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Prayer and Healing in Healthcare

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Prayer and Healing in Healthcare October 15, 2012

Prayer versus modern medicine is a very controversial subject in today’s modern world. There are very strong debates and cases offering strong evidence on both sides of which one may be better or more effective than another. It all comes down to personal opinion stemming from the religious background of the patient, parents, or caregiver. One side argues that prayer can be used in lieu of modern medicine including medications, surgery and different therapies and that it will cure the sick and rid them of illness. The other side disagrees with opposing views that prayer cannot replace medicine and cure the sick. Many studies have been done on prayer and healing but it is hard to prove or disprove whether prayer actually heals or if it simply gives the patient hope and comfort in their journey with illness.
Being a controversial subject many scientists have disagreed on prayer healing because there is not much evidence to prove it as a fact. In parts of Christianity there are people that strongly believe in the healings through prayer and what great powers there are and can be experienced when you devote your life to Christ. There are certain shows that we all have seen on television where a person goes on stage and is healed by the power of God through a practice or a procedure called “being slain in the spirit” ("Faith healing," 2007). Scientists have a hard time taking this information as credible because there is not much evidence to back it up. In fact they have found that most of the people are still sick afterwards and are not rid of their sickness like they have been led to believe ("Faith healing," 2007). Scientists explain this as a temporary remission effect or a placebo effect.
The subject of prayer effects on health has been in the spotlight for a very long time and especially lately ever since the field of medicine has advanced. Being an interesting topic some have set out to do a study and see the type of results it brings. Byrd’s double blinded study was just that which contained of two groups of people that are going through the same difficulty dealing with coronary heart disease. His results have revealed that the group that was being prayed for had 20% less requirement for antibiotics and two times less likely to suffer congestive heart failure. The studies have also shown there is no doubt that stress reduction has played a part in recovery of the patients which is correlated with prayer (Narayanasamy & Narayanasamy, 2008).
There are some accounts of prayer curing a sick patient without intervening with medicine but it is also skeptical because it may all depend on the type of illness a person had and how aggressive and progressed that it was at the time. In the case of Madeline Kara Neumann, prayer did not heal her as her parents thought it would have when they denied her medical care and instead chose to solely rely on prayer. Madeline grew sick very rapidly and despite concerns from family members, her parents decided not to take her to a doctor but to pray for her as they though she was suffering a spiritual attack. Madeline died within a month of falling ill from diabetes although her parents remained confident in the healing power of prayer. In the article it states that “A review of similar situations found that between 1975 and 1995, 140 U.S. children died after parents withheld treatment for religious reasons when survival rates with medical treatment exceeded 90% “(O'Mathúna & Lang, 2008).
Although spiritual meditation or prayer have been proven to relieve stress, anxiety, as well as improve positive moods and tolerance for pain, there has not been any concrete evidence that it actually heals diseases and different types of health issues just as serious(Andrade & Radhakrishnan, 2009). It has not been proven that prayer can heal or replace medicine; it certainly cannot hurt to implement both for patients who have a strong connection to their religion and strongly believe in the power of prayer. Prayer has been proven to have a positive effect on people and that it promotes a more positive outlook on life which in turn creates a more relaxed state of mind that alleviates stress. Less stress means a healthier life and people that do practice religion have been found to recover a lot faster than the people who do not ("Faith healing," 2007). Prayer without medicine has not been proven to be enough when dealing with illness, however medicine without prayer has. In the best interest of the patient medicine should never be omitted from the equation when trying to recover from disease or illness but the two can be used together instead. There is no doubt that prayer gives hope to people and it comforts them in a time of need and allows them to be at peace with their current situation in life while also making it easier for them to accept the inevitable, it should not be the sole treatment for a sick patient.

Andrade, C., & Radhakrishnan, R. (2009). Prayer and healing: A medical and scientific perspective on randomized controlled trials. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, Retrieved from http://ehis.ebscohost.com.library.gcu.edu:2048/ehost/detail?vid=3&hid=4&sid=fbecdb6c-333a-48c7-82b2-a29db1e51405@sessionmgr112&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl
Faith healing. (2007). In Chambers Dictionary of the Unexplained. Retrieved from http://library.gcu.edu:2048/login?qurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.credoreference.com/entry/chambun/faith_healing
Narayanasamy, A., & Narayanasamy, M. (2008). The healing power of prayer and its implications for nursing. British Journal Of Nursing, Retrieved from http://ehis.ebscohost.com.library.gcu.edu:2048/ehost/detail?vid=3&hid=3&sid=fbecdb6c-333a-48c7-82b2-a29db1e51405@sessionmgr112&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl
O'Mathúna. , & Lang, (2008). Medicine vs. prayer: The case of Kara Neumann. Pediatric Ethics, Issues, & Commentary, Retrieved from http://ehis.ebscohost.com.library.gcu.edu:2048/ehost/detail?vid=5&hid=124&sid=fbecdb6c-333a-48c7-82b2-a29db1e51405@sessionmgr112&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl…...

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