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"Dr. John Ayres , 45, an orthopedic surgeon at Bradenton Orthopedic Associates, prays with patients before surgery. 'I think that prayer works, and more doctors should try it,' he said. Ayres started praying with patients five years ago when he met Dr. Morgan Cooper, a Bradenton anesthesiologist at Blake Hospital and a former Christian missionary in Africa. 'Dr. Morgan would pray with all of the patients before he put them to sleep, and I told him that I appreciated him doing that,' Ayres said. 'I was sorry he didn't do all my patients because when I didn't have him as my anesthesiologist, they didn't get prayed over.' Morgan made a suggestion. 'He said, "When I am not there, you can pray with them yourself,"' Ayres said. 'That's when I began.' His experiences with prayer have been powerful. 'I had the occasion to treat a prisoner from the Manatee County stockade,' Ayres said. 'He was a young man with a history of violent crime behind him. ... He was only 19. I was reluctant to pray with him because I thought he would reject my overtures. When I asked him if he wanted me to pray with him, he said, "Yes," and started to cry. I suspect these are the first kind words he had ever heard from a male figure of authority. We helped him, and I hope he is on a path to a better life.' ...

"It is difficult for Ayres to talk about prayer without emotion. 'When you become a physician, you put on a white coat and become a man of science,' Ayres said. 'And then when you take on that role, you have to put aside who you are as a person. I think most patients know we are human and doing the best we can, but between the best we can do and the final result, there is a gap. I think that God can sometimes step in that gap and bridge the abyss between our best efforts and what we are trying to accomplish. That is prayer.'"

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