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ss triple helix - winter 2004,  Prayers for healing: A Burrswood companion (Book Review)

Prayers for healing: A Burrswood companion (Book Review)

Prayers for healing: A Burrswood companion - Michael Fulljames and Michael Harper - Canterbury Press, Norwich 2003 - £9.99 Pb 141 pp - ISBN 1 85311 503 7

After many years of experience at the Burrswood Christian Centre for Health Care and Ministry, the authors of this little book offer a series of morning meditations with relevant evening prayers to cover 31 days. As chaplain and doctor, their collaboration typifies the Burrswood aim for spiritual and medical care to go together when facing the mystery of healing and suffering. Situated near Tunbridge Wells, Burrswood is an independent hospital and outpatients' department that offers a variety of services including rehabilitation, counselling and palliative care, as well as Christian worship and healing.

We are taken through the sometimes raw emotions experienced by many sufferers at the onset of a disorder, or when awaiting diagnosis and prognosis, both favourable and fatal. A doctor's helpful or hurtful attitude is also made a matter for praise or prayer. Whatever the expected outcome, the sufferer is encouraged to move towards total trust in the God who, through the cross, has identified with human suffering and is able to use it to bring about wholeness of spirit.

There is no unrealistic insistence that healing and cure must go together, so different prayers express fear and acceptance of death as well as gratitude for recovery. Illness can produce many mood swings, yet not everyone experiences them all. If read by a sick person, this book would therefore be most helpful used selectively rather than sequentially. Alternatively hospital chaplains (or others) could mix and match to suit particular needs.

The many relevant marginal annotations and references said more to me than some of the prayers and meditations themselves, yet these are for use by the sick, not the healthy. The authors' intention is to speak 'the common language of suffering', used here to express their own reactions to personal affliction and to convey how others have felt in theirs. It is, therefore, a helpful exercise for any health worker to listen to such messages, realising afresh that in times of trouble God is there, ready to be a very present help and healer.

Reviewed by
Janet Goodall

retired Consultant Paediatrician in Staffordshire and former CMF President

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