Monday, March 29, 2010

Is prayer helpful in psychotherapy?

The US National Center for Health Statistics recently conducted surveys on the relationship between prayer and health. Results showed that 65.1 percent of the adult population had prayed specifically because of emotional disorders or mental illness. Cardiologists in the study noted that 97 percent of patients prayed the night before they had heart surgery. And those others who prayed for their health, 71.1 percent said they prayed about specific diseases like cancer or chronic pain. This led the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the US National Institutes of Health to spend $6.2 million over 2 years to study the link between prayer and health.

Medicine and science have seriously looked at "prayer therapy" over the years. As a matter of fact, there are now more than 6,000 published studies on the topic since 2000. Some of them have been funded by well known groups like John Templeton Foundation to search for overlap of spirituality and health.

In 1988, a formal study on intercessory prayer took place in the coronary unit of San Francisco General Hospital. Researchers found that patients who had "prayer therapy" tend to recover faster and with fewer complications than those who received standard treatment without prayer.

"Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray... Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up ..." (James 5: 13-15)

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