Praying with your doctor may not be the first thing that pops into your mind when you’re sick or hospitalized, but research shows that a doctor’s prayers can help fight disease.
If you’re a kid with cancer (or a parent with a sick child), praying with your doctor may not seem to be an option. It woudn’t occur to me to pray with my doctor, nurse, or counselor…but I would try it if I thought it would make a difference to our infertility problems!
Since 93% of physicians are raised in religious homes, it only stands to reason that many are open to connecting with families of very sick children through spirituality or religion.
One thing doctors lack is the formal training to pray or meditate with families – but this could change in the future.
If you’re ready to start praying for healing now – without your doctor – read Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine.
Doctors Praying For and With Patients Helps Fight Disease
“Increasingly, religion and spirituality are being recognized as important in the care of critically ill patients and we know that many patients draw on such resources to cope with their child’s illness,” says sociologist Wendy Cadge from Brandeis University. She and researchers from the University at Buffalo (SUNY) studied the effect of cancer diagnoses on children, families, and pediatric oncologists.
These researchers found that the majority of physicians surveyed reported that their spiritual or religious beliefs influenced their interactions with patients and families – whether the patients know it or not. So, doctors and patients don’t necessarily need to pray together for healing from illness to occur.
How Illness and Spirituality are Connected
Though still controversial in the medical community, it’s becoming increasingly accepted that illness raises a patient’s spiritual awareness. The majority of doctors believe spirituality influences health very much – in a positive way – but only 6% believe religion actually changes medical outcomes. Researchers at the University of Chicago also found that most doctors believe spirituality helps people cope, gives patients a positive state of mind, and provides emotional and practical support through the religious community.
Dr Cadge says, “This study suggests that we should consider training to help physicians relate spiritually to families confronting life-threatening illnesses such as cancer.”
Relating spiritually to patients includes meditating or praying together, talking about God and the meaning of life, and perhaps even discussing Scripture.
The Future of Doctors Praying With Patients
Spirituality training in medical school may involve teaching doctors to pray with patients for healing from illness, and also include learning how to approach the “God topic” sensitively – because not all members of the same family hold the same spiritual beliefs.
What do you think – would you pray with your doctor?
Praying with your doctor isn’t a guarantee that you’ll heal from disease, but it can decrease your fear of death.
Source: JAMA and Archives Journals (2007, April 10). Most Physicians Believe That Religion Influences Patients’ Health.