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Prayer Works Wonders

Posted Oct 02 2009 3:07pm
I say a silent prayer, nearly a million times a day...being the parent of a special needs child, and being surrounded by so many others on the same journey...you tend to form that silent bond, creating a "family", if you will, that you ask to be looked over from afar.

I am not one to discuss my religious views...always been told not to talk about politics or religion unless I want to be embedded in a heated debate. I spent my junior high and high school years in church, but I have only attended a service a few times since moving from my hometown. My beliefs have wavered, and changed throughout the years... Now that I look back, maybe it was for the socialization in the beginning, but either way what better place to be than church? The exposure, if nothing else, stuck with me...

Since then, I've come to realize that I cannot label myself as any certain organized religion in particular, since I have beliefs stemming from more than just one...I just consider myself being very spiritual, I guess you can say. I believe in love and happiness and treating everyone with the utmost respect to share in the happiness, maybe I'm just a hippy ha~ha! Regardless of my beliefs, my strongest belief has become in the power of prayer. Some say it's under my dire circumstances that I suddenly believe in this invisible power, maybe...but it's been proven to heal and fulfill so many times, so why not stick with it?

I've recently stumbled upon countless articles speculating the relationship of prayer with healing...even scientific evidence of what miracles prayer can achieve in different circumstances. Here's the most recent that I've read, which is published in a publication I received from theUnity ministry, and the one that sums up my idea in the greatest way without me rambling on and on:

Prayer Works Wonders
by Bernie Siegel, M.D.

What do we do when we or someone we love comes up against a serious health challenge? We may feel overwhelmed and without resources to help us. We don't know where to turn. What I do, and what I encourage other people to do, is pray.
Many studies have been done in hospitals on the effects of praying for people who are ill. The results are exciting: Those who were prayed for healed better and faster!
There is mystery in healing, but we can accept the mystery even if we don't understand why or how it happens. And I believe that scientists need to be open-minded to explore the mysterious and the unexplained.
Hopefully, when our knowledge increases, we will know how prayer heals. I believe that we will find that when we pray for someone, energy (for lack of a better word) goes out to that person and helps him or her recover. We may never know for sure, but that doesn't bother me. I've learned that prayers work, and I use it. I used it in the operating room, where I held my patients' hands and they knew I was praying for them. They were benefited by prayer. Studies have shown that if someone is in the room with women~loving them and caring for them~while they are going through labor, they will have less pain and fewer cesarean sections.

Praying for Others
The fact that people are helped by the love and peace of the people caring for them is more easily accepted scientifically. But how do we explain the people who are helped when, unknown to them, someone is sitting in the lobby of the hospital praying for them? Or what is someone at Silent Unity, hundreds of miles away, is praying for the? We know prayer helps these people, but how? This is what we need to explore.
Just because I don't understand how prayer works or what's happening doesn't keep me from doing what's beneficial. The mystery of it excites me because it opens more options and potential.

Let Go, Let God
I'm so in awe of life in the universe, and my sense of awe is always increasing! While speaking or doing interviews, I've been in various places with people who look terrific, but when they begin to tell me about themselves, I'm amazed by their stories. They say things like, "I was told by the doctor that I have cancer (or multiple sclerosis or AIDS) and there's nothing they can do for me. So I went home and said, 'God, this is Your problem.' And such a peace came to me at that moment."
They go on to say, "And I got well! My disease is gone?" Personal prayer opened them up to resources they didn't even know they had at a conscious or intellectual level. Now they are open to the unconscious and creative energy of the universe.
As a scientist, of course, I like to see proof that prayer works. Several years ago, Randolph Byrd of San Francisco General Hospital did a study of people who had had heart attacks. Their names were selected by a computer. Some were to be prayed for and some were not. He studied four hundred people and found that those who had been prayed for had fewer complications after their heart attacks than those who had not received the added prayer support.

Prayer Works!
It took him quite awhile, but he finally got his study published in a medical journal. Later, in letters to the editor, doctors expressed their anger over the study. They called it unscientific, which isn't true because it was totally scientific. They asked, "why is this in a medical journal?" Well, that's exactly where it needs to be~in a medical journal to shake people up and make them think about what's going on! To make them realize that there is something here which might not be explainable right now, but nevertheless is helping and healing people.

That's right...it's scientifically proven that prayer can heal. In another article, most recently read, here's the more scientific reasoning to how this can be...fromScience Daily(a website I occasionally follow to stay up-to-date in medical research)

The Healing Power Of Prayer?

ScienceDaily (June 18, 2009) — Health and religion have always been intertwined, most obviously through prayer on behalf of the sick. Does intercessory prayer for sick people actually help heal them? For thousands of years some people have believed so. But new Brandeis University research in the Journal of Religion this month shows that over the last four decades, medical studies of intercessory prayer—the prayer of strangers at a distance—actually say more about the scientists conducting the studies than about the power of prayer to heal.

Intercessory prayer has been the subject of scientific study since at least the nineteenth century, when an English scientist, assuming that kings were prayed for more often than others, sought to find out whether those prayers were answered. He concluded that they were not, but that prayer might be a comfort to the people praying anyway.

After talking with physicians who wondered about the power of prayer to heal patients, Brandeis sociologist Wendy Cadge, an expert on the intersection of religion and medicine in contemporary American society, set out to research medical studies of intercessory prayer going back to 1965, the first year such studies were published in the English language medical literature.

"This analysis in the Journal of Religion is the first to trace the social history of intercessory prayer studies and to situate them in their medical and religious contexts," said Cadge, who this year is the Suzanne Young Murray Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. While there she is working on her forthcoming book, Paging God: Religion in the Halls of Medicine.

Cadge evaluated eighteen published studies on intercessory prayer that were conducted between 1965 and 2006. Collectively, the studies provide a fascinating snapshot of changing American religious demographics, evolving ideas about the relationship between religion and medical science, and the development of the clinical trial as the gold standard of biomedical research, said Cadge.

"I do not know why physicians and scientists conducted these studies," said Cadge, "but personal religious beliefs appear to have played a role, along with curiosity.

"The earliest studies undertaken in the sixties were based exclusively on Protestant prayers, while more recent studies, reflecting growing social awareness of other religions, combine Christian, Jewish, Buddhist and other prayers, Cadge discovered. Some studies suggested that prayer worked, while others said it didn't.

The researchers leading the studies applied clinical scientific methodologies to the study of intercessory prayer, but Cadge found that even that approach was fraught with problems. For example, researchers asked whether the people not being prayed for by the intercessors were truly a control group, since their family members were probably praying for them. Researchers also asked what the right "dosage" of prayer would be, how prayers should be offered, and what to do about non-Christian intercessors.

"With double blind clinical trials, scientists tried their best to study something that may be beyond their best tools," said Cadge, "and reflects more about them and their assumptions than about whether prayer 'works.'"Reflecting a recent shift toward delegitimizing studies of intercessory prayer, recent commentators in the medical literature concluded: "We do not need science to validate our spiritual beliefs, as we would never use faith to validate our scientific data."

Regardless of the "proof" or lack thereof...my prayers will continue to go up and I'll remember that someone else is in control of our destiny, someone besides a worldly being. And I truly believe that prayers have been answered and my son, along with many other children and adults living and defying the odds, is living proof of that! Brayden, among many others, has defied all odds against him...every day is no less than another miracle, he is living and breathing with a condition "not compatible with life" and thriving with it. All simply because of the mounds of people praying for him, from near and afar...the people who will not accept that there is nothing left to do...the people who believe.

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