Ella Newmiller is a five-year-old little girl who is terminally ill.
She was diagnosed not too long ago with an inoperable brain tumor, with a prognosis - according to The Cure Starts Now, a group formed to search for a cure for brainstem tumors - of eighteen months at most. Ella’s story has made it around the world, and many spiritual communities have come together to pray for her healing.
As I was relating this story to a friend, today, another common friend stepped up and asked if I think that prayer truly heals people.
Personally, I wholeheartedly believe it does, but I had to come up with a few reasons that would satisfy the left brain of my not-too-spiritual friend.
Research has shown that quiet meditation and prayers, or the comfort of being prayed for, appear to lower blood pressure, reduce stress hormones, slow the heart rate and have other potentially beneficial effects. Many studies done over the years indicate that believers tend to be healthier than non-believers.
These findings still do not explain the benefits of people praying for others, although one experiment conducted in 1988 by San Francisco cardiologist Randolph Byrd showed that the 192 people targeted for prayer by a group of born-again Christians needed fewer drugs and less help breathing than the 201 cardiac patients who had not received prayers.
None of the subjects were told that they were being prayed for.
Einstein himself wrote about interactions between particles at a distance, and quantum physics – although still in infancy – show that distant particles can affect each other's behavior in mysterious ways.
Skeptics will undoubtedly look for reasons why any of these experiments might be considered bias, but at some point we have to realize that we don’t always need science to quantify the benefits of something that has proven itself through the ages.
There are things that science cannot prove or disprove, and it is up to the faithful to draw personal conclusions.
Meanwhile, prayer is a free gift, and one offered from the heart; it might help or it might not, but it will certainly not hurt. The vibrations emanated through prayer are impregnated with love and caring for one another, and create a ripple effect that travels past the boundaries of space, time and form.
Spiritually speaking, there are reasons why prayers don’t work sometimes, as what we ask for may simply interfere with an individual’s soul contract, but attempting to explain the mechanics of such a deep concept will only confuse rather than clarify, and is not necessary at the moment.
All we need to know is that by praying we connect to the divine part of ourselves, and open the doors to the wider horizons that extend beyond the scope of scientific limitation.
We don’t have to be religious to pray; even atheists make a wish when they blow out their birthday candles.
That’s what prayer essentially is, a wish. Whether we send our wish to God, Goddess, or merely to the good person who lives inside our mind, what truly matters is that we are thinking loving thoughts and wishing somebody well.
And as for my ten cents, I wish Ella a lifetime of good health and happiness. May she and her family find the healing they need, and may she grow into a beautiful and graceful young lady who, someday, will pray for another soul in need.