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Department: Advanced Practice Nursing

Praying the Perimeters

Dunlap, Jayne Jennings

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Journal of Christian Nursing: April/June 2022 - Volume 39 - Issue 2 - p 75
doi: 10.1097/CNJ.0000000000000928
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As we drove through mountainous terrain and entered the gates of a gorgeous Colorado family camp where I would provide nurse practitioner coverage for a week, I was reminded of how little is under my control. My mind wandered about where I would be needed most during the week. Was I quick, wise, skilled, and knowledgeable enough to do a good job? During those moments of doubt, I felt prompted to pray over the property, deciding to lift in prayer every person who had already arrived or would cross the threshold of the camp. As I prayed, peace washed over me, and I was able to be fully present.

When we approached the main lodge, I looked up at the heads of the children that had emerged from the moonroof, each erupting with excited screams. Their uninhibited reaction illustrated the abandon with which we can approach experiences with childlike faith. In oceans of unknown, we can lose sight of a Christian mainstay: surrender. Our primary focus should be discerning how we can serve God in the present. We have no control over the past or the future, but moment by moment we can allow the Holy Spirit to give us the calm we need. We encounter heavy, worrisome effort if we try to control our own circumstances (Matthew 11:28-30).

Surrender requires creating space in our daily walk to be able to seek and hear God's voice. Throughout the week, across the camp property expanse, I continued to pray over the perimeters: While driving a Jeep, running on foot, following on horseback, flying along a zipline, or sitting around a table, intimacy existed in depending on God to supply what was needed. Because I trusted he was my guide, I freely engaged people without fear. And when no one needed medical attention, my family and I had one of the most meaningful weeks of our lives.

A gift that rivaled our fun was listening to stories of the work crew and summer staff—all volunteer high school and college students who devoted a month of their summer to pour into families. On the last night of camp, our server passed my family this note with tears in her eyes.

Going into the week, I was praying that I would be able to serve a family who got as excited for camp as I was. And wow, the Lord did provide. The first night, I was blown away when you banged the table and waved your napkins around. Then at breakfast, you asked me how you could pray for me and continued to talk to me. This whole week, the Lord has blessed me with interactions and conversations that reminded me of Christ.

What if we more often asked God for guidance and trusted him more deeply to lead us? Proverbs 16:9 explains, “A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (NKJV). If God has given us tools to serve people, his divine help lets us access those tools. Worry does not help. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV).

I am so thankful God answered my prayers over those property perimeters. That powerful experience strengthened my faith and inspired me to pray over my classroom and clinic areas more often. “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory” (Psalm 72:18-19, ESV).

REFLECTING:

  • In what nursing setting or scenario can you apply the author's suggestion to pray and not worry?
  • Recall an experience—personal or professional—when God replaced your worry with his peace or help. Praise and thank him for meeting you there; express your faith in his perfect faithfulness.
  • Looking ahead, in what sphere are you aware that God wants to hear your prayer of trusting him more deeply?
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship