Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The clockmaker may not exist, but prayer can still help us Tick.

Now let's get one thing straight. I am not suggesting that you can pray to some unknown deity and have a limb replaced or a dead person resuscitated, but does that mean there is no benefit to prayer? I would say not. There are several ways in which prayer can directly and indirectly help. Afterall the primary reason it can be effective comes directly from a faith perspective.

Hebrews 11

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."

For many Christians and I would imagine people of other faiths, prayer is exactly this. They are convicted and truly believe that their words will be heard. And it is in this belief that the wonders can some times happen. We many times see this effect when someone takes a placebo drug. They truly believe that it will be affective and for some reason this helps alter their body chemistry which in turn leads to some types of healing. Science hasnt quite figured out why or how this happens but that shouldnt negate its potential benefit. So I bet you are asking, how can prayer be effective from person to person? Well, again this is based on their faith. If someone truly believes that their G-d will heal them, then obviously the more people that pray for them, the more comforted they become and the potential for them to access their own healing system becomes enhanced. Add to that when being prayed for directly, many times the prayor will lay their hands on the prayed for. The reason for the sometimes benefit is two fold here.

1. Touch affects our central nervous system, releasing feel good and pain relief hormones.(We see this with premature babies, the ones that are touched grow 40% faster)

2. The emotional connection to others who care for you also has a powerful effect. It definately makes you feel loved and cared for, which in turn can lead to healing.

The point of all this is, many Prayers are not only physically beneficial, they are emotionally beneficial as well. So for all you G-dless athiests ;), the next time some one says they would like to pray for you, give it a whirl(regardless if you have faith), you may enjoy the laying on of hands. And here in North America, couldn't we all use a little more touch and caring that doesnt have anything to do with sex.

Tick Tock, Tick Tock.


Redlefty said...

Nice thoughts!

I've heard it said that even if prayer does nothing in the divine sense, it strengthens three earthly relationships:

1) You and yourself. Good 'ole introspection.

2) You and the one you're praying for. Next time you see them you'll be closer to them, even if they don't know you prayed.

3) You and the one you prayed with, if someone was listening in.

I like your point of the placebo effect. Whether or not it's based on fact, it still works!

The Jesting Fool said...

I'm inclined to agree with you that there are definite benefits to prayer and faith, even though the "clockmaker" probably isn't real. Sometimes it can be hard to know how to react to people who say they're praying for you when you've rejected the very God they pray to.

Even if it is a placebo effect, prayer can still be beneficial sometimes.

mac said...

But, I think for the placebo to be effctive, one has to believe the placebo is real.

If I take sugar tablets for my disease knowing they are sugar tablets, I will surely get no placebo effect from the sugar( especially if my disease is diabetes ;-)

However, if I take sugar tablets thinking they are medication, I just might get an effect - maybe.

Now, I'm sure god is sugar. No matter how much you tell me it's medication, I know better. It's just sugar... and I just might be diabetic ;-)

As to letting another lay hands on me, she better be really cute !
No, seriously, I believe religion is a control device. It's not Christianity, or Islam, or Judaism, or Buddhism, it's RELIGION - all religion. It's a construct of man to control other men.
Why would I let someone "lay hands" on me when I believe this way. I guess if I wanted to be controlled...back to the pretty girl again ;-)

Luke said...

i once told my sister (who was going to a more fundie church at the time), how i prayed. she scoffed and said "that just sounds like thinking!"

in away it is. it helps you form your thoughts, visualize your present locale and your intended destination. but there's something else i feel with prayer... namely the energy to get moving! sometimes it isn't me that takes that step, but another giving me a nudge.

great post!

Anonymous said...

Prayer benefits - who woulda thunk I tend to agree with all your points here - the laying on of hands might be a bit much - but I agree with the quality of personal care prayer can provide (or meditation). There is something about being alone with your thoughts and just dealing with them at face value - or finding that small comfort zone where u can be u.

MS Quixote said...

My compliments on the post, Tat...fair enough.

Tit for Tat said...

Thanks for the comments everyone.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this. The truth is often found between extremes.

West Virginia Salvation said...

Tit For Tat,

Yeah prayer surely worked well for Madeline Kara Neumann. (playing Devil's advocate) Sorry guys, prayer does not work for much more than a personal sense of well-wishing and as Redlefty said, introspection.
I don't doubt the power of positive reinforcement, but ill and dying is still ill and dying no matter how much you petition the divine realm!


Tit for Tat said...

Hey Anoat

Thanks for the response. I think you miss my point though. I dont say prayer without medical aid. What Im saying is maybe prayer accesses some part of our brain that helps with healing. Maybe thats the divine part. ;)

West Virginia Salvation said...

Sorry, I guess the word Divine just makes me a bit queezy. I'm working on that! I have patients talking about blessings and salvation all day long and I know they are referring to preferential treatment from God and miracles. But, I can concede your point. I've always thought of these things as vacuous rhetoric that people say when nothing else makes sense to them. Sort of like folks who say 'Ummmm' a thousand times during a conversation.
But, well, Umm, like, thats all I was thinking. :)


Anonymous said...

Should, you may borrow my post, since, I'm sure you will use proper accreditation.

Tit for Tat said...


But of course I will. Thanks.

Lorena said...

What Im saying is maybe prayer accesses some part of our brain that helps with healing. Maybe thats the divine part. ;)

Yeah, I believe that, actually. Though I may be the only atheist in the entire universe to do so.

Then again, that little bit of benefit that prayer may offer is lost to us atheists who, first, have a hard time believing the incredible, and two, have seen way too many prayers unanswered.

I am waiting for somebody to write a book that will help me believe "in my brain," by removing all the religious paraphernalia.

Tit for Tat said...

am waiting for somebody to write a book that will help me believe "in my brain," by removing all the religious paraphernalia.(Lorena)

I think the part that does it is your intuition. You may have shut it down when practicing your religion, but there's no reason to shut it down when it comes to your healing. :)

Will said...

Nice post. I am reading a book called "The Survival Club" about peopel who survive terrible ordeals of one sort or another. Faith and prayer are a big part of survival apparently, but only in certain ways. For example, faith can allow people to concentrate on particular aspects of their situation and not worry about others - if you are confident you are going to heaven, you won't be quite so afraid to die, and you can concentrate on the important stuff. This might be irrational but it works.

It's my opinion that compassion and touch are very important to our survival, and prayer provides a framework for this to happen in. If you know, even unconsciously, that someone is comforting/touching you and hoping for your recovery, it seems reasonable that you might get some energy or motivation from it.

I prefer meditation to prayer, as meditation doesn't require faith of any sort. But I think the mental benefits are similar.

BTW, I'm adding this site to my blogroll. :-)

Tit for Tat said...

Thanks Will. Ive added yours already. ;)

Jim Jordan said...

**And here in North America, couldn't we all use a little more touch and caring that doesnt have anything to do with sex.**

That's an excellent and very profound thought. We have been distracted from touching and caring that has no self-interest involved.

We are overlooking that our whole existence is based on an unselfish, uncaused cause or nothing. What other description of unselfish love is clearer than that of God loving us. He really has NO reason for it outside of a sincere desire for our well-being; your pure heart prayer example is spot on.