Thursday, May 2, 2013

Health Care and Prayer

There is something to be said about the healing power of prayer. For thousands of years, since the dawn of civilization in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, mankind has had the ability and opportunity to communicate with God. Over time, that dependence has dwindled; however, that change is not due to the movement of God away from man, but from man’s movement away from God. Man has increased in stature in his own mind, and God has lessened in importance.

The Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, and most all ancient cultures believed in multiple deities, and prayed to all of them. There were hundreds of gods, and each one had a defined purpose—for the weather, for crops, for fertility, and for any and all kinds of everyday needs. It wasn’t until the Hebrews through Abraham brought back the concept of a monotheistic religion that people started considering that you could get by with talking to only one God.

One of the most desired components of a religious life is prayer. People pray about everything. Some wish to have more success, and others wish to be free of problems. Many individuals want wisdom and still others desire help with everyday challenges. Too often, though, God unintentionally may be seen through the uplifted eyes of the faithful as a cosmic Santa Claus.

One major aspect of prayer is the ability to see definitive results in some cases when it is used for health care needs. As science investigates connections between the mind and the body, some scientists have found that a person's faith can help him or her live a longer, healthier life. Prayer may lower blood pressure and heart rate, both of which can contribute to a more virile immune system, according to this website: http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/alternative/prayer-healing.htm .

Other studies have found that people who are religiously active tend to be healthier, according to the same website. This may be due to the power of prayer, but it could also be explained by a tendency toward clean living, as many religions call upon their devotees to foreswear health risks like alcohol, cigarettes and casual sex. In addition, people active in their communities of faith may receive the help of social bonds within their religious groups. One study at the University of California - Berkeley factored in smoking and other lifestyle choices and still found that religious people have less risk for disease and death. Inside the scientific community and out, many accept that praying can prove beneficial for a person’s health.

According to US News & World Report, while most doctors aren't about to hand their stethoscopes over to a higher power, more and more medical professionals are taking seriously the relationship between spirituality and physical health. "There's been a sea change in the way the medical community looks at spirituality."

In recent years, a growing number of rigorous studies have shown that spirituality—including prayer, meditation, and attendance at religious services—benefits health in ways that science hasn't fully explained. Among other effects, regular worship and other spiritual acts appear to lengthen life expectancy, strengthen immunity, improve the body's response to stress, and boost other measures of physical health according to the magazine article found here: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2008/12/22/health-prayer-should-religion-and-faith-have-roles-in-medicine .

However, it is natural to be frightened when you become ill. You probably feel vulnerable. You worry; and you want to know that everything is going to turn out all right. Sometimes you may feel alone even when loved ones are by your side. The illness lies inside, and no one else knows exactly how you feel. Prayer has the power to transform your fear into faith. It reminds you that you are never alone. Everything you are, body and soul, is in the hand of God, whose presence fills the universe and who is as close to you as your own breath, especially for Believers. No matter what this unpredictable world sends your way, with God by your side you can find the strength to confront your fears. Prayer welcomes God’s healing power. Much more information on this subject can be found at this website: http://www.helpguide.org/life/spirituality_prayers.htm .

Here are a few Bible verses that lend credence to prayer and healing:
3 John 1:2 ESV: “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.”

1 Peter 2:24 ESV: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed."

Isaiah 53:5 ESV: “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.”

James 5:14-16 ESV: “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

Today, May 2, 2013, marks the National Day of Prayer, a day set aside on the first Thursday in May each year for the nation to pray for healing. President Harry Truman signed the official law passed by Congress in 1952 recognizing this day to be observed each year. But prior to the nation's founding, the Continental Congress, acknowledging the need for national prayer, issued a proclamation recommending "a day of publick [sic] humiliation, fasting, and prayer" be observed on July 20, 1775”.

“ The Honorable Congress having recommended it to the United States to set apart Thursday the 6th of May next to be observed as a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer, to acknowledge the gracious interpositions of Providence to deprecate [to pray or intreat that a present evil may be removed] deserved punishment for our Sins and Ingratitiude, to unitedly implore the Protection of Heaven; Success to our Arms and the Arms of our Ally: The Commander in Chief enjoins a religious observance of said day and directs the Chaplains to prepare discourses proper for the occasion; strictly forbidding all recreations and unnecessary labors.” –George Washington.

The Washington Post provides today an Op Ed article by Pastor Greg Laurie, Honorary Chairman of the task force for the National Day of Prayer, and the founder of the Harvest Crusades: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/wp/2013/05/02/on-the-national-day-of-prayer-time-for-a-revival/ .

When you go about your business today, at some point during the day pause and give thanks to God who provides wisdom, healing, forgiveness, and grace. Ask Him to work in your life and in America to heal the nation and to be more personal in your life every day.

Until next time.

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