When Americans are sick, they don't just turn to doctors and drugs for help: A new study found that 9 out of 10 have turned to prayer at some point in their lives. What's more, many of them also practiced laying on of hands.
"The most surprising finding is that more than a quarter of all Americans have practiced laying on of hands — and nearly one in five has done so on multiple occasions," said Jeff Levin, Ph.D., at Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion.
"Outside of belief in God, there may be no more ubiquitous religious expression in the U.S. than use of healing prayer," Levin said.
Levin's study also suggested that prayer may be one of the most widely used form of treatments for medical problems rather than being a "fringe activity."
Levin found that 75 percent of Americans have prayed for their own healing, and nearly a third do so often. Nearly 90 percent have prayed for the healing of others, and more than half report doing so often. More than half of Americans have asked for healing prayer and have taken part in prayer groups.
Statistical analysis of the survey of 1,714 U.S. adults showed that:
• 78.8 percent of participants have prayed for healing for themselves at some point in their lives, and 32.4 percent do so often
• 87.4 percent have prayed for healing for others, and 51.1 percent do so often
• 54.1 percent have asked for prayers for their health
• 26.1 percent have given a "laying on of hands" for healing
• 53 percent have participated in a prayer group, prayer circle or prayer chain
The best predictor of whether a person practiced healing prayer was not how often they attended church or read scripture, but their relationship with God.
"People who feel a close connection to God, who love God and feel loved by God, are the very people most likely to pray for healing: for themselves or others, alone or in a group, and verbally or through laying on of hands," Levin said.
"These people are taking to heart the biblical call to 'love your neighbor as yourself,' something found in both the Old and New Testaments."
Does prayer really work? Levin says his study can't prove it one way or the other.
Dr. Chauncey Crandall, a nationally recognized cardiologist, has no doubt that prayer can heal and prays for his patients. "We've seen miraculous healings in the office, cancers disappear and almost any disease you can think of, we've prayed for and have seen the power of God and miracles happen," he told CBN.
Dr. Harold G. Koenig of Duke University also believes prayer works. "Studies have shown prayer can prevent people from getting sick — and when they do get sick, prayer can help them get better faster," he told Newsmax Health.
The new study was published in the Journal of Religion and Health.
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