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The Waiting Room


Does “waiting” seem to be a normal part of your life? What do you do with unexpected “waiting” times? I am not a very patient “waiter”.

Yesterday was going to be a day for writing and a trip to the hair dresser; I hadn’t decided which to do first, because I was waiting for a return call from my beautician.

Just after my shower, I received an emergency call from my niece; she was having muscle spasms in her back which caused intense pain; she needed to go across town to the walk-in clinic. Due to that spasm, she was neither able to lift her 20-month old daughter, Ellie, nor to drive herself to the clinic. So, my decision between a morning of writing and a visit to the hair dresser was resolved for me.

I drove my niece to the clinic, then, sat with Ellie while her mom was in the examination room. We waited and waited for the exam to be completed. The wait lasted about 2 hours; the examining doctor had decided that x-rays were necessary for a proper diagnosis.

Have you ever sat in a waiting room for 2 hours? With a 20-month toddler in your care?

Actually, Ellie is more than a toddler; she is a runner – with lots of energy!  And the waiting room had lots of running space, including a space in front of an automatic sliding door. It amazes me that a 25-pound tiny toddler can activate an automatic sliding door. It also seemed to amaze her . . . and amuse her. I didn’t actually remain seated for much of the 2-hour waiting period.

Someone once said that a natural way to meet people is through dogs or children. Ellie is a very out-going child, which became evident in the waiting room – each new patient who entered those automatic doors was soon greeted with a “Hi!” and a smile, adults and children alike. As a result it became easy for me to start conversations with some of the other “waiters”, particularly those with young children. In a couple of instances I said we would pray for the sick child, which I did silently, so as not to embarrass or offend.

However, as I look back on the waiting room experience, I feel that I was more distracted by my very active grand-niece than attentive to the Lord. It was only after coming away from the experience that a light bulb clicked on in my head; a waiting room experience can be a natural setting for a season of prayer.

Ephesians 6:18  ”And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert . . .”

People who find it necessary to come into a walk-in clinic are usually faced with an immediate need – a pain, a high fever, a bad cough that won’t go away, numbness, a disabling symptom of some sort that aspirin or Tylenol won’t relieve. Many of them are worn out from coping with their own or their loved ones’ presenting symptoms – many are fearful of what the cause of the symptom might be. Some are anxious about how to pay for the medical expenses related to the illness or disability.

What a potential place of ministry!  According to a clinical double-blind study conducted at a Boston hospital, patients who are prayed for, even when they don’t know they are being prayed for, respond better to treatment and heal faster than those receiving no prayer. It seems to have little to do with their faith, but with the faith of those who pray, in the God who answers prayer.

I wrote last year about a young woman from our church family who was at death’s door; in fact she was thought to be dead several different times when she stopped breathing. In a Boston hospital where we visited her, there was an attendant assigned to watch her. For much of that time, Georgia was unconscious. But the woman prayed sincerely and fervently and with total faith that Georgia would be raised up. Georgia is currently home and working again.

When we spoke with that nursing attendant, we found that her habit is to be a prayer warrior for each of the patients to whom she is assigned as a watcher.

So, the next time you find it necessary to go to a doctor’s office or a walk-in clinic, or an emergency room – or the next time you visit someone in a hospital or nursing care facility, make attentive, listening prayer a part of your reason for being there.

Philippians 6:4b “ . . . in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God . . .”

There are miracles waiting to be delivered, if we learn to make faith-filled intercession a part of our daily lives.

Have you had any “waiting room” prayer experiences you care to share with me? I’d love to hear about it. Are you in one of those waiting places now?

©2012, Marcy Alves

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