-- Effective as Complementary Medicine?

Science and prayer--and what they have to do with healing the body--is one subject that just keeps coming up. The question often asked is "Do prayers heal?" In the February 23rd article this year in Time magazine, radiologist Dr. Andrew Newberg, psychiatrist Dr. Richard Sloan, and chaplain Reverend George Handzo have much to say.

"We can bring science and religion together in a dialogue that may ultimately benefit them both." - Dr. Newberg
"It's impossible to know how much prayer is received, and since yo don't know that, you can't determine dose." -Dr. Sloan
"In terms of health, the issue is how do we account for--in the health-care system and in the practice of health--the process of faith? And how does that integrate into how medicine gets practiced?" -Rev. Handzo

What Health Concerns Prayers Affect

Since this site concerns alternative avenues to health, we'll consider what praying may be used to effect.

Anecdotal evidence includes cancer, chronic pain, skin problems, immune system dysfunctions, depression, and more. From National Institutes of Health, here are the studies with RSS Feed from just the last 14 days:

  • breast cancer neoplasms
  • coronary artery bypass grafting surgery
  • glaucoma
  • breast reconstruction surgery
  • distant healing for HIV/AIDS

    "Prayer is a path when there is none." -
    Noah benShea, American poet, philosopher, author


And with over 2000 separate studies in the last 6 years alone, there are far too many to list them all. Some find prayer works, some cannot prove it, some are ambiguous.

But by far the most powerful use of a praying faith centers around how it is applied, rather than a specific medical concern. Turns out that praying is most effective when the patient knows that others are praying for them! (Even more so than praying for yourself.)

Interested in reading more about prayers for others? This link guides you to a

quilt ministry that does just that!

Prayer as Holistic Health Care

No way to lose here...

...because as an alternative health modality, prayers can be added to--or used alongside--any other medical treatment. Think of prayers as complementary medicine to conventional interventions! Examples:

  • radiation with prayerful attitude
  • chemotherapy with meditative thoughts
  • doctor-prescribed meals while thanking the Provider of the meal
  • surgery with prayers lifted up before during and afterwards...

You get the idea. This modality falls into the category of "Can't hurt; may help."

No current health issue for you? That's alright. Praying with your health routine also works well. It fits quite naturally with stress relief exercises, meditation, breath work, yoga, long-distance running, T'ai Chi and progressive relaxation, to name a few.

Who's Looking at the Science-Faith Healing Connection?

Universities, medical technicians, individuals and private foundations are all looking into this. One community of scholars at Duke University aims to push the interdisciplinary field into a "new era of significance, visibility and impact."

The Templeton Foundation, a private philanthropy in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. Mission: address big questions and foster dialogue between science and religion through grants, prizes and book publishing.

National Institutes of Health' alternative medicine division (NCCAM) has been studying prayer's effect on the health concerns further up on this page. If you'd like to tour the research section of their site, see

For high-tech imagery of the brain...your brain on meditation, your brain at worship, etc. see That's what these University of Pennsylvania researchers are looking at: brain scans.

The Time article ends,

"Doctors, patients and pastors battling disease already know that help comes in a whole lot of forms. It's the result, not the source, that counts the most.
reporting by Alice Park and Bryan Walsh / New York. To read it yourself, click on photo at right to go directly to that page online.

The Research Goes On...

Looks like the connection between healing and faith will continue to fascinate and intrigue researchers for now and into the future! May this be useful information for you in your pursuit of optimal health.

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