Thursday, 07 May 2015 15:31

Recognizing the Power of Prayer

Written by  Bob Crittendon
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A few weeks removed from the men’s basketball championship game, I want to steer you again toward Duke University, not to the hardwood, but toward a leading academic who relates the correlation between religion and health.  Yes, Duke has a Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health - its director is Dr. Harold Koenig.

He is quoted in a piece on the Newsmax website, in the Health section, saying that, “Studies have shown prayer can prevent people from getting sick — and when they do get sick, prayer can help them get better faster.”  He referred to an exhaustive analysis of more than 1,500 reputable medical studies that “indicates people who are more religious and pray more have better mental and physical health.”


Koenig also stated that “...out of 125 studies that looked at the link between health and regular worship, 85 showed regular churchgoers live longer,” adding, “There’s a lot of evidence out there.”


Tom Knox, who was quoted in the Newsmax article, wrote a piece which was published on the U.K. Daily Mail website back in 2011.  He wrote at the time, “…I have spent months investigating the science of faith versus atheism, and discovered startling and unexpected evidence.” He wrote, “…a growing yet largely unnoticed body of scientific work, amassed over the past 30 years, shows religious belief is medically, socially and psychologically beneficial.”


Knox cited just a few examples:

In 2006, the American Society of Hypertension established that church-goers have lower blood pressure than the non-faithful.


In 2004, scholars at UCLA suggested that college students involved in religious activities are more likely to have better mental and emotional health than those who do not.


In 2006, population researchers at the University of Texas discovered that the more often one goes to church, the longer he or she lives.


The American Journal of Public Health reported on a 5-year study of nearly 2,000 older Californians.  Those who attended religious services were 36 percent less likely to die during that half-decade than those who didn’t.


In the Newsmax article, Koenig mentioned a study published in the Southern Medical Journal that demonstrated that prayer has a remarkable effect on patients with hearing and visual deficiencies.


That article also referred to research at San Francisco General Hospital, which looked at the effect of prayer on 393 cardiac patients. Half were prayed for by strangers who had only the patients’ names. Those patients had fewer complications, fewer cases of pneumonia, and needed less drug treatment.  They also got better quicker and left the hospital earlier.


Koenig is quoted on the website, saying, “The benefits of devout religious practice, particularly involvement in a faith community and religious commitment, are that people cope better.” He added, “In general, they cope with stress better, they experience greater well-being because they have more hope, they’re more optimistic, they experience less depression, less anxiety, and they commit suicide less often.”


So, how can this inspire us as praying believers, who have access to the throne of God, who desires for us to call upon Him?


The physical evidence confirms the spiritual principles - prayer can have a profound impact on our lives and the lives of others.   As Christians, we can be convinced of the power that is present as we call upon the name of the Lord.   This research can provide inspiration for us as we consider the impact that Biblical prayer can have.   And, I think we can be challenged to consider prayer as our first option or course of action.  Oswald Chambers said (from the website):  “We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all…”


We can be encouraged that prayer has the potential to impact the trajectory of our nation.  We have the Scriptural admonition in 1st Timothy 2 to pray for our leaders, and the problems that are facing our nation are so great, the moral decline so steep, the economic challenges so sharp, and the security issues so troubling, that we need the power of a supernatural God to intervene in a powerful way. 


God is inviting us to come to Him.  He desires for us to cast our cares upon Him, bring our petitions before Him, and have confidence that when we pray according to His will, He will hear and act.  The Bible says in 1st John 5:


Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. (NKJV)



Last modified on Thursday, 07 May 2015 15:33
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