The following guest blog is written by my friend, Steve Graham. Much of his career as an editor has been centered on spiritual reporting. He writes from his home in Natick, MA.
The National Institute for Healthcare Research has joined the crowd. According to an article by WebMD, the NIH “refused to even review a study with the word prayer in it four years ago.” But that has recently changed. For the first time the private nonprofit agency funded a study on prayer and healing.
The article tells about one cardiovascular specialist at Duke University School of Medicine, Mitchell Krucoff, MD, who has been studying prayer and spirituality for 15 years. He explains that early studies were anecdotal, “small and often flawed.” But that these days “we’re seeing systematic investigations—clinical research—as well as position statements from professional societies supporting this research, federal subsidies from the NIH, funding from Congress.”
More to the point, Krucoff goes on to say that “all of these studies, all the reports, are remarkably consistent in suggesting the potential measurable health benefit associated with prayer or spiritual interventions.”
You can’t make people or foundations explore what they don’t want to. Neither can you stop them from studying what interests them. And nobody throws their money into projects that they perceive to be of little value—at least not for very long.
Which is all to say that what’s motivating more and more investigations into the healing effects of prayer, across a broad spectrum, is humanity’s honest search for new and better answers to its health problems.
And evidently the research is yielding enough good results and sparking enough hope to justify more studies. WebMD cites statistics from the Handbook of Religion and Health, a collection of well over a thousand studies. Among the findings: those who don’t attend church regularly are on average hospitalized three times longer than those who do; religious participation has kept heart patients significantly less likely to die after surgery; elderly churchgoers are half as likely to suffer stroke.
Today’s conclusions on the link between mind and body, thought and experience, prayer and healing, may not all fit into neat little packages. And few are yet centered on the idea that prayer can do it all on its own. But collectively they bear out the findings of Mary Baker Eddy, who pioneered this modern-day exploration of spiritual healing in the late 19th Century.
Especially with the passing of the recent healthcare legislation in the United States, we can expect more and more exploration into healthcare solutions that go beyond traditional medicine to answer questions like,”Can prayer heal?” And as the evidence increasingly confirms a “yes” answer, it’s only natural to expect the growing acceptance of a curative power that is not drug or matter-based.