Tag Archives: prayer in medicine

Prayer May Help Victims of Domestic Abuse

Patients use prayer as part of healing process

Prayer teaches coping methods for the victims of domestic abuse and allows an outlet for dealing with a wide variety of emotions, according to a recent small study. This is just one of many, many studies showing the benefits of prayer in both physical and emotional health. Here are the details from HealthDay News:

Prayer can help victims of domestic violence deal with their situation and emotions by using coping methods such as venting, a small new study suggests.

It included dozens of people in abusive relationships who were interviewed by Shane Sharp, a sociology graduate student at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The racially diverse participants came from different regions of the United States, were mostly from Christian backgrounds and had varying levels of education.

One finding was that prayer offers “a readily available listening ear” to people who were boiling with anger.

“If they vented their anger to their abuse partner, the result was likely to be more violence. But they could be angry at God while praying without fear of reprisal,” Sharp said in a university news release.

Prayer also offers domestic abuse victims an opportunity to see themselves as God views them.

“During prayer, victims came to see themselves as they believed God saw them. Since these perceptions were mostly positive, it helped raise their senses of self-worth that counteracted their abuser’s hurtful words,” Sharp said.

For some, folding their hands and focusing on what to say while praying provides a reprieve from the anxiety of their situation. The experience is similar to having a conversation with a close friend or a parent.

But prayer isn’t always beneficial.

“For some, through prayer they told me they learned to forgive their abusive partners, to let go of their anger and resentment,” Sharp said. “But that’s a double-edged sword. It’s good for those who are out of that violent relationship to let go of it to a certain extent. But if they’re still in their violent relationship, it may postpone their decision to leave, and that can be bad.”

Many of the participants said they believe in God but don’t belong to a specific church.

The study appeared in the journal Social Psychology Quarterly.

Here are some of my other blogs on prayer:

Patients use prayer as part of healing process

The Chicago Tribune reports, “The relationship between prayer and physical healing has long been the subject of conflicting studies. Some indicate prayer can help, but at least one study concluded that in some cases it can be harmful.”

Researchers “found that coronary bypass patients who were told strangers were praying for them did worse than those who got no prayers.” But, “increasingly … prayers are being offered by chaplains, doctors, nurses, and social workers. They are recited in hospitals before and after surgery, during treatments, upon admission and discharge, and on the anniversary of a diagnosis.”

Despite this one negative study, there are not “some” studies showing prayer can help, but hundreds of studies showing a positive association between a wide variety of spiritual interventions (spiritual assessment, prayer, spiritual counseling, etc.) and physical and emotional health outcomes.

You can read more on this topic in my book, Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook. You can order a signed copy here. You can also read some of my blogs on Faith-Based Health and Healing:

You can read more on this topic in my book, Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook. You can find it here.
Also, citations to all of the studies quoted in this blog are found in the book.
Additional Blogs on Faith-Based Health and Healing:
Part 1 – What does the Bible say about health?
Part 2 – What Value Should We Place on Our Health?
Part 3 – Devout Faith Helps but Does Not Guarantee Good Health
Part 4 – Can Faith be Unhealthy?
Part 5 – What Causes Sickness?
Part 6 – Why God’s Response Isn’t Always to Heal
Part 7 – Not All Healing is From God
Part 8 – Illegitimate Spiritual Practices
Part 9 – Life Energy and Medical Magic
Part 10 – Medical Characters Condemned for Pursuing Certain Forms of Healing
Part 11 – Look to the Bible, Not Inner Voices, for Guidance
Part 12 – Biblical Principles on Which to Base Medical Decisions and The Power of Faith

Bedside Economics and Healthcare Reform – A Christian Doctor’s Response

My dear friend, Al Weir, MD, is an oncologist in Memphis, TN. He has served in Africa as a missionary and served with the Christian Medical Association. He’s just written a wonderful devotional called, “Bedside Economics” It is based upon Psalm 106:3, “Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right.” Al’s writings alway provoke me to deep contemplation. None moreso than this one:

It has provoked me to deep contemplation.

He was an oncologist transplanted from the Caribbean to Canada where he worked in a small British Columbia city. We sat beside each other at a medical meeting and began to discuss the economics of healthcare in both his country and mine.

In discussing a given treatment regimen, both effective and approved for use, he made the statement, “Those drugs are too expensive for the 5% of people whom thy actually save, so I don’t use them.”

In the midst of our national healthcare reform discussion we are all aware of the cost of healthcare. Healthcare costs too much for many of our patients and for our country’s economic health. Sometimes in our discussions, and even in our practice decision making, we may confuse the macro economics of patient care with the economics of caring for the individual patient who is sitting in front of us.

The cost of care in each is extremely important, but the doctor’s considerations in each are quite different. As doctors, we do have a special level of understanding of the healthcare arena and thus have a responsibility to inform the national debate regarding the expenditure of healthcare dollars. We should enter this debate publically without the bias of personal gain and seek to maximize both good for patients in general and for our nation as a whole.

However, when we face our individual patients with diagnostic and therapeutic decision making, our concerns are modified.

We, as Christian doctors, understand that we have a covenant relationship with our patients in which they offer their trust and compliance, while we offer our full dedication to their benefit, unaffected by our desire for personal gain. Actually, we have a three way covenant relationship since our Lord is partnering with us in their care, increasing our concern for the good of the patient and adding the commitment that our care should point towards Him.

This covenant relationship should lead to at least three defining questions each time we present our patients with diagnostic or therapeutic options:

  • Which approach provides the greatest benefit for this patient, both toward his/her stated goals and toward my understanding of their best good?
  • Which approach harms my patient least economically?
  • Am I certain that my recommendations are not distorted by personal gain?

I have discovered in my own practice that when I fail to ask these questions, I will drift toward my natural desire for personal fulfillment, which may not be the best way to show God’s love for my patient.

Dr. Weir then offers this prayer, one that I prayed today:

Dear God, please let me always put the good of my patients first so that Your reflection from my life may not be distorted by the economics of their care. Amen.

How to Keep Normal Labor Normal – Part 12 – Prayer

This blog series is designed to help women who are developing a birth plan join together with like-minded birthing professionals so as to have a shorter and safer labor and birth. Although written primarily for professional birth attendants, I hope information will be helpful to lay women planning their birth. Today we’ll look at the tenth “P” of my 10 “P’s” of keeping labor shorter and birth safer — prayer.

Although labor and delivery has been considered a “spiritual event” by midwives at least since the publication of Spiritual Midwifery(82) in the 1960’s, there is some recent literature that looks at the influence of spiritual beliefs on labor and delivery outcomes.

One study which examined whether family physicians were aware or not of their patient’s spiritual belief systems stated, “these results suggest that family physicians are infrequently aware of faith beliefs and experiences among their patients.” (83)

Others have commented on how important a component spirituality is to medical care in general: “We emphasize the importance of understanding the relationship between patients’ religious beliefs and their ability to deal with stress,” (84) and that, “Spirituality is an important aspect of health care that is not often addressed in modern day primary medical practice.

The authors conclude that, when appropriate, spiritual issues should be addressed in patient care since they may have a positive impact on patient health and behavior.” (85)

One excellent review shared with practitioners a method for reviewing a patient’s spiritual belief systems using the acrostic SPIRIT where:

  • S = Spiritual belief system;
  • P = Personal spirituality;
  • I = Integration and involvement;
  • R = Ritual practices and/or restrictions;
  • I = Implications for medical care;
  • T = Terminal event (delivery) planning. (86)

Although prayer and strongly internalized religious belief systems have been shown to have a positive association with positive health outcomes, very little data is available for maternity care outcomes.

For an event that midwives consider “intuitively spiritual” (82) the paucity of research is surprising.

However, one study did examine the influence of religious belief on maternity care outcomes and concluded, “Maternal and neonatal complications occurred significantly more often in women who identified themselves as having no religious preference than in women who had a religious affiliation … We conclude that a small positive influence of religion … appears to be a directly beneficial effect.” (87)

Here’s the entire series:

  1. Philosophy,
  2. Partners,
  3. Professionals,
  4. Pain control,
  5. Procedures,
  6. Patience,
  7. Preparation,
  8. Positions,
  9. Payment, and
  10. Prayer.


    (82) Gaskin IM. Spiritual Midwifery. 3rd edition. Summertown, TN : The Book Publishing Co., 1990.
    (83) King DE, Sobal J, Haggarty J 3d, Dent M, Patton D. Experiences and attitudes about faith healing among family physicians. J Fam Pract 1992;35:158-62.
    (84) Sherill KA, Larson DB. Adult burn patients: the role of religion in recovery. S Med J 1988;7:819-24.
    (85) McKee DD, Chappel JN. Spirituality and medical practice. J Fam Pract 1992;35:201-8.
    (86) Maugans T. The SPIRITual history. Arch Fam Med 1996;5:11-6.
    (87) King DE, Hueston W, Rudy M. Religious affiliation and obstetric outcome. South Med J 1994;87:1125-8.
    (82) Gaskin IM. Spiritual Midwifery. 3rd edition. Summertown, TN : The Book Publishing Co., 1990.
    (83) King DE, Sobal J, Haggarty J 3d, Dent M, Patton D. Experiences and attitudes about faith healing among family physicians. J Fam Pract 1992;35:158-62.
    (84) Sherill KA, Larson DB. Adult burn patients: the role of religion in recovery. S Med J 1988;7:819-24.
    (85) McKee DD, Chappel JN. Spirituality and medical practice. J Fam Pract 1992;35:201-8.
    (86) Maugans T. The SPIRITual history. Arch Fam Med 1996;5:11-6.
    (87) King DE, Hueston W, Rudy M. Religious affiliation and obstetric outcome. South Med J 1994;87:1125-8.

    Majority of Docs Believe In Miracles

    A new national study among 1,134 physicians revealed that the majority (72%) believe that miracles have occurred in the past and 70% believe that they can occur today. In addition, 69% indicated that religion is a reliable and necessary guide to life. 

    More Information: Continue reading