Editor's note: Katie S. Brown is a Christian Science practitioner and teacher from Fort Wayne, who also serves as the media and legislative spokesperson for Christian Science in Indiana. The Your Neighbor column is written by a member of a local nonprofit group and appears frequently in Neighbors.
Who has not cried out to a higher being for help and healing when severe illness or injury has overwhelmed them with pain? The immediacy of the cry often happens even before calling 911.
No one actually knows how frequently the pain subsides before the paramedics arrive. And people who experience or witness on the spot healings generally don't collect data. More often, they share these experiences by word of mouth, much like those in Jesus' day who shared his healings on the Galilean hillsides.
In an Aug. 29-31, 2011, Fox News Poll conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research and Shaw & Company Research, 77 percent of people interviewed believe prayer can literally help someone heal from an injury or illness ( www.foxnews.com/us/2011/09/07/fox-news-poll-creationism/).
Once, when I fell backward and struck my head hard on the tennis court after hitting a high lob, pain surged. I prayed to God immediately and was able to get up, take a short break and finish the match. I felt no painful effects later from the fall.
Relief from chronic or acute pain is a significant issue in our society today. Many people are concerned about the increased use and abuse of legal pain killers and about their side effects when taken over long periods of time.
Data released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention June 18, 2010, shows that, in 2008, about 1 million people were in emergency rooms for abuse of prescription and over-the country drugs (http://healthland.time.com/2010/06/18/er-visits-surge-for-abuse-of-legal-drugs/).
A study from the University of Florida, “UF study strengthens concerns about long-term use of certain painkillers,” posted on the University of Florida News (http://news.ufl.edu) on July 21, 2011, considers whether certain drugs are “linked to harmful health effects.”
Fortunately, there is also increased interest among physicians to find alternative ways to help people either manage or end chronic pain. Prayer is one of those methods being investigated.
In a USA Today/ABC News/Standford University Medical Center poll, more than half of those who responded used prayer to control pain.
“Of those, 90 percent say it worked well, and 51 percent say ”very well,” reports Anita Manning's May 9, 2005, USA Today.com news-health article, “Prayer effective as a painkiller?” ( www.usatoday.com/news/health/2005-05-09-prayer-pain_x.htm).
People who have adopted a “mindfulness” practice recognize the value to their health of disciplined quiet, contemplative thought. Students of the Bible are no exception.
“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10) has brought calm, pain-free moments to thousands for centuries. Prayerful approaches to healing chronic pain benefit our society because they leave people free of the side effects that can result from drug-based therapies. They also have no element to them that can be “abused.”