by Tory McJunkin M.D, and Paul Lynch M.D.
The act of prayer is one of the most shared activities across the globe and has been for centuries. “Prayer” can be defined as “to address God with adoration, confession, pleading, or thanksgiving.” People welcome prayer into their homes and lives to commune with God and also to plead for help when they are afraid or in distress.
One of the most frequently quoted texts regarding prayers for healing is James 5:13-16:
“Are any of you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? Let them sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. ; And anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.”
Complementary and alternative medicine is a well-known and utilized form of health care that is not traditionally known to be a part of conventional Western medicine. It includes a variety of methods such as deep breathing exercise, natural products, meditation, diet, massage, and prayer.
In a 2002 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 75% of U.S. adults age 18 or older have used complementary alternative medicine (CAM) with prayer specifically for health reasons. In the past 12 months of all people using CAM, 43% prayed for their own health and 24.4% prayed for others’ health and 9.6% were involved in a prayer group. (Barnes 2002).
Catherine Stoney, Ph.D, a well-known program officer in the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) Division of Extramural Research and Training, supervises many grants in NCCAM’s mind-body portfolio. She noted:
“There is already some preliminary evidence for a connection between prayer and related practices and health outcomes. For example, we’ve seen some evidence that religious affiliation and religious practices are associated with health and mortality–in other words, with better health and longer life. Such connections may involve immune function, cardiovascular function, and/or other physiological changes.”
However, she added, this is by no means proven:
“For some individuals, religious practices are an effective way of coping with stress, and the beneficial health effects may come about by reducing stress. For others, religious practices may not result in reduced stress or be associated with health benefits. It can be challenging to separate out these effects because people have different ideas regarding the meaning of various practices. For this reason, we are particularly interested in understanding the impact of personal, positive meaning on health.” (NCCAM 2004)
The idea of prayer is believing in that which is not seen. Studies have shown that patients who incorporate prayer into their lives have a better quality of life, whether they are praying for themselves or someone else in their time of need. If you or someone you know wish to know more about the power of prayer and healing, please call Arizona Pain Specialists today to see how they can not only provide you with traditional Western pain management, but also integrate the power of prayer into your treatment plan!
- Barnes PM, Powell-Griner E, McFann K, Nahin RL. Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults: United States, 2002. CDC Advance Data Report #343. 2004.
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Mind-Body Medicine: An Overview. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Web site. 2004