Remember when just about every plate coming out from a restaurant kitchen was adorned with a sprig of parsley?Medical studies are finding that prayer is important to treatment. The US National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health has published a study from Brazil that found the most used form of complementary/alternative medicine is prayer and that prayer “significantly” affects quality of life issues for cancer patients. The study’s conclusion states it,”should not be discouraged by physicians.” (www.scielo.br)
When I attended cooking school, one of my professors asked the class if parsley had a purpose on the plate. Some of the students in the class, who already worked in the restaurant industry quickly answered that it was a useless piece of garnish. The professor smiled and informed the students that folks had forgotten the benefits of parsley. He went on to explain that parsley was a natural breathe freshener and had been served as an after meal palate cleanser. But he lamented that its spot on the plate had been usurped by fancy mints and candies. It didn’t mean that the mints were any more effective than parsley, just more fashionable.
Like parsley, prayer has been squeezed from the plate when it comes to health care. That wasn’t always the case. Prayer as a source for healing is at the vary core of the Bible. Time after time the Bible illustrates that simple, heartfelt turning to God in prayer brings healing. There are 929 physical healings recorded in the Old Testament and 31 in the New Testament. Although, St. John observes that not all of Jesus’ works were recorded. (John 21:25) Jesus’ teaching, though, sets the expectation for continued use of prayer for healing. Prayer has never lost its usefulness. Recently use of prayer has been growing. A study by the National Institutes of Health has identified a growing trend in use of prayer to address health concerns.
I googled “healed of cancer” and found the story of Dodie Osteen, the mother of televangelist Joel Osteen. She began to feel ill and her condition continued to worsen. As a trained medical nurse she felt she needed medical attention, but her first action was to pray. Mrs. Osteen based her prayer in her understanding of the Word of God and the understanding that God cares and heals. She was diagnosed with cancer. Surgery and chemotherapy were offered, but she declined. Instead she went home to fight the disease with prayer. She vowed not to be a victim of a disease, so she got up every morning and dressed. Mrs. Osteen writes,”When I was in the house alone, I thought about myself, the pain, sickness, and symptoms, and I would get weary and full of pity. But when I forced myself to go out and pray for someone else, my health began to come back to me.”(Healed of Cancer by Dodie Osteen)
One of Mrs. Osteen’s doctor’s commented, “It is one thing to read about miracles but it is another to sit by and watch one happen.”
Mrs. Osteen makes the point that she thinks of her healing as starting the day she received the diagnosis. I can relate to that. I needed to have a physical exam for a job. The examination turned up a growth on my back that the physician identified as cancerous. Before I left his office an appointment was made for me with an oncologist. As soon as the doctor made the pronouncement, I started reaching out to God. My faith had taught me that prayer would guide my journey. Before I could keep the appointment, the growth dropped from my back leaving no sore or scar. I returned to the first doctor who cleared me for the job and canceled the oncologist appointment.
Although most studies today limit the use of prayer to ameliorating symptoms of disease, such as cancer, Dodie’s experience and mine, indicate that we should not limit its possibilities.
Like parsley, prayer is just as effective now as it ever has been Let’s make sure it keeps its place on the health care plate.