Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17
“The first and best gift we can give to the world in which we live and work is the gift of praying personalities. We must be true to our stewardship, ever seeking to raise and never to lower the standard of our life of prayer. We need to bring our spiritual consciousness to our Lord that we may learn as He does. When we reach out hands that are consecrated by wounds, we shall really be able to bear one anothers burdens.”
Andrew SDC, as recounted in What Do You Seek? Wisdom from Religious Life for Today’s World by John-Francis Friendship (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2021) 108.
I had not thought about this as my first and best gift to the world until my experience this past week at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.
Prayer makes a difference. But don’t take my word for it. I got this message from Don Johnson, the patient advocate who helped me get clearance to visit Dan Busby.
Don to Gary: “Hello Gary it’s Don. I’m not working today but was told left the SICU! Yesterday he went from 6L of O2 to room air! Never quite seen such a 180 and I give you much of credit. I’ll drop by to see him on Monday. I know how busy you are but I would like to share Dan’s story with upper management and I’m hoping you would be willing to write a paragraph or two of the impact visitation by family and clergy can have on the prognosis and outcome of patients with COVID-19. It’s my goal to make more exceptions to our visitation policy. Thank you and remain safe.”
Gary to Don: “I will happily do this for you. To God be the glory, but it’s a privilege to be God’s ambassador. I could not have made it in there without your help. Again God bless you. I’ll write this up tomorrow. Today’s a full day for me. And catching up on my rest.”
Don to Gary: “Thank you!!!”
Gary to Don: “23 January 2022 – Attention: Don Johnson, Patient Advocate SICU, Johns Hopkins Hospital Baltimore
I am writing to thank you for your service as Patient Advocate. Dan Busby was in a very low place when he asked me to visit on 17 January 2022. He was grasping threads of hope and contemplating end of life. In such moments, a visit from a minister who reads from the Bible and prays over the patient can release them to rest in peace or restore the person to health.
When my visit was approved on 18 January 2022. I found Dan despondent. I read Mark 10:46-52. In that text, Jesus urges the blind man Bartimaeus to take heart and invites him to ask the Lord for whatever he wants. Bartimaeus wanted to see. In Dan’s case, Dan said he wanted to recover from Covid and transition seamlessly to getting cancer treatment. So, that’s what we prayed.
Also, on my visit on the wall I saw a chart that Dan could not read from his bed. It was too small. It marked the steps to get out of there with rainbow colors. I remind him that God heard his prayer, and that he had to take steps like blowing in his toys, eating, sitting up, standing, and walking to recover. He deeply appreciated my 90-minute visit and resolved to do his part.
On the morning of 19 January 2022, I visited Dan’s wife in Winchester, Virginia, to give a report and to encourage her and pray with her. This lifted her spirits. I returned and spent nearly 4 hours with Dan that afternoon. This time we prayed for his complete healing and I anointed him with frankincense after reading James 5:13-16. The text reads as follows:
“Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.”
With each question in the text, Dan replied, “That’s me.” So, while I believe my visit deeply inspired Dan, when coupled with the great medical care he was receiving in Surgical ICU, the Lord is the One who raised him up from 6L of O2 to room air. Dan just followed the steps outlined in the Scriptures. My role as a minister was to guide him and remind him what God wanted him to do.
So, Don, when we met together on the morning of my third day of visiting, 20 January 2022, it was a privilege to thank you and to see the transformation that had happened before our eyes together. You yourself advocated for the power of a visit of a person of the cloth. I merely played my role on the team and hope other ministers can get access to do the same thing.
I am deeply thankful to the doctors, nurses, and other servants who cared for Dan and others at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore in SICU. And I am thankful that as a minister I was invited to join this care team. Together we ministered to the physical and spiritual needs of Dan Busby. To God be the glory for his speedy recovery. I hope this case inspires the hospital to give others access as was given to me.
Sincerely, Rev. Dr. Gary G. Hoag”
Dan Busby has miraculously recovered and been released from ICU. Today he gets a port put in for transitioning to cancer treatment. They plan to send him home tomorrow to rest up to start chemo treatments next week. Jesus heard and graciously answered his prayer.
Father in heaven, make us into praying personalities so that our first and best gifts to the world are the ways in which we call on you to show up, to supply, and to provide in ways that bring you glory as people of prayer. Do this by your Holy Spirit. In your mercy, hear our prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.