To Present a Clear View of Health Care Treatments, Prayer Should Be Included

To Present a Clear View of Health Care Treatments, Prayer Should be Included

© GLOW IMAGES Model used for illustrative purposes

by Don Ingwerson

I’ve found that prayer is crucial to everything I do and believe. So you can imagine how interested I’ve been to find prayer surveyed and reported as part of national studies on alternative and complementary therapies. A 2007 report indicated that 77% of the public used prayer in connection with their health and that prayer was among the 10 most common complementary and alternative (CAM) therapies.

What’s interesting is that these survey results directly impacted follow-up activities. As an example, grant monies funded the GWish project, which developed guidelines for medical and spiritual leaders to work together to address and improve patient health – and currently 90% of medical schools in the U.S. include spirituality in their curricula.

But now, although prayer will still be part of the National Institutes of Health’s CAM survey, it won’t be reported to the general public because it doesn’t fit the “new definition” for CAM therapies. This may be why a precipitous drop in CAM use between 2002 and 2010 was reported. “Due to the subsequent decision to reclassify prayer, which was previously included as a CAM modality and is no longer included in the definition, the number declined to 38.3 percent, still a substantial portion of the population. Prayer remains on the survey, but is no longer part of the CAM definition or report.”

I can understand the need for working definitions, but to exclude prayer use in the report is questionable.

Health is far more than the treatment of body and brain. It’s important to include the whole person – mind, body, spirit, and consciousness – when working toward health. In fact, as health researcher Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “Prayer, watching, and working, combined with self immolation, are God’s gracious means for accomplishing whatever has been done for the Christianization and health of mankind.”

In the Bible Jesus had a difficult time getting his view of prayer and healing accepted by the leaders at the time. His work did not fit the philosophy of the age, but the public experienced the healing results on through the ages. With this in mind, it would seem logical that public prayer usage be reported and that the value of this therapy be presented to give a clear picture of people’s actual preferences in their health care choices. Let’s consider all information that could benefit the health of mankind.

Article first published in Blogcritics.

About the author

Don Ingwerson Don regularly blogs on health and spirituality and lives in Laguna Beach with his wife - both Christian Science practitioners. He brings his years serving the public in education to his work as a liaison of Christian Science, where he maintains contacts with the media and legislative offices.


  1. Evelyn Brookins says

    I understand the health/medical community’s dilemma – because they have no way to identify what is meant by “prayer.” To some it may be pleading with a divine being for some kind of assistance. To others it may be some “spiritual” statements. Even though our Bible gives us ample instruction on the subject, and every other faith practice believes in the importance of prayer (meditation, etc.) still it is difficult to define – except as taught in Christian Science. To a medical practitioner nothing tangible is happening in prayer and the reason it is effective remains a mystery to those who examine and measure physicality. When what seems to be solid substance is dissolved through prayer – it has no rational explanation to the materially-based practitioner.
    Yet, the physical condition is constantly yielding to a positive outlook, the reversal of fear and malice, the confidence in divine goodness as true substance – but can’t be rationally explained by microscopes and x-rays.

  2. Rhonda says

    Great Blog and great response Evelyn. I see the dilemma. But, perhaps as long as people are praying and and feeling its benefits in their life and health maybe it doesn’t matter how they are praying. It does seem sensible that if prayer is on the survey it should be included in the report, whether it is part of the CAM therapies or not. It could just be included as a separate item then. (=

  3. Pamela says

    Thanks Don, Evelyn and Rhonda. Prayer definitely should be included in the report and as a separate item is a good idea because at least it is being reported. However, Evelyn explains this nicely as she is correct in the fact that prayer is tough to identify because everyone prays differently and there is no material way to measure it. But whether CAM includes it or not doesn’t change the fact that prayer is effective. To many people have been blessed by prayer. Many individuals in the interfaith group in my area have all been blessed and healed through prayer. So…whatever the so called experts say just because you can’t see it, touch it or taste it or measure it…prayer still works and it has worked for me for over 50 years.