Does Prayer Heal?

Medical science, once much more aligned with the idea that prayer was a healing forced to be reckoned with has since left those ideas in the dust­­ why? We try to make the answer more complex than it needs to be but basically it's about control. We all want to squash death and remain eternally young. Several events leading up to and through World War II made us begin to believe we could actually wipe away disease and human suffering.

After the invention of the microscope, the focus turned to germ warfare and antibiotic therapy to kill the germs. Steroids were synthesized and used widely in more chronic disorders. At the time, all seemed well. We are only now beginning to reap the rewards of dealing with nature in an unnatural way. In spite of even more highly technological advances our control continues to slip. New diseases have replaced old ones, old diseases are beginning to rear their ugly heads and both are more deadly.

Most experts will agree that we may continue to conquer and cure disease but the price for living on this planet, for being alive is PAIN­­ at least at times. Most of us have long periods of time without the struggle of illness and pain and then other times when we seem to have pain pain and more pain.

Anyone who has, or continually suffers from some kind of chronic pain, has found a way to deal with that pain and has moved on with their lives, can tell you certain undeniable truths about life. One of those truths is that although physical pain can be intense, there are other deeper issues surrounding their pain and dysfunction that kept them stuck. It's usually not the physical pain that is deadening but the emotional and spiritual pain that truly brings a person to their personal rock bottom.

When someone first enters through the doors of illness, dysfunction and pain, they go through various stages: shock, denial, grief, bargaining (with a higher power) and acceptance. The length of time it takes an individual to process and reach resolution will vary and will depend on many things­­ mostly on the magnitude of the loss. If we deal only with the physical side of things and not the emotional and spiritual side, the body may heal to some degree but the other deeper issues will return. We simply did not complete all our assignments. It is at this time that many individuals will realize they must turn to a power greater than themselves for help.

A recent study on prayer done here in the U.S. of 500 individuals undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery showed individuals in the control group (250) that were prayed for, even without the individual's personal knowledge needed less pain medication, had shorter hospital stays and needed fewer antibiotics than those who were not prayed for. Of course, The Journal of The American Medical Association flatly denied that prayer had been scientifically proven to be helpful and they are probably right in their statements. They are not in the business of endorsing the unknown.

Most individuals at some time in their life can point to an incident where their loved one, friend or family member was at death's door­­ even the doctors had given up, yet through some miracle of prayer, meditation or vigil seemed to have tipped the scales in favor of life. The medical community prefers to call these spontaneous remissions.

Anecdotal as most of the information may be about the ability of prayer to heal, stories of people healed from pain and illness abound and has a rich history in our culture as well as around the world. Belief is a powerful healer, if we are willing to allow it.

Till next time, Rebecca.

Posted to Zephyr Online October 26, 1998
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