Life Advice



Ask Amy: An offer of prayer doesn’t sit well

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear I’ll Pray: My research into this has led me to read a number of studies regarding the practice of praying between health care workers and patients. Although most seem to reflect attitudes regarding patients asking health care workers to pray with them, one study reflected a situation similar to your husband’s. Quoting a 2018 study published by the National Institutes of Health: “Most Americans pray; many pray about their health. When they are hospitalized, however, do patients want an offer of prayer from a health-care provider? This project allowed for the measurement of hospitalized patient's responses to massage therapists' offers of a colloquial prayer after a massage.

“After the intervention, 78 patients completed questionnaires that elicited quantitative data ... In this sample, 88 percent accepted the offer of prayer, 85 percent found it helpful, and 51 percent wanted prayer daily. Patients may welcome prayer, as long as the clinician shows ‘genuine kindness and respect.’"

Even though it might be unusual, I don’t think it is necessarily unethical for a health-care provider to offer to pray with a patient, even in the patient’s own home. Doing so might help to build a connection between the therapist and patient. Prayer might help to relax the patient and “center” his intentions toward his own health and recovery.

The offer might also feel like coercion.

How did your husband feel about this practice? He should prepare himself to respond before his next appointment.

A reminder that this is his treatment, and HE gets to decide how to handle it, regardless of how you feel about it.


Dear Amy: My boyfriend and I often run into another couple at our favorite watering hole.

They're very friendly and seem to like us a lot, but they're always absolutely plowed whenever we see them.

The husband will latch onto something and say it over and over.

Last time we ran into them, he kept telling me to stop crossing my arms because it was a defensive position. He even yelled it from across the room.


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