Is It Appropriate for my Doctor to Pray with Me?

My doctor offered to pray with me before my surgery. I was quite taken aback, as I do not pray regularly even though I'm a spiritual person. Honestly it made me slightly uncomfortable that my doctor feels like he needed to ask God to help him with the surgery. He is a board-certified doctor, and a really nice, normal guy, not some wacko. I'm wondering if this is common? Do other doctors offer to pray with their patients?

Doctor Answers 14

Who is praying with whom?

Thank you for your very interesting question.  In my opinion, it is okay for you and your doctor to pray together before surgery if you are the one that initiates it and asks for the prayer. If you did not ask for the prayer, then the surgeon may pray in private before the surgery if he wishes.  You shouldn't feel obligated to be included in prayer if you didn't ask for it.  Talk to your doctor and let him know your feelings about it.  I have no problem with prayer; however, I do understand the discomfort that you may feel pressured when the offer is unsolicited.  I hope this helps.

Nashville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 182 reviews

Praying Before Surgery

Although I do not participate in any organized religion I have several friends who do and are surgeons and some of them offer to pray with the patient before surgery. If the patient for some reason is uncomfortable I am sure the doctor takes no offense when the patient declines. When I had surgery my surgeon offered that and I was happy to have any and all help making the surgery go well.

Ronald V. DeMars, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Prayer before surgery

I am a spiritual person and yet I would not personally suggest to a patient that we pray before surgery as this may not be comfortable for them and amy not fit into their belief system.  I think it is a personal thing and unless requested by the patient I would not bring it into the relationship.

Richard P. Rand, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

Praying with a surgeon prior to surgery is not for everybody

Very interesting and unusual but great question. By the other responses here it appears that this practice does occur to some extent in certain areas of the country and in those areas this may be acceptable. Having been in practice almost 25 years, I have never been asked by a patient nor have asked a patient to pray with me prior to surgery. If I were a patient, I would be taken a back. If I were the patient, the only thing that I would want to pray for with my surgeon prior to surgery would be to ask for divine intervention in preventing Obama from being re-elected and thus avoid any more damage to our country and further annuling of our individual rights and liberties. (Sorry for the political commentary!)

Steven Turkeltaub, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Prayer and Surgery

Thank you for an engaging question.  Your discomfort may have risen from the implied pressure of religious perspectives from another without congruence in the beliefs of the two participants.

Consider that surgery involves mental and spiritual aspects in the physical alteration of tissue structure. Is it not appropriate, then, to use prayer, meditation, or simply a moment of silence to focus these qualities to produce the desired optimal outcome? 

Randy Wong, MD
Honolulu Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

Praying before surgery

Wow what a great question. I am proud to pray with a patient, I consider it an honor and entirely appropriate. The only issue I see is if the surgeon and the patient do not share a common faith.  As a patient, you may want to inquirewith the surgeons front office staff , see if you share a common faith. As a Christian, I consider it a delight to share a quiet, low key prayer just before a surgery. It is comforting to a patient seeking guidance and asking for surgeon wisdom.

Charles Virden, MD
Reno Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 70 reviews

How common is Praying with your Surgeon Before Surgery

 Being a New Yorker now practicing in Memphis, Tennessee I was taken aback when I first saw a surgeon and patient praying just before surgery in the holding area many years ago. Memphis considers itself the buckle of the Bible Belt and we seemingly have a church on nearly every block. All hospital meetings begin with a prayer and it is common to have a short prayer on the public speaker system in each our large hospitals. 

Most of my colleagues are spiritual and some are very religious but few routinely ask their their patients to pray with them before surgery. I find this to be inappropriate. The comfort and confidence our patients place in us is very important. If the patient asks for a prayer or wearing a favorite religious object during surgery I would gladly do it regardless of the atient's faith BUT I will not surprise my patient who has not indicated an interest or an nclination with a call for a common prayer which may be interpreted as the granting of last rites and as you exemplify, erode your confidence in the surgeon. 

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 108 reviews

Prayer and Surgery

Praying is not unusual prior to surgery.  Some surgeons will pray in private while others will pray with the patient.  If you are uncomfortable with the surgeon praying with you prior to surgery then just discuss that with him.  I am sure that he would respect your wishes.  Your decision obviously does not affect the surgeon's ability to pray privately prior to the operation.


Is It Appropriate for my Doctor to Pray with Me?

I've always felt like any praying the surgeon does should be done in private, and before surgery. Might be a bad sign if it's done during surgery!!! I want to make my patients feel as comfortable as possible especially right before surgery and I would be afraid this may add to their already understandable anxiety...

John J. Corey, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Praying before surgery

this is always a touchy subject.    i would be surprised and kindly decline..  if you like your doctor,  i would just consider that they are a person of strong religious feeling..  if you are not comfortable...  find another physician

Jed H. Horowitz, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 109 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.