital. One of our congregation's members was undergoing surgery and I was there to pray and spend time with him and his wife before he was wheeled in for his procedure.
Our visit had just begun when the surgeon walked in to go over information with the couple. After doing that, the surgeon turned to me and asked, "Did you pray?" "Not yet," we said.
"Well, could I pray with you?"
So, we all held out our hands to each other and prayed.
After asking for God's healing for the patient, encouragement for him and his wife, and help and guidance for the surgeon and all the hospital personnel who would be involved, the doctor talked about a prayer offered by another pastor in similar circumstances. "Lord," the surgeon reported that pastor praying, "let this doctor operate with the hands of Jesus today."
"When he said that," the surgeon told us, "I had tears in my eyes."
I later learned that the doctor spends time in the mornings praying for every patient he's scheduled to operate on that day.
Over the years, I've known of some doctors who have prayed with patients, families, and me prior to medical procedures. But it hasn't been that common. And I was struck by how meaningful prayer was for this particular doctor that we pray together.
But the surprises weren't over.
A short while later, the anesthesiologist entered the prep area to go over things with patient and wife. His business done, he turned to me and asked, "Are you going to offer a prayer?"
"We did pray earlier," I told him, thinking he wanted me to hurry along so that things could get under way.
"Do you think we could pray again now?" he asked.
And once again, patient, wife, a doctor, and I grasped hands in a circle around the patient's bed and prayed.
Two doctors seeking to pray with others for a patient and his healing before a surgery is unprecedented in my twenty-nine years.
I think it inspired confidence in the patient and his wife to know that those doctors were not only medically competent but dependent on the God we know in Jesus Christ.
The patient is doing well.
I can't prove, of course, that this positive result is attributable to prayer, although many objective studies indicate that prayer does positively augment healing and recovery for hospital patients. I can only say that I was moved by the fact that I was joined in prayer that day by two doctors humble enough to admit their need of God.
It humbled and inspired me.