Neuroscientists are documenting changes in brain scans of meditating Tibetan Buddhists and praying nuns. They are trying to see whether meditation/prayer has meaning to people that translates into biology and affects a disease process.

Prayer and faith speeded recovery in illnesses ranging from depression to stroke to heart attack. Medical acceptance has grown along with solid scientific data on prayer’s impact on health. About 75% of studies of spirituality have confirmed health benefits. If prayers were available in pill form, no pharmacy could stock enough of it.

Scientists and spiritualists in general believe that GOD heals people in supernatural ways, but Science cannot shape a study to prove it. But we now know enough, based on solid research to say that meditation and prayer, much like exercise and diet, has a connection with better health.

Is prayer good medicine?

Dozens of studies have shown that individuals, who pray regularly and attend religious services, stay healthier and livelonger than those who rarely or never do – even when age, health, habits, demographics and other factors are considered. Prayer – Whether for oneself (petitionary prayer) or others (intercessory prayer) – affects the quality, if not quantity of life. It boosts morale, lower agitation, and loneliness and life dissatisfaction and enhances the ability to cope in men, women, the elderly, the young, the healthy and the sick. Another study has found that those who prayed regularly had significantly lower blood pressure than the less religious. A third study showed that those who attended religious services had healthier immune systems than those who did not. In studies at several medical centers, meditation/prayer and faith have been shown to speed recovery from depression, alcoholism, hip surgery, and drug addiction, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, heart attacks and bypass surgery. Those who pray stay healthier and live longer than those who don’t.

How does prayer do these things?

Some scientists speculate that meditation/prayer may foster a state of peace and calm that could lead to beneficial changes in the cardiovascular and immune systems. Using sophisticated brain-imaging techniques, Dr. Andy Newberg of the university of Pennsylvania, author of “Why God won’t go away” has documented changes in blood flow in particular regions of the brain during prayer and meditation. This could be the link between religion and health benefits such as lower blood pressure, slower heart rates, decreased anxiety and an enhanced sense of well-being.

Can prayer heal others?

At nine medical centers around the country, 750 patients with potentially life- threatening heart problems participated in the MANTRA (Chant) project, a recently concluded randomized trial of intercessory prayer or distant healing. The names of half the patients were given to groups – including Carmelite nuns, Buddhist monks, Sufi Muslims and Evangelical Congregations- who prayed for their recovery. In the next few months they found that in a pilot study, prayer recipients had 50% to 100% fewer complications.

Skeptics remain dubious, “The premise behind distant healing is not scientific.” Even writers on spirituality, concede that science may never prove that prayer can heal others. That does not mean that people should not take advantage of this wonderful tool that is right at their fingertips.