The importance of praying

Published 12:13 pm Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Judith Victoria Hensley

Plain Thoughts

My preparation for writing this week’s newspaper column has led me to a wide array of opinions, research, and opposing conclusions about the importance and power of prayer. I couldn’t help finding it amusing that the people doing the research and writing about their findings seemed biased from the start in one way or the other.

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Research focusing on the power of prayer in healing has nearly doubled in the past 10 years, says David Larson, MD, MSPH, president of the National Institute for Healthcare Research, a private nonprofit agency. “[Today,] we’re seeing systematic investigations — clinical research — as well as position statements from professional societies supporting this research, federal subsidies from the NIH, funding from Congress,” he tells WebMD. “All of these studies, all the reports, are remarkably consistent in suggesting the potential measurable health benefit associated with prayer or spiritual interventions.” (Web MD)

I personally don’t need researchers to prove or disprove to me the power of prayer. I’ve prayed for others and seen situations completely turn around. I’ve had people pray for me and felt the power and impact those prayers had in my life. I believe in the power of prayer based on my own experiences. I find the authority of the Bible to be enough, but grin at the efforts of researchers who are discovering what those with faith in God already know.

For the past 30 years, Harvard scientist Herbert Benson, MD, has conducted his own studies on prayer. Benson has documented on MRI brain scans the physical changes that take place in the body when someone meditates. When combined with recent research from the University of Pennsylvania, what emerges is a picture of complex brain activity [during prayer].

According to a WLTX 19 News Staff report in 2014, “a new study of MRI brain scans shows that there is power in prayer, or meditation. Not just spiritual power, but actual physical healing power. The study says prayer is essentially a workout for the brain, whether you are a believer or not.”

Dr. Newberg is a man of science and a man of faith who thinks his research shows that you can have both God and science. “It only makes sense if God is up there and we are down here that we would have a brain that is capable of communicating to God, praying to God, doing the things that God needs us to do,” said Dr. Andrew Newberg of Thomas Jefferson Hospital . “That science now suggests there is benefit in prayer or meditation whether it is spiritual or not. It can actually shape the brain.”

Psychiatrist Carl R. Peterson, M.D. has specifically studied the impact of “praying in the Spirit” (also known as the gift of speaking in tongues). He has discovered through research and testing that as we pray in the Spirit, or worship in the Spirit (our heavenly language) there is activity that begins to take place in our brain. As we engage in our heavenly language the brain releases two chemical secretions that are directed into our immune systems giving a 35 to 40 percent boost to the immune system. This promotes healing within our bodies. Amazingly this secretion is triggered from a part of the brain that has no other apparent activity in humans and is only activated by our Spirit led prayer and worship.”

Through his research, Dr. Peterson asks the question, “Before the fall of man did God in His perfect creation provide for the total healing of mankind in this manner? As Adam walked and communicated with the Father in the Garden was this close and intimate fellowship and communication causing divine health to flow in his body? Just something for us to think about. God is the restorer of all things. As we exercise our life in the ‘Spirit’ by speaking in our heavenly language that He has put within us, we are touching the supernatural power of God and we are letting Him restore part of what was lost.”

Having shared my “clinical findings” I invite fellow believers in the power of prayer to pray for me and I will lift up those needs for others as I am made aware, and we’ll all be better for doing it.