What can I pray when praying with the sick in the hospital?

When all else fails…pray the gospel.  One morning, I was called by a nurse at a local hospital requesting my immediate presence.  The non-Christian spouse of one of our members was moments away from dying.  I had no idea what awaited me when I arrived.  I walked into a room full of family with this heartbroken husband motioning me over to his wife’s bed.  He was also suffering from some medical problems that resulted in a tracheotomy preventing him from speaking.  However, it did not take me long to see why I had been summoned.  He was asking me to pray over his wife as the doctor removed the ventilator.  Twenty minutes ago, I had been in my office neck deep in my studies.  Now, I found myself being asked to pray a final prayer over a dying, non-Christian woman in front of her husband and fifteen to twenty non-Christian family members hanging onto some miracle with my prayer.  I literally had a few seconds to decide what to do and how to pray.

I decided to pray the gospel for this dying woman, her husband, and this room full of non-Christian family.  I did not pray for God to spare her.  I did not pray that God would heal her.  I did not pray some manipulating request that God would receive her (which is what I think they expected me to pray).  I prayed that the gospel was her only hope in such a way that God could let every person in that room know it was their only hope also.  Praying the gospel does not have to be complicated, just simple and faithful.

God taught me an invaluable lesson that day in the hospital room that has had a profound impact on me and my ministry.  When the gospel is prayed, the gospel is heard.  When I prayed the gospel in the room that day, it was for this dying woman moments from facing judgment, her Christian husband, and her lost family members to hear.  If we truly believe that faith comes by hearing (Rom. 10:17), we should never leave a hospital room, nursing home, rehabilitation center, or home of a sick person (or healthy person for that matter) without praying the hope of God in Christ. 

When you visit, it is ideal in the midst of attempting spiritual conversation to speak about God’s righteousness, man’s sinfulness, and Christ’s dying on the cross in our place for our sins.  However, many circumstances can make that difficult.  But nothing prevents us from praying the gospel.  It is God alone through his Holy Spirit who transforms the darkest heart.  Whether through prayer or proclamation, we should see every visit as a divine appointment to make the saving power of the gospel known.

Posted in Hospital Visitation
9 comments on “What can I pray when praying with the sick in the hospital?
  1. Ernie says:

    Excellent. Your posts continue to be so vey helpful. Thanks.

  2. R Hargrave says:

    OK, so what did you say. To say you are praying the gospel is fine but your blog today was frustrating. Please clarify.

    • Brian Croft says:

      Sorry for your frustration. I’m not sure what you are wanting clarification on. I simply wanted to give practical advice with a real example on what we can pray in moments where we face the unexpected, unsure of what to do, and our minds go blank to that which we had prepared to say and do. Thanks for sharing your concern.

  3. Thank you for this. This reminded me of David Powlison’s article some years ago called, “Praying beyond the Sick List”, I still get this reminder myself. Thanks for your transparency, honesty, and authenticity.


  4. Lynn says:

    Dear Brian, your sharing that you did not pray sparing, healing and other manipulative request is very appropriate for me as that’s how I feel … but then that left me with ‘How should I pray then?’

    Please help me here, what exactly is praying the gospel, is that just talking about Christ & salvation … healing of the soul and thus assurance of eternal life. I’m visiting friend’s parents who are non-christians. Her dad’s very sick, I feel (praying for guidance) that it is not appropriate to pray manipulative healing etc …


2 Pings/Trackbacks for "What can I pray when praying with the sick in the hospital?"
  1. […] the gospel and calls us back to the true message of the gospel.  Practical Shepherding suggests we pray the gospel at with people in […]

  2. […] which I’m sure will be a delight to read! Here’s an excerpt from his post “What can I pray when praying with the sick in the hospital?” I decided to pray the gospel for this dying woman, her husband, and this room full of non-Christian […]

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