U.C.M. Newsletter of Joy, Humor, Laughter, and Inspiration
Vol. 10 pg 12 (03-24-11)
As many of you are aware, our UCM family has been experiencing quite a few losses, illness and financial crises. With each request we have prayed for the people experiencing such difficulties. These prayers have been put into a prayer bowl and people from all over the country lend their voices to entreat help from the creator.
As I was starting to write this message I had a very heretical thought – what if prayer doesn’t work? So, as with most problems these days – I went onto the inter-net and read many interesting articles.
I found that many alternative medicine therapies emphasize healing from a holistic mind, body, and spirit perspective and that these approaches to medicine have gained increasing acceptance in recent years. Almost everyone prays when faced with a traumatic injury like spinal cord injury (SCI) or a debilitating disease such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or cancer. Can this prayer actually help one’s health? Substantial scientific evidence indicates yes.
Prayer-like consciousness has been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, protect red blood cells, alter blood chemistry, and increase blood oxygenation. In one study, skin wounds healed at a much greater rate when treated with a spirituality-related treatment.
In a controversial study carried out by cardiologist Dr. Randolph Byrd in July 1988, nearly 400 heart patients were randomly assigned to either a group that was prayed for by a home prayer group or a control group. This was a rigorous double-blind study designed to eliminate the placebo effect. In such a study, neither the patient nor doctor knows who is receiving the intervention (i.e., prayer). Patients who received prayer had better health outcomes, including a reduced need for antibiotics and a lower incidence of pulmonary edema.
Prayer researcher Jack Stucki carried out double-blind studies evaluating the effects of prayer on the body’s electromagnetic fields. In these studies, the electrical activity in both the brain and body surface was measured in subjects in his Colorado Springs laboratory. Nearly 1,000 miles away in California, spiritual groups would either pray or not pray for a subject. The electrical activity measured in the prayed-for subjects was significantly altered compared to controls.
Prayer is (and always has been) an integral and valuable part of medicine. Western medicine tends to focus on prayer as a separate entity, but recently there is a movement towards returning to a more “spiritual medicine.”
Prayer is universal in many forms including such concepts as meditation, Reiki, or laying of hands, as well as the traditional view of praying to a single deity or several deities. Religions, throughout the centuries, have often incorporated prayer and healing. In fact the same person, usually a medicine man or woman, dispensed medical and spiritual healing.
In the Lakota tradition, the sacred pipe is a form of prayer. The tobacco, containing herbs with both male and female medicine, acts as the connection “to the divine energy of the Great Spirit.”
The Tibetan Medical Institute in Dharmsala, India follows the tradition that “both plants and prayer are combined to make medicine.”
Catholics have been praying to God and Saints for centuries for healing of the sick. Holy water often used in prayer as a connection to God is used to anoint patients in order to transfer its healing affect.
In the Jewish tradition, Prayers are often said at services requesting health and well-being for members. Petitioning God to allow divine grace to flow into their world, into their lives, and into their bodies was part of the practice of the Hasidic masters, and other Jewish mystics before them. In the past, many Rabbis were also medical practitioners.
Islamic traditions state that “it is the command of Allah for a patient to seek for a medical cure.” This tradition lies in the example that Muhammad set for his “ummat (community)” through his own search of medicinal cures.
Meditation has been used in many religions as a form of prayer healing, a silent connection to the divine. Buddhism offers prayer banners for healing, in addition to what are known as Prayer Wheels. Prayer Wheels are inscribed with om mani padme hum mantras. Turning a prayer wheel is the equivalent of chanting the prayers inscribed on the wheel. These Prayer Wheels purify negative karmas and aid in stopping disease. Buddhist and Hindu prayer ceremonies called pujas are often used to invoke blessings.
For centuries, prayer and medicine were interlinked. Prayer (or spirituality) was an integral part of a patient’s recovery. It is not necessary for prayer to be performed solely by the ailing person, as “intercessory prayer,” which is prayer offered for the benefit of another, had the same spiritual healing value. But not until recently, and more particularly the last ten years, has Western medicine started to look into the intrinsic value of prayer. More and more research is being conducted to study the effectiveness of prayer on healing.
“Physicians and healers agree that the main goal of all healing arts is to improve quality of life. If we accept the premise that prayer and spirituality can enhance quality of life, then these practices are far too important and intriguing to be ignored by science and medicine.” Rebekah Pratt
Isn’t it great to have science, history and cultural differences all come together to not only agree but substantiate what we at UCM have been doing for over 100 years?
Johnny had been misbehaving and was sent to his room. After a while he emerged and informed his mother that he had thought it over and then said a prayer.
“Fine,” said the pleased mother. ”If you ask God to help you not misbehave, he will help you.”
“Oh, I didn’t ask him to help me not misbehave,” said Johnny. ”I asked Him to help you put up with me.”
A little boy was kneeling beside his bed with his mother and grandmother softly saying his prayers. ”Dear God, please bless Mummy and Daddy and all the family and please give me a good night’s sleep.”
Suddenly he looked up and shouted, “And don’t forget to give me a bicycle for my birthday!!”
“There is no need to shout like that,” said his mother. ”God isn’t deaf.”
“No,” said the little boy, “But Grandma is.”