Pray when they need help

Published 7:10 am Monday, September 28, 2009

Hearing a helicopter passing over the YMCA as I was walking on its track. I prayed: “Lord, may they get my neighbor over to Rochester in time to save him or her. Thank you for the good attention already given at the Austin clinic, and help those over there to follow through and return my friend to us.”

For whom did I pray? I don’t know and probably never will. But, no matter. Whoever it was needed the responsible attention and quality care they get, as I have, at the Austin Medical Center, the Rochester hospitals, and Mayo Clinic. They need professional help and I, for my part, can pray. It’s become a habit, but always earnest and sincere.

I’m not alone. I mentioned my practice at a social event table in our church, and several smiled and eagerly assured me, “So do I.” One added, “Wherever I am and whatever I’m doing, I stop long enough to pray for that person. Then I get back to my business.” Another nervously admitted she had felt such non-liturgical prayer for an unknown individual to be a little silly, but that she was reassured by the others who also prayed.

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We all, at least, understand we don’t need to kneel or close our eyes to pray. We do it on the run. Otherwise, someone would need to be praying for us.

We were all amused at how similarly we respond to this scene. There is Mayo One, and we know why it’s arriving. Only one in the group had once made the flight, but we are all grateful it would be there if we should need it.

I suspect we are not alone in this occasion and type of praying. I rather like to think every time Mayo One approaches, people all over Austin and from all churches (or no church) are praying. Are we, thus, “united in prayer” despite ecclesiastical and theological differences? I think, in a very real sense, we are precisely this. I know a number of our neighbors who are, or think they are, atheists or agnostics. Do I expect them also to pray? I suspect they do their equivalent of praying, even if it’s just good wishes. And, if they should slip into an actual prayer, God will hear.

On a Sunday evening some years ago abroad a Northwest Airlines flight into Rochester from Chicago O’Hare, I heard a pilot go courageously and compassionately beyond the broiler plate kind of “As we approach our final destination…” spiel. He said: “Some of you are coming to Rochester to visit the world famous Mayo Clinic. You come with some anxiety not knowing what you will learn or what will be done. I can tell you this much. You will receive the best medical attention in the world. If there’s anything at all that can be done for you, they will do it. And you should know that I and my entire crew and all who live here wish you well. Welcome to Rochester.”

Not only in regard to helicopter evacuations, but when we see or hear ambulances on the move, we have the opportunity to move over and pray for these situations as well. This is how we are in Rochester and Austin and these parts. We may not know you, but we care about you. If you, one day, are lifted from our helipad or whisked away by ambulance, please know there are people all over the area praying for you at that very moment. Then come back home and join us in prayer for yet others.