Article first published on Blogcritics.
How would you answer these questions? Would you like to live longer; be more flexible, centered, balanced?
According to “Tap into the Power of Prayer,” those who pray are able to demonstrate the above qualities to a greater degree than those who don’t pray. The article reports a landmark study in the 1980’s that states, “…prayer was tested in heart patients in a large hospital. Half of the patients were prayed for; half were not. The results revealed a significant therapeutic effect from the prayer.
Even more interesting, distant or intercessory prayer worked without the knowledge of the recipient, reports Larry Dossey, M.D. in his book In Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine.
Robert Hummer, a University of Texas sociologist and one of the authors of the landmark study stated, “It does seem that behavior is influenced by church or religious involvement that affects expectancy.” So if you’re interested in living longer, attend church regularly. Results from this study (involving 22,000 people over a nine-year period) showed that regular worshippers lived 10% longer than those who never attended religious services.
“When you include prayer in your daily life,” says Catholic and cardiologist Stephen Sinatra, MD, “You may become more open to life, more flexible, more centered. You may find it easier to resolve your problems and cope with stressful situations. Your relationships with others will deepen.”
These results, along with results from other studies, are of great interest to me – not because of the extrinsic values they support, but because these results are also identified with better health. These values do promote a quality of life that helps one to be physically independent and to make independent decisions about health.
The separation of mind, body, and spirit was not always the case in the history of medicine. But for whatever reason, science distanced itself from the wisdom of our ancestors, which included supportive approaches for healing. At present it appears that the whole person, including the spiritual, must be addressed in any quality health care system.
And according to an NIH study in 2002, of the ten alternative medicines studied, prayer was the one alternative used more often than any other.
Many religious leaders and medical professionals have indicated that prayer has a place in determining one’s health. One source that I’ve found very helpful is Mary Baker Eddy, who wrote Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. In these writings, she presents a clear pathway for prayer to influence one’s health, which leads to a longer life that is more flexible, centered, and balanced.