Christian Culture

Praying Hands: Lifting others in prayer



Presbyterian Homes & Services campus pastors offer Praying Hands Ministry training to residents, staff, volunteers and family members to help them offer prayers that are relational, conversational and trinitarian.

Hands folded on Bible

Michele Skagen, who lives at Kirkland Crossings in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, devotes hours each day praying for residents and staff, in addition to sending them cards of encouragement. Trained in Praying Hands, she not only prays for others but regularly meets with Campus Pastor Mark Triller to review residents’ needs and concerns.

What explains her earnestness (and ferocity) in lifting others in prayer? Michele says, “I have a deep concern, compassion and love for others.”

Her advice to others about prayer is beautifully simple: “Go to Jesus first and ask for help,” Michele counsels. “Jesus is always with us and always shows compassion.”

Getting started

“People just don’t know how to get started,” observes Pastor Mark. “They tell me, ‘I want to pray, but I don’t know what to pray for.’ I tell them, ‘Sometimes when we’re at a loss for words to pray, we go to the words from Scripture and pray that back to God.’”

This is just one of the tips included in Presbyterian Homes & Services’ (PHS) Praying Hands Ministry for those connected to PHS. The program’s goal? To help residents, family members, volunteers and employees feel comfortable praying to God and praying for and with others.

The importance of being available

Wanda Benson, a resident at Mill Pond in Ankeny, Iowa, was trained in Praying Hands several years ago but has long believed in the importance of praying for others. A former nurse, she has witnessed up close the pain and struggles that many people must endure.

“There are so many needs and so many sorrows in people’s lives,” says Wanda.

Those needs spur Wanda to pray – but to also do more. “It’s not just prayer but helping people,” Wanda asserts. “We have a lady on our floor who is having eye problems so several of us are taking turns bringing meals to her and helping in any way we can.

“There’s a lot of ministry going on just among residents here,” Wanda explains. “There are many people who care about others.”

Wanda sees “availability” as the key that unlocks caring. “Sometimes I seek out new people and get to know them,” she notes. “I try to be a friend to make a friend to show them Jesus,” she says.

Dan Amesbury, nutrition and culinary director at Harbor Crossing in White Bear Lake, Minn., coleads a weekly prayer group made up of eight to 10 residents and staff to pray for people in the Harbor Crossing community and beyond. Dan says, “This is an avenue to come together with like-minded people and open up to God, knowing that he hears us.” Dan adds, “It’s just a blessing I hope more people will take advantage of.

“Prayer was not something that came easily to me,” Dan reflects. “Part of it was just being a guy with an I’ll-do-it-myself attitude. As I’ve grown, I’m much more comfortable praying openly with others today than I was years ago. Life is easier with prayer.”

Prayer and the priesthood of all believers

Campus Pastor Laura Kozamchak of Harbor Crossing sees the Praying Hands Ministry as a tool that helps Christians better understand their identity in Christ. “I believe in the priesthood of all believers,” says Pastor Laura. “My role is to encourage believers to walk in their God-given gifts – which are prayer and having the Holy Spirt.

“God is with you,” Pastor Laura proclaims. “Your prayers are powerful. Whether you are praying one-on-one – which we teach participants to do through Praying Hands – or simply praying alone, your prayers do matter.”

For Pastor Laura, simply the offer of prayer opens conversations about spiritual matters. “It astonishes me how open people are to God and how accepting of prayer they are, regardless of their faith background,” she notes. “They want me to pray, and I feel that God really works through prayer.”

Embracing mystery and opportunity

“There is so much mystery in prayer,” Wanda concludes. “Sometimes it seems like God is silent, but God always hears and answers our prayers. The thing we can be assured of is God is present and will never leave us, whatever we are going through.”

Perhaps Wanda summarizes the Praying Hands Ministry best: “We are open to the Holy Spirit always,” she states. “Whoever God sends our way that day … we will be available.”

Want to learn more about the Praying Hands Ministry? Contact a Presbyterian Homes & Services campus pastor.

For more about Presbyterian Homes & Services’ ministry, see:



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