Blessing of the Hands

Many nurse groups offer a “Blessing of the Hands” during Nurses Week. This is also a great spiritual practice for graduating nursing students.

Invite an ordained pastor or chaplain to officiate, or ask a nursing leader or faculty advisor to preside. Nurses in some groups simply pass the vial of oil and bless one another’s hands.

Worship music playing softly in the background creates a prayerful atmosphere.

oilAny oil may be used, but olive oil is customary. Special scented oils can also be obtained through Christian supply stores or online. Before using the oil, it is customary to bless it using the following or a similar prayer:

Almighty, loving Lord, bless and hallow this oil which you have ordained for anointing your servants and for healing the sick, so that, when they are made well, they may give thanks to you, the living and true God. Grant, we pray, that those who use this oil may be delivered from all suffering, all infirmity, and all wiles of the enemy. Free them from any kind of adversity. May each one, made in your image and redeemed by the precious blood of your Son, be filled with your compassion and walk daily in the light of your Word; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Each nurse extends both hands, palms up. Make sure your name tag is visible, or give your name before the blessing. With a small dab of oil on the thumb, the person offering the blessing makes the sign of the Cross on each palm while saying:

(Name), I anoint your hands in the name of the Father who created, loves and sustains you, the Son who redeems you, and the Holy Spirit who empowers you. May these hands bring comfort and healing to those they touch, to the honor and glory of God.

prayingA Prayer for Nurses

Almighty God our heavenly Father, you declare your glory and show forth your handiwork in the heavens and in the earth. Deliver us in our nursing practice from the service of self alone, that we may do the work you give us to do in truth and beauty and for the common good; for the sake of him who came among us as one who serves, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

(Adapted from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979)


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