Power of Prayer

Although 95 percent of Americans believe in God, most doctors are uncomfortable discussing spiritual matters. This is sad, since 60 percent of the population would like to discuss spiritual issues with their doctors and 40 percent would like for their doctors to pray with them.
The effects of prayer are numerous: less anxiety, stress, and anger; lowered resting pulse rate and blood pressure; increased production of "happy hormones"; and increased pain threshold.

In addition, prayer and other spiritual practices tap into the mind-body connection. They have a calming effect that involves every system in the body, including the nervous system, immune system, endocrine (hormonal) system, digestive system, and cardiovascular system. One study involving individuals with HIV showed that participation in religious or spiritual activities substantially improved immune function.

One of the most talked-about studies evaluating the positive benefits of prayer was published in The Southern Medical Journal in 1988. It involved 393 hospitalized patients who were equally divided into two groups: one group served as the control and was treated with traditional medical care alone; the second group received prayer along with traditional medical care.

Neither group, nor their doctors, knew who was receiving prayer from third parties. The group receiving prayer had these remarkable results: they had fewer congestive heart failures (8 versus 20), fewer of them needed diuretics (5 versus 15), they experienced fewer cardiac arrests (3 versus 14), they had fewer episodes of pneumonia (3 versus 13), fewer of them were prescribed antibiotics (3 versus 17), and they generally required less medication than the control group, who received no prayer from the volunteer third parties.

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