What do you pray in an ICU room?
I had no idea.
But I was about to find out.
I had driven to the Intensive Care Unit at a Denver hospital to be with some of our dearest friends. Marc, their beloved husband, father, brother, uncle, and son, had been in a terrible car accident less than three days earlier. He had been hit by a drunk driver and was in critical condition, in an induced coma, and on a ventilator. The strain of the past few days was evident on the faces of this large, loving family as we hugged and visited in the ICU waiting area.
When it was my turn, my sweet friend Cathy led me through the door and into the ICU. Marc is her husband of almost 25 years. She had hardly left his side since the accident, snatching sleep in the uncomfortable vinyl chair next to his hospital bed.
At that moment, however, the chair was occupied by Emily, the youngest of their four adult children. She and her dad have always had an affectionate and close relationship. Her pain was palpable.
Cathy and I flanked the chair, hugging Emily and rubbing her back and shoulders. We stood there mostly in silence, the three of us holding onto each other, the regular rhythm of Marc’s breathing the only sound in the room.
Then I sensed the nudging of the Holy Spirit to pray.
Pray? Here? Now? How?
Doubting my ability to utter an intelligible prayer in this place, I ignored the prompting. It persisted.
I finally managed to squeak out a feeble offer of prayer. Emily whipped her head around and nodded with a hopeful, pleading expression, as if to say, “What took you so long?” Emily loves to pray for people, and has graciously prayed for me on more than one occasion. How could I let fear hold me back from interceding for her family in their desperate time of need?
So, grasping hands, we bowed our heads and came before the throne of Grace.
My prayer went something like this:
Oh Lord, You feel the pain. You see the suffering. You, Jesus, are the “Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.”* You understand. You’re here. You see. You know. You care. You are Good, even though this is not good. We know you will bring good out of it. We ask You to work a miracle. You are the Healer. You are able. You are worthy of our trust. Please come and do what only You can do. In Jesus’ name, and for Your glory. Amen.
That was it. That’s what came out. At the time it felt painfully inadequate. Later, I realized I had simply affirmed truths about our God. It hit me that in moments of crisis, what comes out is what we’ve put in.
Cathy, Emily, and I, along with Marc’s mom and sister, are in a weekly Bible study together. We’ve spent a lot of time in God’s Word over the years, learning about His character and His promises. We didn’t know it then, but we were training for such a time as this. A time when we’d need to stand on these truths.
God is Good.
God Is Able.
God Can Be Trusted.
When life changes, HE does not. Our faith is built on a Solid Rock, the unwavering character of a Faithful God.
Marc shares our faith. He knows and loves the One who extends mercy and offers eternal life to all who ask. Because of this assurance, we know his outcome will be Good, whatever happens.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28, ESV)
All things. Even this. As lovers of God, we have this confidence.
Knowing who God is and what He has promised is what anchors the believer in Christ. It’s what we hold onto. It’s what holds onto us.
…for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. (2 Timothy 1:12b, NASB)
We have a Hope that prevails, even in ICU rooms. That wraps its arms around us in our devastation and comforts us. That steadies us in the fiercest storm. And helps us when we don’t know how or what to pray.
His name is Jesus. Emmanuel. God with us.
Do you know Him?
*This description of the coming Messiah is found in Isaiah 53.
Here is a link to Marc’s CaringBridge site, where his family is posting regular updates and prayer requests:
If you feel led to help meet the family’s financial needs during this difficult time, here is his GoFundMe page: