Of all the complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) techniques prayer is the most popular. That’s not to say that meditation, massage, acupuncture and deep breathing, for example, are not helpful they just aren’t as popular as prayer. All of the spiritual belief systems I am aware of incorporate prayer into their system. Roughly 75% of medical schools in the United States offer classes having prayer as a component. When someone is diagnosed with a medical condition or disease everything that person does or does not do can help or hinder treatment and recovery. When soon-to-be physicians learn about the power of prayer in medical school it then becomes another tool in the treatment and recovery of patients alongside of other medical techniques. If nothing else, that is a good reason to include the study of prayer in medical schools.
Outside of the medical arena it is safe to say that prayer is part of our lives to some degree whether you are aware of it or not. It is not atypical to hear someone say, “I will pray for you” or “Please pray for me.” If nothing else prayer conveys a message of love and care to and from the person doing or requesting prayer.
Studying the efficacy of prayer as a specific phenomenon is difficult at best. Most of the research studies churchgoers versus non-churchgoers. Results are mixed. One common theme however seems to be that those who attend church services regularly live 25-30% longer than non-churchgoers. Some attribute this longevity to the fact that regular attendees have ongoing contact with a strong social support system. A common practice during church services for the entire social support system is prayer. For those of us who believe in God, prayer works and in fact we are told to pray ceaselessly. During church services most congregations pray for individuals and groups unbeknownst to those individuals and groups. Such prayer is offered in a spirit of love and care.
There you have it! Prayer really is a win-win situation. When praying simply have a conversation with God. He listens and understands. After all is said and done, go ahead and pray for me, I don’t mind.