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people of praise

Studies (and life) prove it: Prayer works

Brown

I know a man who was once very sick and angry who later became a well, kind and caring person. Not only I but many others know this man and have seen the changes.

His restored health and improved behavior were the result of prayer. It’s an approach that is on the rise but remains something neither a medical researcher nor a trained psychologist would be able to document with quantitative proof – despite the clear evidence of change.

Such experiences beg the question whether life experience is at least as valid as clinical research and trials. To actually experience the benefits of prayer usually adds credence to prayer. People who have used prayer to maintain or improve their physical health with effective results look to their life experience rather than statistical data for the proof of prayer.

Those who question the power of prayer could find that research studies provide enough proof for them to consider trying prayer for solutions to health concerns.

One such study is examined by Debra Williams in “Scientific Research of Prayer: Can the Power of Prayer Be Proven?” (www.plim.org/PrayerDeb.htm). The study was done on 393 patients in the San Francisco Hospital Coronary Unit on the therapeutic effects of intercessory prayer.

The control group was not prayed for by the participants in the study, although there was no control over the factor that others such as family members and friends would likely pray for the health of at least some of them. However, all those in the group that received prayer were prayed for by the participants in the study and others as well.

Not surprising to those of us who pray for our health, the members of the group prayed for were healthier than those in the other group. The prayed-for group had less need of having specific medical procedures performed.

Williams concludes, “These studies have shown conclusive evidence of the power of prayer. Time after time, the outcomes of these tests have shown the reality of the force of a higher being and our ability to communicate with Him.”

I have relied on the power prayer for solutions to all life problems including health and, until recently, I failed to see the value of statistics. Now, I better understand the value of such studies, because by taking out human opinions and providing measurements they have the potential to reduce people’s fear of risk and increase their confidence to explore prayer as a possible approach to better health.

Providing more case studies of healings through prayer could provide the same results; however, effectively researching lives transformed and spiritual growth gained through prayer would entail researching individual’s communion with God.

That’s probably not possible, because of the element of faith involved. It’s also because one approach to maintaining health and healing illness – the allopathic, for example – would be unlikely to have tools and research methodologies that would work in studying an approach – prayer, for example – that is based on a different set of principles.

Medical science focuses on biological changes; prayer involves changes in thought, and we don’t today have the tools/methodologies to study that.

But even though we can’t quantify understanding God’s love for man and how that results in health of the physical body, that doesn’t mean we can’t study the historical and modern-day examples and try to better understand how it works.

For many, this means increasing their understanding of prayer and the healing work of Jesus (and those who came before and after him). On that journey, life experience can be as valid as studies and statistics.

Katie Brown lives in Fort Wayne and is a media and legislative liaison for Christian Science in Indiana. She writes about spirituality and health and is also a Christian Science practitioner and teacher. If you are interested in submitting a column (750 words or less), send it to Terri Richardson, The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802; fax 461-8893 or email trich@jg.net. Include your name, religious organization and a phone number where you can be reached. For more information, call 461-8304.

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