Editor's note: The following essay is part of a new department in the Mind & Body blog called "Gotta Have Faith," where Utne readers of all faiths and spiritual persuasions are invited to share their perspectives on religion and spirituality in a civil and respectful forum. If you'd like to submit a post to this blog, please contact Christian Williams.
While in a meeting, a newspaper editor, after learning that I practiced spiritual-based healing, said, "Since Christian Science is weird, it ... "
The editor stopped mid-sentence, looked at me, and said, "Oh, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to say weird. I'm so sorry."
After the editor apologized several more times, I said, "Forget about it. It's okay," and we went back to our pleasant discussion.
The editor's "Weird" comment reminded me of '73. In 1973, I was in Brad Shearer's kitchen. Brad and I attended high school together. He was a star football player who went on to play for the Texas Longhornsand the Chicago Bears.
While in Brad's kitchen, I watched as he took a large glass measuring cup and cracked eight eggs into it. After whipping the eggs, he opened the door of a small machine, placed the measuring cup inside, closed the door, and turned a dial. A minute or so later, he opened the door, took out the cup, and began eating the eggs with a fork. Weird!
Weird, because in '73 I had never heard of, much less, seen a microwave oven. How did those eggs cook in just a minute?
Just as the microwave seemed weird to me in '73, the thought of providing prayer for illness or pain can seem the same to you when you first encounter it. However, both are effective. Both utilize laws. The microwave transforms food. Spiritual treatments can transform people. Both accomplish this from the inside out.
The microwave oven cooks by a completely different method than a conventional oven. It uses radio waves. The waves are absorbed by the food's water, fats and sugars. As they are absorbed, the waves convert into atomic motion—heat. This heat cooks the food.
Just so, spiritual treatments heal by transforming thought. Heats it up, so to speak. The cold/dark fears of materialistic thinking, which cause difficulties, melt and vanish allowing our natural strength, balance, and health to be experienced.
As radical as it sounds, we live in a mental world and the body is thought manifest. Simply put, just as a sad thought causes tears, thought touches every aspect of our being. As thought is spiritually transformed, the body expresses greater health.
Those looking into how Jesus healed so effectively are discovering life to be controlled by divine laws, and health to be governed spiritually. Weird to some. Wonderfully important to many.
Researches at the Danish Pain Research Center, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark, recently revealed the findings from their study on prayer. They discovered that "prayer reduced pain intensity by thirty-four percent and pain unpleasantness by thirty-eight percent for religious participants, but not for non-religious participants." The study shows that prayerful expectations can contribute to better health outcomes.
Studying the effectiveness of prayer is not easy. The reason? Just as not all medications are the same, not all prayers are the same.
Neither are people who pray entirely the same. It would be difficult to grasp the complete driving ability of the 2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe if the test-drivers were fifteen-year-olds from your neighborhood driver education class. Just so, each test subject during a study of prayer’s ability may not be spiritually prepared to apply the full might of divine power.
There is much to be learned about the impact prayer-based healing can have on humanity. However, from what I have witnessed, spiritual practices are gaining momentum.
I use a microwave daily. I rely on prayer as a first choice for healing. Each has become a natural thing to do.
Keith Wommack is a syndicated columnist, Christian Science practitioner and teacher, husband, and step-dad. He has been described as a spiritual spur (since every horse needs a little nudge now and then). Keith’s columns originate at his website.