Don’t Overlook Prayer for Natural Healing

When I decided to make this site, I was anxious to add prayer to the list, because I have seen the effectiveness of prayer in my life. I’ve also heard about the awesome studies that show that prayer works. Today I came upon this article in the Huffington Post that reaffirms this admonition – Don’t overlook prayer for natural healing!  The whole article is awesome (I’d like to put the whole thing in here), but here are some of my favorite highlights:

Don’t Overlook Prayer For Natural Healing

Don't overlook pray for natural healing

Don't Forget To Pray

If you want to achieve maximum health, here are a few things that you should do: exercise regularly, eat nutritious and minimally processed foods, drop those extra pounds — and pray. That’s right, regular prayer and meditation has been shown in numerous scientific studies to be an important factor in living longer and staying healthy.Prayer is the most widespread alternative therapy in America today. Over 85 percent of people confronting a major illness pray, according to a University of Rochester study. That is far higher than taking herbs or pursuing other nontraditional healing modalities. And increasingly the evidence is that prayer works.

It doesn’t matter if you pray for yourself or for others, pray to heal an illness or for peace in the world, or simply sit in silence and quiet the mind — the effects appear to be the same. A wide variety of spiritual practices have been shown to help alleviate the stress levels, which are one of the major risk factors for disease. They also are powerful ways to maintain a positive outlook and successfully weather the trials which come to all of us in life.

The relationship between prayer and health has been the subject of scores of double-blind studies over the past four decades. Dr. Herbert Benson, a cardiovascular specialist at Harvard Medical School and a pioneer in the field of mind/ body medicine discovered what he calls “the relaxation response,” which occurs during periods of prayer and meditation. At such times, the body’s metabolism decreases, the heart rate slows, blood pressure goes down, and our breath becomes calmer and more regular.

[…]

Dr. Andrew Newberg, director of the Center for Spirituality and the Mind at the University of Pennsylvania conducted a study of Tibetan Buddhists in meditation and Franciscan nuns in prayer which showed comparable decreased activity in the parts of the brain that are associated with sense of self and spatial orientation in both groups. He also found that prayer and meditation increase levels of dopamine, which is associated with states of well being and joy.

The effects of spiritual practice appear to be more than just the result of enhanced focus and concentration. Ken Pargement of Bowling Green State University instructed one group of people who suffer migraines to meditate 20 minutes each day repeating a spiritual affirmation, such as “God is good. God is peace. God is love.” The other group used a nonspiritual mantra: “Grass is green. Sand is soft.” The spiritual meditators had fewer headaches and more tolerance of pain than those who had focused on the neutral phrases.

[…]

In one National Institutes of Health funded study, individuals who prayed daily were shown to be 40 percent less likely to have high blood pressure than those without a regular prayer practice. Research at Dartmouth Medical School found that patients with strong religious beliefs who underwent elective heart surgery were three times more likely to recover than those who were less religious. A 2011 study of inner city youth with asthma by researchers at the University of Cincinnati indicates that those who practiced prayer and meditation experienced fewer and less severe symptoms than those who had not. Other studies show that prayer boosts the immune system and helps to lessen the severity and frequency of a wide range of illnesses.

A recent survey reported in the Journal of Gerontology of 4,000 senior citizens in Durham, NC, found that people who prayed or meditated coped better with illness and lived longer than those who did not.

[…]

But what about praying for others? On the question of whether intercessionary prayer works, the jury is till out. Slightly over half the research done to date suggests that it helps, wile the rest concludes that there is no measurable effect. Critics of these studies say that there is a big difference between praying more or less mechanically and at a distance for a stranger because a researcher has told you to do so and the heartfelt prayers for friends and relatives which arise spontaneously from within.

Prayer, unlike say the behavior of a rat in a maze, cannot be directly observed, and the subtle effects on self and others are difficult to quantify and assess. Moreover, it would be wrong to view prayer as merely a technique to heal illness and promote physical health.

Spiritual practice aims to connect the individual with God or a Higher Power, to open one to the Divinity dwelling within the self, and to make one fully present to life in the here and now. These are not goals that lend themselves to being measured in double blind experiments. The sense of deep peace and radiant well being that spiritual practitioners in different religious traditions report are also not testable by scientific means.

What science can tell us is that people who pray and meditate trend to be statistically more healthy and live longer than those who do not. Whether these boons are merely unintended side effects of still deeper spiritual benefits remains a matter of faith.

I tried not to make to much reading here, but I sure put a lot of that article in. Couldn’t help it! I just had to put as much evidence in as possible so you don’t overlook prayer for natural healing.

Prayer is another thing where there are a million and one opinions out there. Some of you might not even believe in God. But the fact is that prayer has some real benefits that the most scientific skeptic can point to and say – “You’ve got a point!” I like it that he talks about these studies, but like I said at the top, personal experience is my biggest reason for my advice not to forget to pray.

As you may know, I love music and couldn’t help but put some in here for you to enjoy.

 

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