Have you ever wondered if praying really works?
We have all received news of a family member, friend, or acquaintance suffering from an illness or injury. Oftentimes, we are asked to pray for the afflicted person’s healing and comfort. Many of us do so gladly, adding a name to our daily prayers, offering a specific intercession or even going the extra mile and encouraging others to pray as well. Have you ever wondered if praying works?
Scientific (and not so scientific) studies have been conducted for centuries attempting to quantify the effects of prayer on the afflicted. Are the ill or injured comforted by prayer? Are they cured? Do miracles happen? Skeptics have tested individual prayers, group prayers, specific prayers derived from Scripture, and free form prayer. Some would say our efforts are in vain. Yet when people learn they are being prayed for, they say they feel better physically and emotionally.
We know that prayer cannot fix everything. Bad things happen. People suffer. Yet Dr. Jim Garlow, pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church, strongly encourages us to pray for the sick. In his book, God Still Heals: Answers to Your Questions About Divine Healing, Dr. Garlow tells us to “love people and pray for their healing, to not become discouraged when healing does not occur.”
Dr. Harold G. Koenig, Director, Center for Spirituality, Theology, and Health at Duke University, says prayer does help. “Religious involvement, particularly prayer, seems to be associated with a wide variety of positive effects.” Most notably, people who know that others are praying for them feel a sense of belonging to a community. They may not be physically healed but they are comforted knowing others care about them and are praying for their healing.
That's not to say that healing can't come. There are plenty of cases of healing that "doesn't make sense" to medical professionals. The bottom line is, prayer brings us into the right attitude when we feel afraid and sad, helping us to direct our attention where it ought to be. The Bible says that God delights to give good gifts to his people, and we shouldn't forget that when we or our loved ones are going through a health issue.
When you log into your Share Box on Liberty HealthShare’s website, you can often see the name of the member that received your Share Amount to pay for medical costs. Did you know you have the ability to send that recipient a message? If you are so inclined, you can pray for members of our sharing community by name, and let them know you are doing so.
Dr. Koenig also offers this encouraging piece of information. “People who pray for others also derive benefits from their actions. It helps them. It helps the afflicted. It’s good for everyone,” he says. So go ahead. Say that prayer for someone that is sick. Prayer elevates us all!