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Many people use prayer, and some studies have shown a positive association between prayer and improved health outcomes. This article explores four possible mechanisms by which prayer may lead to improved health. While acknowledging the efficacy of prayer and recognising the needs of patients, prayer, being a personal spiritual practice, cannot be prescribed, nor should it be used in place of medical care. T he spiritual search for meaning and hope in life is integral to human existence.
Можно ли кончать на женский половой орган
This is particularly evident during times of personal stress and crisis. Although our discussion reflects mainly a Christian perspective, many of the issues raised here are common to other spiritual and religious traditions.
In the Christian tradition, prayer can take many different forms, including:. These forms of prayer are not mutually exclusive, and the type of prayer practised will depend on the needs and circumstances of each individual. News headlines in recent years have also highlighted the importance of prayer as a coping mechanism.
Compared with other practices such as transcendental meditation, yoga, tai chi, qigong and reiki, prayer was by far the most popular alternative form of therapy.
Как устроить ребенка в детский садик без прописки: варианты без наличия свободных мест
Similar findings emerged from a Harvard Medical School study, which showed that a third of adults used prayer in addition to conventional medical care for specific health-related problems. The authors of the study noted that, while prayer for health concerns was a highly prevalent practice, patients rarely discussed the use of prayer with their doctors.
Scientific validation of the efficacy of prayer in relation to health remains in its infancy. Many of the early studies reflect a positive bias in research design in which the efficacy of prayer was often judged only on the basis of predefined positive outcomes, with no provision made for negative ones.
One recent study using rigorous methodology reported negative findings on the therapeutic effects of intercessory prayer and illustrates the need for non-biased experimental designs. Several theological criticisms of positive research bias have also been put forward.
It also presents God as an impersonal, mechanistic figure, subject to experimental control. God is not swayed by the number of prayers or by geographic distances, but responds at various times and in ways that are not always anticipated by the person praying. An answer to prayer may come in the form of increased ability to deal with illness and tragedy and not necessarily in acts of miraculous intervention or healing.
Если с пропиской ничего не выходит
One common criticism of prayer research is that prayer has become a popular therapeutic method for which there is no known plausible mechanism. Meditation is known to produce desirable physiological changes, such as slowed breathing, reduction in heart rate, a drop in blood pressure, peripheral warming, slower brain wave activity marked by an increase in alpha and theta activity , and a hypometabolic state.
People practising meditation, irrespective of their religious persuasion, report feeling more spiritual and experiencing an enhanced sense of psychological and physiological wellbeing, peace and tranquillity. The question that immediately arises is whether there are specific physiological markers that differentiate prayer from non-spiritual meditation and relaxation.
Some differences between prayer, meditation and the relaxation response have been documented. Prayer, silent or spoken, is associated with increased cortical activity, exemplified by higher beta frequencies, as seen in alert and attentive communication. Critics of prayer research have proposed that the benefits of prayer may be the result of a placebo effect.
The only accepted method for putting such questions to the test is to conduct prospective, randomised, double-blind trials, in which neither the patient nor the treating physician is aware of the experimental design. Several prayer studies using this approach have produced inconsistent results. The prayed-for group showed six significantly better health outcomes, including lower incidence of congestive heart failure, cardiopulmonary arrest, pneumonia and intubation, and reduced use of diuretics and antibiotics.
Fourteen other measures appeared to favour the prayed-for group, but showed no statistically significant difference. Nine measures, including mortality rate and duration of hospital stay two of the prayed-for outcomes , showed no difference or favoured the control group. A more recent and rigorous study on the therapeutic effects of intercessory prayer on cardiac bypass patients found prayer to be associated with a higher incidence of complications.
In another study, researchers investigated the impact of intercessory prayer offered by Christian prayer groups in the US, Canada and Australia on outcomes of in-vitro fertilisation-embryo transfer at Cha Hospital in Seoul, Korea. One of the scientific and theological anomalies of double-blind studies on the effects of prayer is that they are seeking to quantify supernatural phenomena.
In attempting to do so, it may be difficult to control for the qualitative and quantitative strengths of different prayers offered, making it impossible to test for a placebo effect through double-blind studies. A third mechanism by which prayer is seen as exerting its positive impact on wellbeing is by means of the positive emotions it engenders. Pert is well recognised for her work on neuropeptides in mind—body communication. The hypothalamic—pituitary system in the brain is the primary communication channel linking thoughts and emotions with messenger molecules that are released into the cerebrospinal fluid and through the blood system into the whole body.
It is at this level that positive emotions generate physiological changes that have far-reaching consequences on our health and wellbeing.
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A fourth mechanism discussed in the literature by which prayer affects health focuses on supernatural intervention. Yet, irrespective of whether scientists seek to attribute the benefits of prayer to the relaxation response, placebo or positive emotions, the most common reason why people turn to prayer is their belief in a divine being that transcends the natural universe and hears and responds to prayer.
A medical case study of an year-old woman with chronic illness illustrates this belief in supernatural intervention. Her condition had been resistant to all pain management measures, including lumbar epidural steroid injections. With no improvement resulting from conventional medical treatment, prayer was her primary source of relief.
She explains:. Some people are sick and have pain and it gets the best of them. Not me. Praying eases pain, takes it away. Sometimes I pray when I am in deep, serious pain.
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I pray, and all at once the pain gets easy. I believe in God. For people practising prayer, one of the central tenets is faith in an infinite, caring, personal and supernatural being. Levin, in his review of epidemiological studies on the role of prayer, 4 states that. Indeed, the possibility that there is a Creator-God who volitionally chooses to answer or not answer petitionary prayers by means which entirely transcend any naturalistic mechanism may be the most commonly held belief of people who use prayer or spiritual interventions for friends or loved ones who are ill.
Faith in the supernatural may be a key factor in understanding the mechanisms of prayer.
Faith is a difficult concept to define and even more challenging to measure empirically. In the Christian tradition, several references are commonly cited in relation to prayer, health and healing. Quotations given here are from the New International Version of the Bible. Among the various biblical accounts, the New Testament physician Luke provides extensive reports linking faith in God with healing, especially in his accounts of the ministry of the historical Jesus. As a popular healer, Jesus was known for his own personal practice of prayer and for his miraculous healings.
Some healings were the direct result of faith and prayer, while others were acts of mercy. However, none of the accounts leave any room for speculation or discussion as to whether the health benefits were due to a placebo effect, relaxation, or the impact of positive emotions. All were examples of healing by supernatural means. The knowledge that spirituality has an impact on the health and wellbeing of individuals needs to be reflected in patient care.
Other professionals, including doctors and nurses, should also be willing to listen and make appropriate decisions on how these can be best addressed. However, because of the very personal nature of spiritual beliefs and practices, prayer is not a practice that can be prescribed, nor should it take the place of medical care.
Throughout history, people have used prayer in relation to their own health and the health of others. While prayer continues to be a prevalent practice, scientific research on the health benefits of prayer is still in its infancy. To gain a clearer understanding of why people derive health benefits from prayer, future studies need to identify the unique markers that differentiate prayer from other non-spiritual practices. Researchers must also accept that some aspects of prayer may not be transparent to scientific investigation and may go beyond the reach of science.
In the clinical context, prayer should not be specifically prescribed or seen as a substitute for medical treatment, but should be recognised as an important resource for coping with pain and illness and improving health and general wellbeing. You will be notified by email within five working days should your response be accepted.
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Ethics and law. Medical education. Volume Issue 10 Suppl. Prayer as medicine: how much have we learned?
Marek Jantos and Hosen Kiat. Med J Aust ; 10 : S Topics General medicine. History and humanities. Abstract Many people use prayer, and some studies have shown a positive association between prayer and improved health outcomes. Bias in current research on prayer Scientific validation of the efficacy of prayer in relation to health remains in its infancy.
Plausible mechanisms by which prayer delivers health benefits One common criticism of prayer research is that prayer has become a popular therapeutic method for which there is no known plausible mechanism. Prayer as a placebo Critics of prayer research have proposed that the benefits of prayer may be the result of a placebo effect.
Prayer as an expression of positive emotions A third mechanism by which prayer is seen as exerting its positive impact on wellbeing is by means of the positive emotions it engenders. Prayer as a channel for supernatural intervention A fourth mechanism discussed in the literature by which prayer affects health focuses on supernatural intervention.
She explains: Some people are sick and have pain and it gets the best of them. Prayer and the patient The knowledge that spirituality has an impact on the health and wellbeing of individuals needs to be reflected in patient care.