Recently a friend posted news of her illness on Facebook. Within hours she had many “Likes” and it was heartening to note that many friends had offered to pray. This is not a unique situation. Those who utilize social media can attest to similar incidents where prayerful support is offered to those in need. Various forms of social media have made it easier to connect in prayer, and while technology has caused greater visibility, the practice of group intercessory prayer is not new.
Several years ago, Dr. Frank Richardson, a professor at Loyola University Maryland, founded The Intensive Prayer Unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore which offered prayerful support for patients upon request. Praying for patients provides them comfort and hope by partnering spiritually with their treatment plans.
Such a partnership is similar to what pastoral counselors bring to clients. Like other mental health counselors, we provide psychological care, and we offer something more. Pastoral counselors who graduate from Loyola University’s program are equipped to provide mental health care through the integration of spirituality and psychology. Being a pastoral counselor goes beyond having a career; it is a vocation, a calling to respond to the needs of our clients holistically.
It is this holistic response which I bring to my practice with a goal of providing the best possible care. Although my way of intervention reflects my clients’ spiritual foundation, I look to the Bible for personal guidance and recognize that:
- I am humbled by my clients’ willingness to trust me as they share their deep emotions. I find support in Psalm 37:3 “Trust in the Lord and do good.”
- I value the gift of hope. When clients carry feelings of hopelessness, I hold hope for them until they can accept it themselves. I find support in St. Paul’s blessing in Romans 15:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace.”
- I appreciate the power of prayer. While I do not pray with my clients during session, I pray for them often. I find support in Mark 11:24, when Jesus said “I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
Prayer is a powerful tool. The Intensive Prayer Unit reflected an insightful and influential element in establishing an organized medium for intercessory prayer that still exists, expanded through social media. It is possible for those in need to receive prayerful support universally and immediately. So the next time you find an online friend standing in need of prayer, join the Intensive Prayer Unit, and don’t just “Like,” – PRAY.