- - Sunday, November 29, 2015

Prayer is like breathing. I breathe prayer in, and I breathe prayers out to a heavenly Father, believing that He hears every word and that, on His timetable, He will respond. As part of our daily ritual, my husband and I begin our day with prayers lifted high for family, friends, ourselves. Throughout the day I breathe out short prayers, feeling peace settle in my soul.

As a psychologist in private practice, I pray that I will be a conduit God uses to touch my clients’ lives. Sometimes when I listen to their heartbreak and feel their pain wash over me, I whisper internally, “Lord, help me,” and a question or comment comes to mind. Other times as I am about to say something, I hear an internal voice caution, “Don’t say that.” I have, on rare occasions, felt the strong presence of the Holy Spirit in my office and wondered if my clients, some unbelieving, felt a presence as well.

I could not do my work without the power of prayer. Clients sometimes come with such angst — a history of abuse, betrayal by a lover or a spouse, cancer, depression, chronic pain. The list goes on. Sometimes they weep; sometimes they rage. Often they need help with the transitions in their lives.

While I feel privileged to hear their stories, I realize that I am only human and that my knowledge and training make me, at best, a witness to their grief and a counselor. For them to move forward, they must make new choices. And, unbeknownst to some, God is waiting in the wings of their lives to help.

I learned about the power of prayer 18 years ago when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I will never forget the morning my husband and I sat at our kitchen table in the throes of decision making about which treatment plan to pursue.

My surgeon had told me that if I did not follow his protocol, I would probably be dead within 10 years. Yet, I desperately wanted to find a different path. That morning I prayed the prayer of King Jehoshaphat in the Old Testament who, when he was surrounded by vast armies of Moabites and Ammonites, cried out to God, saying, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.” Within two weeks I had found the physician who guided me back to health.

More recently, I have witnessed the power of prayer in my husband’s life. One summer’s day Don fell, running across the grass. Within four days he was having facial seizures. He had a subdural hematoma and the neurologist could not control the bleeding into his cranium.

That was in July. By December Don’s CAT scan showed the bleeding had not stopped and the pressure on his brain was so severe he listed to one side when he walked. One physician even told me to prepare to put him on life support.

Each Sunday of that month my sweet husband asked the healing prayer team at our Anglican church to lay hands on his head and pray for him. Oh, how he loved their earnest prayers! After four weeks Don had another CAT scan and this one looked better. Then the neurosurgeon said, “Let’s wait a few months and take another look.”

That was four years ago. Recently, my husband’s internist said, “Don, I have younger patients who have had as severe a concussion as you, but none have come back like you have. You need to thank the man upstairs.” We do. We give thanks. We pray. We breathe.

Brenda M. Hunter, Ph.D., is a psychologist and internationally published author of twelve books, including “Home by Choice,” “In the Company of Women,” “From Santa to Sexting” and “Staying Alive,” a comprehensive primer on fighting cancer.

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