I know for sure that during the last month my dad was in the hospital, there were a lot of prayers from our family, friends, and community. Prayer has been one of the links to God/Universe/Higher Power that people have used for thousands of years. It’s, in essence, a way for us to surrender our deepest struggles to something greater than ourselves. We find solace in prayer.
Reasearch on the effects of prayer and healing has been mixed and controversial. One of the first research studies was conducted by Randolph Byrd, a cardiologist working at the University of California, San Francisco. He asked for a select group of people to pray for those that were hospitalized with cardiac issues. The study involved close to 400 patients, half of whom were to be prayed for and the half were not. No patient knew which group they were in. Byrd reported that those that were prayed for needed fewer drugs and were less likely to require ventilator support.
A more recent study, and probably the largest one on prayer and healing, was conducted by Harvard University Medical School cardiologist, Dr. Herbert Benson. It involved over 1800 patients, divided into 3 groups, 2 of which were prayed for by members of several congregations. Prayer was shown to not have any significant effect on outcomes.
We have to consider that there are so many variables that cannot be controlled in these studies. Perhaps, those that weren’t assigned a prayer group still had their families and friends praying for them. Possibly, just knowing the “potential” to be prayed for might have calmed patients. Maybe, their own beliefs and attitudes about health and wellbeing contributed to their healing. Perhaps, many were praying for themselves.
Whether it’s the power of prayer or a good attitude, people with a belief in a Higher Power are shown to have greater physical and mental wellbeing. Often, this belief creates a physical response in the body that is the opposite of stress reactions. We know for sure that there is, in fact, a mind/body link.
Whether or not research supports the power of prayer in healing does not truly matter to me. I know that prayer offers me connection – to a larger community and to a Divine Source. It clearly gives me and many others peace of mind. During illness, we may reach for that and allow that peace to wash over us. At the least, prayer has the ability to improve our emotional and spiritual wellbeing. And, for me, that’s enough!
What are your thoughts or experiences on this subject matter? Feel free to share.
True Prayer is Magical and has incredible Powers…let’s talk 2 God everyday 🙂
There is certainly a power in faith and belief, Dimple. Thanks for stopping by to comment! – Deepali
i was frustrated yesterday that I couldn’t get to my reading! I saw the title of your post and couldn’t wait to read it. I have experienced so many personal miracles in prayer. Whether my “answers” have come through to me in the form of insight or at times circumstances simply changing. I know that for me there is a Divine Source I connect to, and the faith that goes hand in hand with going to the Source offers me a support that goes beyond a study or an explanation–but I love to read the studies, too. I also know that my prayer life is completely different when I’m bowed down with troubles. In times of illness, or when so concerned for a loved one–like you were with your dad–oh my! I run to prayer and need to hold on tight. Then there is a peace that comes. Thank you for your personal sharing, Deepali. I have really been pleased to get to know you on a deeper level. Blessings to you and yours…Debra
Debra, I, too, feel like I have been led by my instincts so many times. I think our instinct IS that deeper connection to the Spirit or Source. I know it has guided me in miraculous ways. Yes, the studies are interesting but there is so much that cannot be explained or defined, no matter how hard we try to put a scientific spin on it! Thanks for sharing. -Deepali