SPIRITUAL HEALING Overview Information
Spiritual healing is the use of prayer and other spiritual activities to treat or prevent illness.
Spiritual healing is used for all kinds of medical conditions including depression, anxiety, stress, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), leukemia, fibromyalgia, stroke recovery, heart failure, surgery recovery, heart disease, coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery, substance abuse, alcoholism, smoking cessation, and many others.
In North America, as many as 43% of people use prayer to improve their health.
How does it work?
Spiritual healing, also commonly called “faith healing,” is most often the intentional use of prayer to treat or prevent disease. However, other methods of spiritual healing are also used such as spiritual insights, laying on of hands, and meditation.
Spiritual healing using prayer can take several forms. Different types of prayer may be used for different purposes. “Conversational prayer” is an informal prayer or conversation with God or a higher power seeking guidance, asking for health, and expressing thanks. “Meditative prayer” uses meditation on spiritual ideas in attempt to reach a better understanding of God or a higher power. “Ritual prayer” is the recitation of standard, well-known prayers. “Intercessory prayer” is prayer used to benefit another person by asking God or a higher power for help, guidance or counsel, and health.
Spiritual healing, especially intercessory prayer, has been scientifically studied. However, these studies have produced inconsistent findings, and most are flawed. Some people say that attempting to study and evaluate supernatural spiritual activity using scientific research is impossible. They say that by its nature, spirituality cannot be measured.
Prayer might work as treatment through a variety of possible mechanisms. Meditative and other types of prayer might result in relaxation including a slowed heart and breathing rate and reduced blood pressure. Prayer might also be associated with a large “placebo effect;” people think it works, and so it seems to. Prayer may also improve positive emotions, making people feel better overall.
- Alcoholism. There is some evidence that spiritual healing through other people’s prayers (intercessory prayer) does not significantly reduce alcohol use in people receiving alcohol abuse treatment.
- Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. Early research shows that spiritual healing through other people’s prayers (intercessory prayer) does not significantly reduce complications following surgery. Interestingly, people who believed they were receiving intercessory prayer, but did not, had slightly more complications.
- Heart disease. Developing research shows that spiritual healing through other people’s prayers (intercessory prayer) reduces the need for breathing machines and drug treatment using antibiotics or water pills in heart patients. However, prayer doesn’t seem to shorten the hospital stay.
- Leukemia. Developing research shows that spiritual healing through other people’s prayers (intercessory prayer) does not significantly reduce death rate in children with leukemia.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
- Heart failure.
- Smoking cessation.
- Stroke recovery.
- Substance abuse.
- Surgery recovery.
- Other conditions.