The Power Of Prayer in Healthcare
by TheCommuter, ASN, RN Senior Moderator | 10,544 Views | 46 Comments
Research indicates that patients who pray and meditate experience increased health benefits. Some of these benefits are measurable, while others cannot directly be observed. The purpose of this article is to explore the power of prayer in healthcare.
- 7 Published Jul 29, '12
According to Oxford Dictionaries, prayer is defined as a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or another deity. Although people usually associate praying with organized religion, prayers can incorporate spirituality without necessarily being religious. Prayer is also rather versatile because an individual can pray aloud, silently, alone, with a group, at a place of worship, or in the privacy of one's home.
In recent years, research has indicated that prayer might result in a multitude of beneficial outcomes for patients in healthcare facilities and in the community. According to Schiffman (2012), regular prayer and meditation has been shown in numerous scientific studies to be an important factor in living longer and staying healthy. Growing evidence suggests that prayer might positively impact pain levels, stress and anxiety, severity of symptoms, recovery time, emotional well-being, interpersonal relationships, longevity, and other important aspects of patient's lives.
Studies have actually shown that those who pray are physically and emotionally healthier than those who do not (Miller, 2008). Praying might very well be the driving force that helps some patients live longer and with enhanced quality of life. A recent survey reported in the Journal of Gerontology of 4,000 senior citizens in Durham, NC, found that people who prayed or meditated coped better with illness and lived longer than those who did not (Schiffman, 2012). Moreover, praying can sometimes ward off illnesses associated with stress or unhealthy living. In one National Institutes of Health funded study, individuals who prayed daily were shown to be 40 percent less likely to have high blood pressure than those without a regular prayer practice (Schiffman, 2012).
Prayer can be utilized as a powerful technique for drug-free stress reduction. According to Schiffman (2012), a wide variety of spiritual practices have been shown to help alleviate the stress levels, which are one of the major risk factors for disease. In general, patients are in relaxed states during times of prayer and meditation. Perhaps it is this meditative process that gives prayer one of its most outstanding benefits (Miller, 2008).
Furthermore, prayer may have an effect on patients' responses to disease processes. A 2011 study of inner city youth with asthma by researchers at the University of Cincinnati indicates that those who practiced prayer and meditation experienced fewer and less severe symptoms than those who had not (Schiffman, 2012). Also, research suggests that patients who are religious have speedier recovery times after major medical procedures. Research at Dartmouth Medical School found that patients with strong religious beliefs who underwent elective heart surgery were three times more likely to recover than those who were less religious (Schiffman, 2012).
Another positive aspect regarding the power of prayer is that it helps patients' social and interpersonal bonds with people become stronger. When we pray for those we know and love, it helps us to understand that person a little bit better (Miller, 2008). Prayer can be the glue that forges that intangible connection with people.
Science strongly indicates that patients who engage in prayer and meditation experience health benefits. Some of the benefits of the power of prayer are measurable, while others cannot directly be measured or observed. These findings are exciting and certainly warrant further study. In summary, if our patients feel spiritually and emotionally at peace while praying, who are we to stop them?Last edit by Joe V on Jul 29, '12
About TheCommuter, ASN, RN
TheCommuter is a moderator of allnurses.com and has varied experiences upon which to draw for her articles. She was an LPN/LVN for more than four years prior to becoming a registered nurse.
TheCommuter has '9' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'acute rehab, long term care, and psych'. From 'Fort Worth, Texas, USA'; 33 Years Old; Joined Feb '05; Posts: 28,329; Likes: 41,317. You can follow TheCommuter on My Website4Jul 29, '12 by interleukin"Studies have actually shown that those who pray are physically and emotionally healthier than those who do not"
I think you meant to say, "Some people believe that those who pray..."
There are no evidence-based studies that could make such a claim. And believing something is true is mere opinion, not fact.4Jul 29, '12 by VickyRN Senior ModeratorExcellent article, TheCommuter. Anecdotally speaking, I have witnessed the power of prayer times too numerous to count. One of the most recent involved my husband, who had to undergo major surgery as an extremely high risk candidate. A churchfull of people were praying for him, and he went through the surgery without incident and recovered amazingly well without complication.13Jul 29, '12 by interleukinAt risk of being barraged with hate mail, I offer the following;
First , if prayer makes you, or someone else, feel better then by all means do it. After all, prayers can't hurt.
But suggesting that praying for someone's recovery, from a remote location, can actually contribute to that recovery is magical thinking that undermines the integrity of the Western nursing profession.
I wonder how many doctors maintain such beliefs?
Prayer is hope, and hope is a good thing...as long as there's a reasonable chance. Otherwise, we end up prolonging suffering "waiting for miracles."
People pray everyday for recoveries that never happen. Was it, then, just a matter of too few people praying or not praying loud enough?
I will quickly be labeled a "nonbeliever" so that my perspective can be rendered irrelevant...just someone who either "doesn't get it" or is "a lost soul."
You can be be either scientists or a witch doctors...but not both.6Jul 29, '12 by TheCommuter, ASN, RN Senior ModeratorQuote from interleukinHello, and good morning! I am the author of the article. I shall start things off with a disclosure that I am nonreligious and do not attend church. However, I am spiritual and do believe in the power of prayer."Studies have actually shown that those who pray are physically and emotionally healthier than those who do not"
I think you meant to say, "Some people believe that those who pray..."
There are no evidence-based studies that could make such a claim. And believing something is true is mere opinion, not fact.
I am pleased that we all have differences in opinions regarding this matter. After all, the diversity of viewpoints is what keeps things interesting. If we all held the exact same beliefs, humankind would be overly boring.
Some people believe in the power of prayer and others do not. The beauty of living in America is the fact that we are allowed to disagree with any expressed opinions that seem specious or rub us the wrong way. Thank you for your feedback.5Jul 29, '12 by student987Quote from brownbook"I believe atheists giving "good thoughts" works the same as prayer to a large extent. it is all positive energy being directed at the one who needs itIf an atheist says, "I will pray for you" does it count?4Jul 29, '12 by That Guy, BSN, RN, EMT-BQuote from brownbookIm not an atheist but I dont believe in prayers/praying. however if a family asks for my prayers I offer it to them. If it provides them some comfort in what they are going through, I will help. I have no desire to try and make them see the way I do. So I guess it can count.If an atheist says, "I will pray for you" does it count?