Torch, Spring-Summer 1999

n recent years a number of U.S. health care providers have begun to examine the beneficial effects of religion fo r physically and mentally ill patients. Their studies tend to indicate that an individual's religious beliefs can positively affect physical healing or decrease depression in ways that transcend standard medical practices. Some of the specific health benefits which have been associated with individuals who regularly attend worship services, study the Bible, and pray include lower blood pressure, higher levels of immune system proteins, fewer complications in illnesses, and improved mental health. 1 As more studies are performed, many physicians are beginning to acknowledge that prayer and faith can indeed be significant factors in a patient's recovery process. At least five major medical schools have even gone as far as to include courses in spirituality and healing in their programs.2