I did not grow up in a religious family. We believed in God but did not attend church. In adulthood I had the privilege to care for members of my family in their senior years. Caring for Dad was the longest. It was six years. I did not feel God’s presence and there were times I felt isolated and alone. If I had known the power of prayer, I would have done much better. To uplift you, in your dark moments of caregiving, I asked Bob Stillwell, a dynamic retired minister, “What is the power of prayer and how can it help?” Bob shared the following:
Perhaps the simplest way to understand prayer is to acknowledge that we yearn for a vital relationship with God and that God desires to express unconditional love for us. So, prayer is talking to God, listening to God, praising God, thanking God, often waiting for God and responding to God.
We are encouraged and invited by the nudging of God’s Spirit to open ourselves and share as if confiding in a loving and trusted parent. No magic words or formulas are necessary: only authentic words. They may be spontaneous or scripted. They may be personal, private, or public. And it’s reassuring to recall Paul’s promise to the Roman Christians: “…the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26)
Every exhausted caregiver for someone with dementia understands “groans and sighs” when words simply will not come. It is also powerfully reassuring to know that others are faithfully interceding with their own prayers.
The main power of prayer is the gradual realization that we are not alone. We are not without hope. Imagine a divine healing presence alongside you and your loved one, awakening hope.
Often it helps to have a framework for prayers. One such model follows the acronym “A.C.T.S.” (Adoration…Confession…Thanksgiving…Supplication.)
Begin with Adoration and praise. Admit your human limitations. Recall previous blessings. Express your trust in God’s sovereignty and steadfast love. Imagine a divine healing presence alongside you and your loved one, awakening hope.
Move to Confession. Center on the reality of your situation. Own up to your frailty, exhaustion, resentment, anger, fear, guilt, loneliness. Allow yourself to be forgiven.
Spend time giving thanks. There are positive blessings in every circumstance. Cherish warm memories, moments of respite. Express gratitude for resources, caring professionals who give honest feedback and exercise patience. Thank God for companions on the journey who know what you are feeling.
Finally, ask God for what you need. Try not to limit God to a specific, desired outcome. But seek help, yearn for support, strength, patience, stamina. Pray for self-awareness, courage, gentleness. Ask for trust to be able to release your loved one into God’s future where wholeness and joy await.