The Power of Prayer?

From msnbc.com: 1 in 2 believe prayer trumps doctor’s prognosis

I found it interesting that over 20% of health care professionals beleive so as well.  Having been thru the hell of dealing with a medical tragedy I can say that I don’t.  When I lost my daughter we prayed harder that we ever prayed before, but she still died.  I don’t beleive in miracles anymore than I believe in the Easter bunny, which is to say, ain’t much.

This too ties into my whole theory of denying death that permeates our society.  Are there “miraculous” turn-arounds?  Could be.  It could also be that the treatments are actually working.  But I’m not one to judge.  We so don’t want to die that in-spite of overwhelming evidence that the end is nigh, we press on.  That’s why we have 90 year olds with ESRD, CHF, so demented they don’t know their own name and a host of other conditions that are full codes.  If medicine can’t fix them, maybe prayer can.  We put our loved one through the torture of a code and expect them to come out bright and shiny, happy that they are still alive.  When you hit a certain age, that just isn’t going to realistically happen.

It reminds me though of a story I heard from a colleague it goes like this: the patient had passed away in the due process of their disease.  It wasn’t a total surpirse, but it was quicker than expected.  The whole family, all members of the same church piled into the room and began to pray.  For 2 hours.  And what did they tell the nurse?   “We’re going to raise him from the dead by the power of prayer!”

It didn’t work.

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3 Comments

  1. I’m a believer in a higher-something, but people’s conception of prayer is ridiculous. If there really is an all-knowing, all-loving being, then why would it take us asking for something awful not to happen to prevent it? Would the sick person have been put through that sickness just to test how hard we could pray? Would an ever-compassionate god ever say “If you had just prayed another 20 minutes, maybe I could have worked something out”. That’s the logical end of this idea. I’ve heard others say that real prayer is for people to have an opportunity to listen to god, to discern what his purpose is in a given situation. Makes a little bit more sense. Anyways, i’m with you- the whole notion of prayer somehow healing just doesn’t work out.

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  2. I have always thought of prayer as magical thinking. I think there is a certain placebo type idea behind prayer if the patient is praying for themselves, or is aware enough and believes enough in prayer to feel supported by the prayers of others. Those who are positive about their own recovery recover more quickly than those that think negatively. Does the prayer physically make them heal faster? NO. But fighting the depression that is inherent in serious illness does help to boost the immune system,and helps them drag their butts out of the bed. Will prayer heal the AAA without surgery? No. People that rely on prayer to heal may as well be stirring a cauldron and cooking up potions of bat wings and spider testicles, but on a mental level anything that makes the patient “feel” better about their chances has some merit. I am not religious, but I have been known to sit and hold a patients hand while they pray.

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  3. The funny things about this:

    * Prayer in the Christian theology was never meant to be “Hey God, gimme a favor.” It was meant to be, “Hey God, pretty sure everything’s going by your plans. Just checking in.”

    *People forget: if God wanted their loved one to live he’d never have made them die in the first place. I sometimes want to shake the crazy raise-the-dead people and scream “God tried to kill your patient, but we’re not letting him!”

    Reply

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