Is faith a factor in promoting good health? Is prayer good medicine? Research scientists are confirming the formerly radical notion that prayer positively affects health, although the reason why remains a mystery. Researchers are not seeking to verify a deity. Instead, they are measuring the impact of prayer on patients in controlled studies.
In studies at numerous medical centers, prayer and faith have been shown to speed recovery from depression, alcoholism, surgery, drug addiction, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, heart attacks and bypass surgery. Studies have also shown that persons who pray have lower blood pressure and healthier immune systems than those who don’t pray.
In one study at Dartmouth Medical Center, one of the best predictors of survival among 232 heart-surgery patients was the degree to which the patient drew comfort and strength from religious faith and prayer.
In another six-year study of 4,000 men and women at Duke University, researchers found the risk of dying for persons who frequently attended religious services was 46 percent lower than for those who did not. Taking care of our physical selves by eating carefully and exercising combined with caring for our spiritual selves by praying regularly seems to be the current prescription for good health.
Maybe Reverend Paul S. Deever of Kansas was right when he said: “Prayer may be the Internet of the soul reaching around the world.” (198)
Sources: Dr. Larry Dossey, author of Prayer is Good Medicine; Dr. Dale Matthews, author of The Faith Factor; and Dianne Hales, “Can Prayer Really Heal?” Parade magazine, March 23, 2003