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New research is exploring the connection between biology and the spiritual practice of prayer. It has, for some time now, offered insight on how the body heals. Many people have used prayers to help them heal from many illnesses; from heart attacks to cancer.

To verify the validity of the healing power of prayer, many research institutions such as the Geisinger Medical Center in the USA have maintained a close eye on the long-term recovery of patients who receive prayer as a remedy. At the John Hopkins Hospital, doctors are studying women who have breast cancer and say a meditative prayer twice daily. Neurologists at The University of Pennsylvania are studying changes in brain scans of meditating Tibetan Buddhists and praying nuns. These are just some of the examples of the scientific research that prayer is undergoing.

The purpose of these experiments to see whether prayer affects the biological disease process in people that use prayer. A few years ago, the scientific community would have ignored this kind of study. Evidence has amassed to set a solid foundation for consideration. Medical curiosity and acceptance has begun to increase. An estimated 77% of studies on the affects of prayer have confirmed health benefits in their patients. Many studies have also shown that individuals who pray regularly and attend religious services live longer, healthier lives than those who do not. The same holds true even when age, health, habits, demographics, and other factors are considered.

Prayer affects the quality of life, whether you pray for yourself or others. In a study at Dartmouth Medical Center, medical researchers and doctors best predicted the survival of 200 heart surgery patients based on the degree to which the patients drew comfort and strength from prayer. According to a research conducted by the University of Miami, AIDS patients became long-term survivors when they were more likely to be those involved in religious practices and or prayer. Studies have also shown that prayer has also contributed in the recovery from depression, alcoholism, hip surgery, drug addiction, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, heart attack, bypass surgery, and several other ailments.

To some physicians the power of prayer is too powerful to ignore, almost like withholding an important medical procedure from a patient. In several medical centers around the world, almost a thousand patients with potentially life threatening diseases participated in the MANTRA project, a randomized trial of intercessory or distant prayers. The names of the patients where given to groups like Carmelite nuns, Buddhist monks, and Sufi Muslims who prayed for their recovery. In a primary test study, prayer recipients had shown 60% to 98% fewer complications.

Although it is unknown what physiologically happens in human beings when they pray, scientist have considered that prayer may create the state of peace and calm that lead to beneficial changes in the cardiovascular and immune system. Studies through brain imaging technology have confirmed changes in blood flow in specific regions of the brain during prayer and meditation.

The belief in the power of prayer is strong and influential, an increasingly strong foundation based on facts and proofs, and not just unfounded, blind hope and religion. In various American polls, 82% say they pray and 75% believe prayers can heal. In the end it is accurate to say that prayer is correlated to proper health as much as a proper diet and exercise are.

The true value of prayer to humanity is Hope. Hope in an answer from God, which is the father of all that lives and that is why He loves and cares for us.

We sometimes ask ourselves “why does our creator or ‘higher power’ allow so much evil and pain to occur in this world if he indeed is filled with so much love and compassion”. The answer is free agency to all.

Ironically, we often forget that we also possess and share that same love and compassion here in this life with our friends, parents, loved ones and especially our children. Part of loving our own is allowing them, without fear (which comes from the other side of the spectrum of the balance) to experience life by their own decisions. This allows efficient and effective learning to occur in each individual’s life. Control through intervention and fear does not allow the learning process to occur, very much in the same way an overprotective parent does not allow a child to explore for fear of the child’s injury.

Although injury is painful and uncomfortable it allows the most efficient form of learning and enrichment in life and a feeling of connection to life and reality. In other words it make us feel alive! An ancient philosopher once said, “In order to appreciate the ‘good’ we must also experience the ‘bad’”. This is all part of the balance in life, the Yin and the Yang, if you will. Pain is also a very important part of growth and development. It is an essential part of life that we must not scrutinize but accept and embrace if we are to truly understand ourselves.

The purpose of prayer is to communicate with our higher power our interest in his opinion and counsel, aid in times of need and anything else like a child here in this life would communicate with its parent. We do not wish to be invasive or pre-provide our child with anything they haven’t asked for yet. So in this same manner we like to provide after a child asks, God or our higher power is respectful of these loving boundaries as well, which Is why he has provided prayer as a means to ask. No one is ignored, no one is more loved or important that the other. Go on…just ask. Pray.

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