Is praying good for your health?
WASHINGTON, April 12, 2014 — Dr. Candy Gunther Brown, an associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University, who recently led a study that demonstrates a positive connection between prayer and better health.
The study focused on those with visual or hearing impairments. According to Brown, “We didn’t generally find that people who were totally deaf or blind to start with ended up with 20/20 vision and perfect hearing, but those with moderate-to-severe impairments, when tested before the intervention, had a much, much improved threshold.”
Moreover, the study’s findings point to many specific examples in which patients did improve after prayer. An elderly woman in Mozambique was one of three tested individuals who experienced a vision improvement after an evangelical meeting. In each case, the participants’ vision improved from worse than 20/400 to better than 20/80.
Whenever religion and health mix, there are bound to be both skeptics and believers, and in this instance, contradictory opinions do exist. One such skeptic, Colombia professor Dr. Richard Sloan, asserts that the basic elements of prayer cannot be quantified.
However, even the most ardent disbeliever cannot deny that there is a surprising range of sources for health benefits. For instance, an article in Men’s Fitness lists a few unique health studies. Among them is a 2009 study by Richard Stevens, a psychologist at Keele University in England, which concluded that swearing relieves pain.
That connection is made to create an open mind, rather than diminish the power of prayer. If swearing may be able to help with pain, then why not prayer?
Dr. Gunther Brown does not discount that the placebo effect is certainly possible. However, she does point to the measurable success being greater in her study than in hypnosis or suggestion studies.
It’s a given that, in order for prayer to create positive health benefits, faith may be required. The Bible teaches that God may answer prayers by giving the patient greater strength and greater faith, not by simply healing them. As groups such as Bible Leage International can affirm, there is a distinguishable power to positive thought.
While prayer is not a complete replacement for conventional medicine— if someone needs to go to the emergency room with chest pains, medical professionals are a necessity— it can certainly be incorporated alongside a range of other healing possibilities. Dr. Gunther Brown’s study, which researched more long-term conditions, observed that individuals who gravitate to prayer also gravitate toward chiropractic, acupuncture, homeopathy, and yoga.
Whether it’s through connecting through a prayer group or doing a downward dog position, people who are ailing are looking for results, hope, and improvement. For individuals seeking to take action and consider another option on their path to improved health, there are those who want to give prayer a chance.
Jeff Barrett is an experienced columnist and digital public relations professional. He has been named Business Insider’s #1 Ad Executive on Twitter, a Forbes Top 50 Influencer In Social Media and has contributed to Technorati, Mashable and The Washington Times.