The Healing Power of Prayer

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Dr. Winston Morrow, BASc, PHD, DC, BCIM, FAAIM

There is nothing as powerful as the petition to God for help. There are many research projects that have viewed “prayer” in the same way as science would examine a new drug. In the weeks to come I will be posting on this site a list of “scientific” projects that confirm what most believers already know…God answers prayers! In Medicine, we see the touch of God all the time, but it is called “spontaneous remission.” If it happens at a prayer meeting, then God gets the credit, otherwise it is just one of those inexplicable marvels of the human body.

Dr. Randolph Byrd, a Christian cardiologist, conducted a study in 1984 that has led to a resurgence of scientific evaluation of the effect of prayer on healing.

393 patients, admitted to the coronary care unit at San Francisco General Hospital, over a 10 month period were randomly selected, by computer, to either a 201 patient control group or the 192 patients who were prayed for daily by 5-7 people in home prayer groups. This was a randomized, double-blind experiment in which neither the patients, nurses, nor doctors knew which group the patients were in.

Dr. Byrd discovered a definite pattern of obvious differences between the control group and those prayed for:

  1. None of those prayed for required endotracheal intubation compared with twelve in the control group requiring the insertion of an artificial airway in the throat.
  2. The prayed for group experienced fewer cases of pneumonia and cardiopulmonary arrests.
  3. Those prayed for were five times less likely to require antibiotics.
  4. The prayed for group were three times less likely to develop pulmonary edema, a condition where the lungs fill with fluid.
  5. Fewer patients in the prayed for group died.

Dr. Larry Dossey, M.D. states, referring to Dr. Byrd’s experiment, that “If the technique being studied had been a new drug or a surgical procedure instead of prayer, it would almost certainly have been heralded as some sort of breakthrough.” The importance of this experiment is that it stands up to scientific scrutiny. Dr. William Nolan, who has written a book debunking faith healing, acknowledged, ”It sounds like this study will stand up to scrutiny…maybe we doctors ought to be writing on our order sheets, ‘pray 3 times a day.’ If it works, it works.”

Extensive experimental evidence for “spiritual healing” is one of the best kept secrets in medical science.

Daniel J. Benor, M.D., an American psychiatrist working in England, surveyed all such healing studies published in the English language prior to 1990. His search turned up 131 studies, most of them on non-humans. In 56 of these studies, there was less than one chance in a hundred that the positive results were due to chance. In an additional 21 studies, the possibility of a chance explanation was between 2 and 5 chances in a 100. A complete list of Dr. Benor’s compilation will be available soon.

As an example of his compilation, 60 subjects not known to have healing ability were able to both impede and stimulate significantly the growth of cultures of bacteria.

In another experiment, volunteers were asked to alter the genetic ability of a strain of bacteria to metabolize the sugar lactose. The results indicated that the bacteria indeed mutated in the direction desired by the subjects.

Medical journals, until recently, have generally refused to publish studies on healing.

In December of 1998 issue of JAMA the Journal of the American Medical Association, Mike Mitka commented on the number of research articles available to physicians wanting to incorporate spirituality into their treatment arsenal. JAMA specifically referred to the following works:

  1. Duke University reports that people who attended religious services at least once a week and prayed or studied the Bible at least daily had consistently lower blood pressure than those who did so less frequently or not at all.
  2. Harold Koenig, M.D. from Duke reported that in his study that elderly patients suffering from depression related to hospitalization for a physical illness, the more spiritual they were, the quicker they reached remission from depression.
  3. In a study of 1,718 older adults in North Carolina that indicated elderly people who regularly attend church have healthier immune systems than those who don’t.
  4. A fourth study found that patients aged 60 or older who attended church weekly or more often were significantly less likely to have been admitted to the hospital, had fewer acute-hospital admissions, and spent fewer days in the hospital during the previous year than those who attended church less often.

The Journal of the National Cancer Institute reported that studies indicate many cancer patients, in particular, rely on religion and spirituality after their diagnosis.

A University of Michigan study involving 93 of 106 women under treatment for various stages of uterine and ovarian cancer, said their religious lives helped them sustain hope. Edward Creagan, M.D., of the Division of Medical Oncology at the Mayo Clinic, said that “among the coping methods of long-term cancer survivors, the predominate strategy is spiritual.

A 1999 study reported in the Journal of Gerontology found that individuals who regularly attended church lived 28 percent longer than those who did not regularly attend…this is the same percentage of longevity as nonsmokers compared to smokers!

A survey of 400 patients in Georgia in 1989 revealed that those who believed religion was very important had lower diastolic blood pressure readings than those who did not, according to Forbs magazine.

In 1996, Time magazine did a cover story on the belief in the power of prayer for health and healing. The poll found that 82 percent of the adult Americans believed in the healing power of personal prayer, 73 percent believed praying for someone can help cure their illness, and 64 percent believed doctors should pray with patients if requested to.

Newsweek confirmed the findings, a year later with its own poll, in which 79 percent of respondents who said they prayed regularly declared that they believe God answers prayers for healing.

Lancet, a British medical publication, reported: “Of 296 physicians surveyed during the October, 1996, meeting of the American Academy of Family Physicians, 99% were convinced that religious beliefs can heal, and 75% believed that prayers of others could promote a patient’s recovery.

Dr. Morrow’s personal healing

Since 1988, when God miraculously healed me from having to have my left arm amputated at the shoulder, I have prayed for all of my patients. I have seen new shoulders, confirmed by before and after X-rays, tumors the size of grapefruits disappear and so very many obvious spontaneous and instantaneous healings that I can only conclude that God supernaturally intervened. In the case of my healing, I had a white count of 75,000, my arm was swollen to almost twice the size of my other arm, it was blue and green with obvious gangrene, and the pain was so intense that I could not bear it. After I was told, “we have to amputate your arm at the shoulder tomorrow morning, because the IV antibiotics are not working and your whole body is infected and your heart will literally turn to mush”, I checked out of the hospital and a patient of mine said that God would not let that happen, almost had to drag me into my own office, began to pray and I was beginning to get upset at her audacity, almost to the point of anger, suddenly, I felt 10,000 degrees of sweet heat start at the top of my head and fill my body…instantly, not 5 minutes or an hour, but instantly I got a new arm, no swelling, no discoloration, no pain…this event was the impetus for my praying for all of my patients before treatment begins. I do it with them, asking God for Wisdom, and asking his Holy Spirit to do those things that I cannot do as a man. Sometimes the anointing is so strong that it is obvious that the Spirit of God is present. I thank Him constantly for hitting me over the head and waking up this Christian who didn’t believe that God is in the healing business today. I thought that it all stopped with the apostles. I am currently doing a literature search and will report those articles that have “scientific” merit. As well as offer evidence to the intellectual for the existence of God.

How to pray for a miracle

I present here only the very basics of prayer. Not as an authority on the subject, but rather as an individual who has studied the subject, who sees the power of the Holy Spirit in action, daily, understands Gods promises to us and claims those promises for myself, my business, my finances, my patients and my family. Books have been written on this subject so as a synopsis and easy guide, I offer the following. One of the most important steps is to seek prayer from individuals who are termed “prayer warriors.” These are individuals who feel a call from God to do intercessory prayer…interceding on the behalf of individuals to our heavenly Father. A list of ministries who have thousands of people praying 24 hrs a day is at the end of this article…take advantage of them, they know how and are willing to help. One of the advantages of calling a well established ministry is that their “prayer lines” are staffed by trained Christian counselors who will take the time to walk you through your problems…without any strings attached. They are outstanding in their ability to discern, through the Holy Spirit, how to help you.

Step 1

Get right with God. Ask for forgiveness for all of your sins and short-comings. Jesus is the bridge between man and God, Call upon Him for salvation, deliverance and help. For example: Jesus, forgive me for all my sins and transgressions and cleanse me of all unrighteousness. Come into my life and make me a new creation. Wash me clean with the precious blood that you shed for me. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and help me to make you Lord of my life.

Step 2

The Greek word for prayer is deesis, an entreating; continued strong and incessant pleading with God until the prayer is answered. Read Luke 18:1-5 to discover the power of persevering prayer. Luke 11:1-13 is Jesus’ answer to his disciples who wanted to know how to pray. In short if you “bug” God it seems to work like my daughter pestering me for something…I give in more often than not. Since it is Jesus telling them to pray without ceasing and gives numerous examples, it seems worthy to do just what He instructed us to do. Pray without ceasing until the answer comes. If it is healing that you want ask him for it…continually. Remind Him of his word. “If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” John 14:14.

Notice that He didn’t say almost anything, He said anything! It is for His glory that He answers prayers.

Step 3

Start praising God. He apparently really enjoys praise and worship. It is the praise that gets us invited into His presence so that worship can begin. He is full of grace and mercy and inhabits the praises of His people. When you are in His presence, about all you can do is worship Him. It is truly an awesome experience to be invited into His presence. Remember, “life and death are in the power of your tongue.” Proverbs 18:21, so start speaking things into reality as you desire them. Get rid of all “stinking thinking” and focus on the goodness of life and the beauty of His creation.

Since some people really don’t know how to praise or worship, let me suggest that you find a church that is “spirit-filled” and believes in miracles. Look for one like you would look for a home. Ask people about their church, but don’t get caught up in legalism. It is not how and where you get baptized that’s important. It doesn’t matter if its Saturday service or Sunday. God doesn’t want us arguing about foods or make-up, nor does He care if we solve the riddle of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. He is interested in your heart.

Step 4

Start reading the bible daily. It really is the inspired word of God. I will be putting up for your pleasure and knowledge, information on why I believe the bible is, in fact, the word of God. There are many excellent books that will help you grow and many that will not. Look for material from Joseph Prince, Benny Hinn, Lester Sumrall, Kenneth Hagen, John Hagee, Kenneth Copeland, Marilyn Hickey, Casey Treat, Dr. Hugh Ross, Grant Jeffreys, to name a few… if you need something to start reading. Get a study bible and begin the most fantastic journey of your life. He says, “my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6 Listen to tapes about God, His son Jesus, and His Holy Spirit. Watch Christian TV and listen to better music, hear things that edify as well as say things that encourage and uplift.

Increased knowledge means more power for you. Knowing His promises gives you the advantage of praying for specific things…how can you pray for things that you do not know about. His promises to us are many, but how about this one for starters, “Beloved, I wish above all things that you prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.” 3 John 1:2.

I thank God that He wants us to prosper and be in good health. If you are not, find out why! He say’s “call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show you great and mighty things, which you know not.” Jeremiah 33:3 He didn’t say call upon me and if I’m not too busy creating something somewhere or if I have the time or care enough, I might answer. He says, “I will answer you.”

May His Grace abound in your life!!
With His love,
Dr. Winston G. Morrow, BASc., PHD, DC, BCIM, FAAIM Copyright © 2003-2014