August 2003: Page 1, 2, 3, 4

Submitters Perspective

Page 2

The Prayer

Cont’d from page 1

  • According to University of Miami research, AIDS patients who became long-term survivors were more likely to be those involved in religious practices and volunteer work.
  • In another study overseen by Duke University researchers, subjects who both attended worship services and regularly prayed had lower blood pressure than a control group. In another study, women in a risk group for various complications of pregnancy were less likely to suffer problems, such as low-birth-weight babies, if they prayed.
  • It is been shown in medical studies conducted all over that prayer and faith have been shown to speed recovery from depression, alcoholism, hip surgery, drug addiction, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, heart attacks and bypass surgery.

As illustrated in these studies, all conducted by highly regarded medical institutions, petitionary prayer (praying for yourself), continually shows tangible benefits. The most dramatic statistics showing the benefits of prayer have to do with a person’s mental health, and more specifically, depression. Prayer helps with everyday depression, depression related to an illness, depression related to growing old, depression related to loss, etc.

For instance, one study of 1,000 seriously ill men in Veterans


Administration hospitals found that "religious coping," including prayer, decreased depression, even though it did not prolong life span. A study of self-described Christian patients found that prayer accelerated recovery from depression caused by illness; a study of self-described Muslims found that prayer accelerated recovery from "anxiety disorder," a mild form of clinical depression suffered by many people. Numerous other academic studies have also found that prayer reduces depression.

The fact that prayer can have health benefits now appears sufficiently well supported by research data that the American Cancer Society recently declared, "Sometimes answers come from prayer when medical science has none." Some physicians and academics protested when the American Cancer Society made that statement. With the ever-growing body of evidence that prayer is good medicine, however, they are finding it harder and harder to argue. Studies by Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard University have shown that inducing a relaxed, prayerful state of mind is good both for health and immune system response. He says, "I view the benefits of prayer mainly as psychological or social, not as a supernatural effect, though of course the research can't rule that out. All the research can show is that prayer sometimes really does confer benefits." Again, this shows that even skeptics or doctors and researchers who may not be religious themselves cannot ignore the scientific data that has been collected regarding the power of prayer.

Martin Seligman, a former president of the American Psychological Association, has suggested that prayer

helps recovery from illness and depression by focusing the mind on things to be grateful for in life. God tells us over and over in the Quran to be grateful for all of the amazing gifts He has given us. Being appreciative and thanking God not only pleases God, but makes us realize how lucky we all are, AND it has health benefits!

OK, so besides all the clinical studies proving the importance of prayer, why should we do it? Because God says so! If we look to the Quran, we are told to implore God, to pray, to be grateful for His gifts. We are given examples of those who have implored God and who have been saved. We see the example of Noah, who “called and we responded to him. We saved him and his family from the great disaster.” (21:76). Later Job turned to God and, “he called upon his Lord, “the devil has afflicted me with hardship and pain” God responded to his prayer with “Strike the ground with your foot. A spring will give you healing and a drink.” (38:41-42).

As we know and can see from such examples, God responds to prayers. Even when it may seem like your prayers are being ignored, they are not. God knows what is best and is in control of everything. By praying to God, even if you are praying for something other than what He has planned for you, you are acknowledging that God is the one who controls all things. God knows what we do not.

When My servants ask you about Me, I am always near. I answer their prayers when they pray to Me. The people shall respond to Me and believe in Me, in order to be guided. (2:186)