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Prayer and healing is certainly a controversial topic, particularly in these times of “evidence-based medicine” and abundant medical research on the efficacy of treatments. However, if prayer, as a healing tool or treatment, was completely ineffective, it would have disappeared centuries ago. Let me ask you a question - have you ever had a friend you didn’t talk to - really, were you ever able to make a friend without some kind of communication? I’ll answer this question and explain what it has to do with prayer and healing later in the article.

Does prayer really help us heal or is it a placebo? Researchers are mixed in their results. And there is an interesting disconnect between what doctors believe - 70% believe that miracles happen in this day and age, but only 29% believe that medical outcomes are related to “supernatural forces”. Research aside, prayer provides many different things to different people.

1 - Prayer offer patients hope. A positive attitude, hope, and learned optimism play a role in health and getting healthy. When prayer plays a role in a more positive outlook, one’s medical outcome will likely be better.

2 - Prayer serves as a way of connecting to family, friends and others during a health crisis when isolation might be needed or expected.

3 - Prayer provides inner peace. Patients can turn over their worries and fears to God, allowing for reduced stress and improved immune system function.

4 - Prayer can be the beginning road to forgiveness - the lack of which is the root of much evil and bitterness. Bitterness left unchecked can grow like a cancer - figuratively and literally in some people.

5 - Prayer gives patients a sense of control - it is one thing they can do for themselves while they are healing or when there aren’t any apparent answers to health challenges.

6 - Prayer offers connection to God. This is the real answer why prayer is important in healing and day to day life.

The last point is the most important. It provides the answer to the above question regarding communication and friendship. Prayer is the primary method of talking to and hearing from God. When we are in a solid relationship with someone we talk to him or her everyday - sometimes multiple times per day. We listen and communicate with that special person intently. God desires the same from us. He wants to hear from us - about our trials and victories, and our health concerns. In prayer we can hear from Him. Listening to God requires the same thing as listening to our friends, like focused attention, solitude and time.

An assignment for a week. Just try prayer. Whatever time you spend spewing your problems, thoughts, worries, challenges and victories to God, spend the same amount of time listening for His answer. That challenge was offered to me through a wise pastor recently and I have found it quite enlightening and healing. Whether prayer is proven to aid healing in the literature is not really that important when all the other benefits are taken into consideration.

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