2 partners, including strangers, prayed for Greg’s healing. At one point, his toes turned black and the doctors said they might have to amputate. Greg’s aunt, a woman of deep faith, began to focus her prayers specifically on Greg’s toes; and within hours the healthy pink color returned. Greg spent 20 days in the hospital “but he is the picture of health today, and I thank God everyday,” says his mother. That case, while dramatic, is hardly unusual. More and more doctors and medical scientists are seriously studying the role which faith plays in healing. In recent years more than 200 studies have been done, and the evidence demonstrates clearly that there is a beneficial link between faith and health. For example, a landmark study in 1984 led to the resurgence of scientific evaluation of the effect of prayer on healing. In that study, 393 patients admitted to the coronary care unit at San Francisco General Hospital were computer assigned to either a 201-patient control group or to the 192 patients who were prayed for daily by five to seven people in home prayer groups. Neither patients, nurses, nor doctors knew which group the patients were in.
The results were amazing as... • Those prayed for were five times less likely to require antibiotics; • They were three times less likely to develop pulmonary edema, a condition in which the lungs fill with fluid; • None of those prayed for required the insertion of an artificial airway in the throat, compared with twelve in the control group who required the treatment; • Those prayed for experienced fewer cases of pneumonia and cardiopulmonary arrests; • Fewer patients in the prayed-for group died. That study, and others like it, confirms what spiritual teachers and people of faith have known across the ages, namely, that prayer is effective where there is illness and disease. “As a physician, I have seen men, after all other therapy had failed, lifted out of disease and melancholy by the serene effort of prayer,” writes Alexis Carrel, M.D., winner of the 1912 Nobel prize for Medicine. 3