Heavenly Healing

Should a Doctor pray for his patients?

Comments (25)

(25) Mary, June 9, 2008 10:37 AM

Should a doctor offer to pray for his patient?

Yes, I''d want my doctor to offer to pray. My sister had an inoperable brain tumor. Doctors sent her home to die, but a neurosurgeon who was not willing to give up put her on the operating table, held his hands over her body and said, "Dear G-d, do your work through my hands" and my sister survived with no brain damage and was able to raise her two small children. She is still alive and well.

Thank you for this wonderful website.

(24) NesanelS, April 7, 2008 10:45 AM

As R' Pesach Krohn said...

I once heard the following from Rabbi Pesach Krohn. (R' Krohn is a noted lecturer and author see Artscroll dot com). He said as follows: Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe writes in his book 'Planting and Building; Raising A Jewish Child' (see Feldheim dot com) that we learn from the concept of 'Aarei Miklat' where the kohen's mother would bring food for the inhabitants. (The Aarei miklat was a small city where people who had killed mistakenly would have to run and there they could not be punished by a relative avenging the deceased's' blood). While they were there, the mother of the Kohen Gadol [High Priest in the Bais Hamikdosh) would bring them food and drink. Why? Because it says that on the day that the high priest dies, they become free. So in order that they should be praying for his death, his mother would bring food and drink.
What is the reason for this concept? The answer is, that being the high priest, he should have prayed for his generation; that all should be well, and since he apparently did not – or not good enough, he has the pressure.
'So too', says Rabbi Wolbe, 'a parent must pray for his children; a rabbi for his congregation' – and therefore we can say here; a doctor for his patients.
Rabbi Krohn ends off saying that once a rabbi came over to a young high school boy during the high - holy days, and asked him his mothers name. The boy asked why – 'I'm not sick?' But the rabbi said 'I want to pray for your success.' The boy said that he was so impressed by that, that it was his prime reason for later going into Jewish education ('chinuch') himself!!!
One more thing we can add; that when we pray, we pray in the plural form 'R'phaeinu'-heel us etc. Thus it is built into every prayer to pray for all!

(23) Beverly Kurtin, April 5, 2008 2:15 PM

How many Gods are there?

As I was waiting to have a dangerous operation, one that could a. cure me, b. cause me to have a massive stroke or c. kill me, the hospital's chaplain asked me if he could pray for me. I understand that HaShem echod; Christians pray to the same God we do. I said yes and, despite him knowing I was Jewish, he couldn't stop himself from saying "in the name of...you-know-who." Instantly he apologized, I laughed. You've no idea how badly I needed that laugh as it would be the last one I would have for months because I got option b. a massive stroke as a result from the operation.

I assured him I wasn't in the last offended, after all, there's only one God and I'm that odd Jew who understands that a Christian can no more NOT pray to you-know-who, as we would find it next to impossible to not say the Shema.

We had a nice spiritual discussion and that was what was on mind as they came for me.

Just before I was induced I said the Shema. Fortunately the CRNA (certified registered nurse anesthetist was Jewish and waited for me to finish before sending me to la la land.

The stroke didn't occur until several days later, so the chaplain and I had several more conversations; he finally found a Jew who wasn't afraid to discuss the similarities and differences in our beliefs, i.e. as he said, he felt very comfortable schmoozing (his word, not mine) with me.

When I returned to the hospital following the stroke, he prayed for me again, this time in Hebrew! He had taken our conversations to heart and had learned some Hebrew in seminary and although his pronouncation was horrendous, his heart was perfect.

Some of my disabilities are visible and so sometimes well-meaning Christians will offer to pray for me. I explain that I'm Jewish but would be honored if they would, after all, there is only one God as Jesus said when he was asked what the most important commandment was, he said the Shema and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I love blowing Christian's minds with that. Nu? Despite our differences, they are still our neighbors and we are commanded to love them as ourselves.

(22) Chana, April 2, 2008 10:00 PM

I am very uncomfortable if a dr. offers to pray for me if I know that the dr. is not jewish.
Somehow I cannot help but feel that when we are most vulnerable, like during an illness or crisis, a non-jewish dr. or nurse's offer to pray for me is for them an opportunity to "expose" us to their religion and I prefer not to go there....
I would very much welcome a prayer when ill, but it will have to come from a jewish dr.

(21) Susan, April 2, 2008 8:44 PM

Depends on the Patient.

Rabbi, Thirty years ago if my physician began praying for me, as in "Dear G-d, Please help this woman get better"...... I would have thought, Oh No, Medicine has failed and my Doctor is using G-d as a last resort. I must be dying!!

Today, having matured (somewhat), I would welcome a Doctors prayers. It tells me the physician isn't so narrow to think he can heal alone. That the healing is a multi faceted process, between man, the medical profession, and G-d.

(20) Manasseh, April 2, 2008 4:39 PM

Doctors Cure, God Heals

When I was a Teen I was clinically dead for 4 minutes according to doctors who resucitated me.
I remember my mother and fathers prayers and the Nurse too
I dont know about anyone else but I know If I was going under the knife, I sure would feel safer in the hands of a praying doctor

(19) Shoshana, April 2, 2008 4:04 PM

If not for the patient, at least for the doctor!

I believe that a doctor who truly is concerned with the patient's well-being will use every means available to him to treat the patient. Prayer is one of those means. Even if the doctor does not choose to use prayer as a form of treatment, he should pray for his own success in treating the patient al pi derech hatevah - in the "natural" ways of medicine and analyzing tests. His insights and abilities come from Hashem; to recognize this and pray for continued success is essential.

(18) Tina Colaco, April 2, 2008 11:26 AM

Doesn't this point to the issue of healing the "whole" patient, body AND
soul? Offering a prayer is another level of healing and probably welcomed by most people struggling with illness.

(17) Anonymous, April 2, 2008 5:33 AM

Healing comes from the Creator

The source of allhealing comes from the Creator. Even the knowledge a dr may have reagrding what meds to prescribe, what therapy to give and what to say all come from one source. So what better One for a dr to align himself with but with the One who created the body is is trying to heal. Very sorry that there isn't a Torah course on creation taught in med schools. Even as an elective. I'm convinced it would make better drs. 'The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom".

(16) Fay Badgery, April 2, 2008 2:36 AM

Yes please!

A doctor who offers prayer for patients! Showing compassion with faith could be the start of healing, in more ways than physical. I speak from an experience in Hong Kong 20 years ago. When one of the children became ill, we were taken to a public clinic run by a charitable organisation. The doctor offered prayer for the child, the family and the medication! Tears flowed as we were reassured by his caring attention and amazed that in 24 hours the illness was gone!

(15) Anonymous, April 2, 2008 2:28 AM


I rouinely say my hospitazed patients' names during the mishabarah after the reading of the Torah on Saturday morning-Jew or gentile. Even though I cannot bill for this "service", (there is no billing code as yet for davening for a patient), I figure it can't hurt and may even help...so, why not?

(14) Batya, April 1, 2008 10:20 PM

Perfect Timing!

I have been suffering with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue for many years. This past month has been the worst I've ever experienced. So much so, that I've had to cancel my regular appointments with my chiropractor. Even though he knows that I am Jewish and I know that he is christian, when speaking with him on the phone yesterday just before we hung up, he said "I'll be praying for you". I know that his prayers won't be Jewish, but still I felt very good knowing that he cared enough about me as a person to want to pray for me. I thanked him and smiled to myself. Somewhere inside I felt a sense of relief that someone who is practically a stranger to me would be praying for my recovery. I welcome prayers from doctors. At the very least it makes me happy to know that although their beliefs and my own may be different, the human element of caring is still there. And there has never been any evangelizing on his part. It gives me hope.

(13) Joey, April 1, 2008 9:35 PM

I would say the same basic rules apply for doctors as for anyone else. I pray for everybody I know, including those who are not religious. That being said, I rarely mention to my more secular acquaintences that I do so, since many of them would just roll their eyes, but do mention it to those who are religious themselves. So, if a doctor is of a spiritual bent, he can feel free to pray for his patients; but in terms of telling the patients, that would be a matter of the situation.

God bless.

(12) chavi, April 1, 2008 8:06 PM

expressions of caring

As a former oncology patient in a prominent cancer hospital, I can state unequivocally that any prayers, blessings, good wishes, or even acknowledgement and validation that I am a unique individual and not just 'the patient in room 711' meant so much to me. It didn't matter to me if the good wishes came from a doctor, nurse, aide, or even a maintenance worker. And as long as the prayers, blessings, and good wishes were sincere, the faith of the well-wisher mattered little to me. I never worried about proselytizing; I have yet to meet the missionary who went to medical school and practiced both professions simultaneously. The hospital staff, of whatever faith, who expressed their caring in whatever form, certainly played a significant role in my healing. Hashem hears he prayers of people of all faiths, and studies have shown that people for whom others pray have better outcomes.

(11) Tim Rader, April 1, 2008 12:31 PM

Heavenly Healing

I find great comfort when a doctor is willing to pray. My former doctor is a Christian, though I am a Jew - he always stated that he was only be to do so much. Lets take it to the L-rd in prayer. I found great comfort and peace with it.

(10) Richard Wald, April 1, 2008 12:09 PM

Doctors' prayers and anyone elses are always to be commended

I was a patient in St Francis hospital undergoing heart bypass surgery and, after developing a staph infection, two other major surgeries. Believe me I was happy to have Rabbis, doctors,family, friends and even a Priest pray for me. We can never know whose prayers the Ribono Shel Olom will listen to.

(9) Anonymous, April 1, 2008 11:11 AM

care giver, doctor and patient

I work as a care giver, I am a cancer survivor. I don't ask, I just say "I will put you on my prayer list." I have never has a negative response to this. Often they expect to pray right them, if so, we do. But not in that guy's name.

(8) Chaya, April 1, 2008 9:39 AM

Pray for Me but Don't Tell Me About It

The day I get wheeled into the operating room and see the surgeon praying for me, is the day I jump off the table and find a skilled atheist surgeon.

(7) Adam Zion, April 1, 2008 8:39 AM

Ben Franklin summed it up

As Ben Franklin put it, 'G-d heals, + the doctor takes the fee.'

(6) Tamar Leah, March 31, 2008 12:39 PM

A Dr.'s Prayer shows humility and humanity

I am a chiropractor that prays for my patients all the time-because no doctor has all the answers to a patient's needs, but Ha Shem does. Prayer also shows that the doctor is willing to reach out to their patient as a human being.

(5) Kelly Woo, March 30, 2008 3:23 PM

healing cannot happen without God...

and since doctors are an integral part of the healing process, they should utilize any and all methods which might facilitate health, including prayer. Should a doctor ask or inform a patient that she will be praying on the patient's behalf? For me, this is the question.

(4) yovel, March 30, 2008 2:16 PM

Whats the question? our efforts are merely the ground work for Hashem to effect the ultimate change and therefore prayer part and parcel of success in this world.

(3) Shoshana Z., March 30, 2008 2:16 PM

Thank you for dealing with this topic

This topic was recently discussed in the Science Times.

As a relative of people who were seriously ill, I found it most comforting for a doctor to say I will pray for you. One doctor asked Yeshiva Chaim Berlin to pray for my husband O"H who had been a friend of the yeshiva.

Yes, prayers are always welcome!


(2) Rosen, March 30, 2008 9:28 AM

Doctors and missionaries

Many times we hear about how Jews submitted to a hospital for treatment are subject to missionaries coming in and harassing them to accept a savior, which is unfortunate, because if he/she is well-educated, then it will probably worsen their condition and raise blood pressure. I even heard of Jews being admitted into hospitals where they are refused kosher meals if they are observant such as those in the midwest, among other places.

It is possible, however, that doctors and friends of a different faith than the patient can pray in general for their recovery in order to heal without trying to shove their beliefs down the patient's throught. So, it is possible to pray in a universal context that does not involve evangelism among Jews and Gentiles.

Unfortunately since many, especially missionaries, don't seem to know the difference between G-d and the messiah, thereby distorting them as one in the same has led to a lot of problematic evangelism and judgment in hospitals, among other settings.

All in all it's all a matter of good intentions for the better and not fundamentally altering their belief system.

(1) ross, March 30, 2008 7:51 AM

Subtle hints

I"m not so sure I believe a doctor should offer to pray for a patient. If someone has a serious illness, maybe the doctor should say, "This is what we'll do, and- according to purely natural means- it has this chance of working." Give the patient an opening himself to consider something beyond that, and let him decide.


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