Top 10 Prayers for Healing
Scientists have studied prayer in different ways and do not find a great deal of support for its effectiveness. There are testimonies of healing. And sometimes you will find medical evidence that a condition has suddenly improved without medical intervention or despite medical opinion that a condition was not expected to improve.
What do people pray for?
A Lifeway Survey reported 1 October 2014 identified the following Top 5 things people pray about.
1. Family or friends 82%
2. personal problems or difficulties 74%
3. Good things that recently occurred 54%
4. Personal sin 42%
5. People in natural disasters 38%
See their survey for their language and more details. It's pretty impressive that people care about others.
Pew Report on Prayer
Published on the U.S. National Day of Prayer, May 1, 2014
Many people pray every day 55% (2013)
Those not affiliated with a religion pray too; 21% every day (2013)
In 2012, 76% agreed: “Prayer is an important part of my daily life.”
Those Pew numbers indicate a lot of praying is going on.
What about healing prayer?
In 2012, Candy Gunther Brown, wrote a book about healing prayer: Testing Prayer: Science and Healing. This is where I found the top 10 prayers for healing (page 178). Her list is quite lengthy so you will have to get the book if you want more details. What’s interesting about the table is that she reports the findings from a pre- and post-conference survey. People expressed their need for healing then reported back on whether or not they were healed. I was curious about the percentages of people saying they were healed so I looked at the percentage of reported healings.
What about mental health?
Well, those concerns were down the list.
I reviewed Candy Gunther Brown’s Book. Here’s a couple of links to copies.
She’s speaking at a conference this week so I hope to go and learn more.
Let’s state the obvious, a survey isn’t going to cut it when we want to know if a person was genuinely healed of a diagnosed condition. Fortunately, Dr. Brown has done research to collect some pre-post prayer data using medical tests. There is some evidence of healing.
I suspect the low rates of healing have been known to those Christian groups who teach prayer for healing but do not tell people to ignore their doctor’s advice. And I noted a change since those old days of revival meetings—people now pray that God will be with the physician during diagnosis or surgery. Although, some still do pray for direct interventions from God. And some continue to report positive results.
I’ll leave it to the theologians to address what is going on in terms of divine intervention. From a psychological perspective, I’m interested in how people cope with the lack of healing, their level of hope, and what happens to their faith. I think it would be helpful if clergy and health care providers considered how to help people who have prayed but do not obtain a healing or who believed they were healed only to find out the problem returned.
And finally, I wonder why mental health get’s short shrift. Is it just not that important? For those 11 who reported some general difficulty, the 82% healing is pretty high. Obviously, that category of mental/ emotional... needs some work to be more precise.
I’ll probably come back to this topic with more data so, stay tuned.