THE HEALING POWER OF PRAYER
The Messenger of Allah (SAWS) said, “Save your souls! Act, and the best of actions is prayer.” He also said that, “Shaitaan is ever in fear of the faithful one who is meticulous in his five daily prayers. When the worshipper begins to neglect his obligation of offering prayer then Shaitaan is emboldened to act against him and reduce him to greater sins.”
Maulana Ali (AS) said, “Prayer is the pillar of religion. Among the works of man, prayer is the one that Allah sees first. If this is sound, then Allah will take into consideration his other works, but if it is not, none of his other acts will be accounted. He who abandons prayer has no share in the bounties of Islam.”
(1) Quantifying and analyzing the effects of prayer on health has become a budding scientific field. Researchers have attempted to see if the effect of prayer can be evaluated in the same way as any other treatment, running studies in which some people who were ill were exposed to prayer in addition to being given medicine and therapy, and others with the same illness received standard medical treatment. It was found that patients who had been prayed for by others tended to recover with fewer complications than those who received standard treatment without prayer. Their need for antibiotics was one-fifth that of other recovering patients.
(2) Those who do believe have no doubt that prayer helps to heal. A recent survey found that 43 percent of the adult population had prayed specifically for their own health in the previous year, and that more than half of those surveyed had at one point in their lives prayed for their own health. And cardiologists say that 97 percent of patients pray the night before they have heart surgery.
(3) In a study of older adults, those who frequently attended religious services were less likely to have undesirably high levels of a protein involved in factors, signaling healthier immune systems, than those who did not attend. In a study of 4000 adults, it was found that those who prayed daily and attended religious services had 40% less hypertension than those who didn't pray or go to services.
(4) In a study of women with breast cancer, it was found that the women who rated spirituality as important had greater numbers of circulating white blood cells, reflecting stronger immune systems, than those who did not. A study of AIDS patients revealed that the most religious patients had the lowest levels of the stress hormone and that frequency of prayer was significantly related to longer survival.
(5) 40 percent of the more than 5600 respondents said that they prayed for their health “all the time.” And of those who prayed for their health at all, 71 percent said they prayed about specific diseases like cancer or chronic pain, and 65 percent said that they prayed because of emotional disorders or mental illness. One respondent said that he “suffered from severe depression, and without prayer, I would not have made it.”
(6) Other participants in the survey reported that prayer had brought sudden and surprising cures. “I was scheduled to have open heart surgery for three blocked arteries,” said one. “Friends and family prayed, and the next morning my doctor said my arteries were as clear as a teenager's.”
Another person said, “My daughter was healed of all the results from a traumatic birth that was expected to kill her or leave her severely disabled. She has no disabilities at all.”
(7) More than 1 in 3 respondents said the most important purpose of prayer was “intimacy with Allah”. Another 28 percent said the most important purpose of prayer was “to seek Allah's guidance.” And 67 percent reported that their prayers in the past six months have related to giving thanks to Allah all the time.
This sense of relationship with a divine being has profound psychological effects. Prayer can organize anxieties, alleviate worries, offer a sense of comfort and connection, and solidify communities. It can assist in changing bad behavior.
In the end, prayer is about realms of consciousness as yet unexplored. Whether or not prayers are actually answered doesn't really matter but for those who believe, here is where the true power of prayer will ever reside.
- Excerpts from Reader's Digest.