Sunday, February 28, 2010

Healing? Prayer? Real?

If I had another life to live, I might try to master mathematics so that I could study string and super-string physics. Reading around the edges of texts from these disciplines--as if reading a foreign language--I catch glimpses of tantalizing theories. Most fascinating of these are suggestions of interface between psycho-spiritual and space/time realities. I don't even know how to describe these adequately.

This week I thought about spiritual healing and the unexplained sense of a need to pray for someone, and how these things can happen over great physical distance. For instance: Have you ever heard of the parent who wakes in the night and just knows she needs to pray for her child--only to discover later that this was the exact moment of a crisis in the child's life? Have you ever been telephoned by a friend or relative, and before the phone rang, you picked it up to call them (and there was no obvious reason for the desire to call?) Have you known of someone that has been prayed for and then healed of a disease from which they should not have recovered? My answer to all of these questions is--"Yes."

How do these things happen?

Funny, it is not hard for me to believe that I can punch some buttons on my cell phone and speak with someone on the other side of the world. I can't explain how. I believe I can tune a radio in my car and listen to any sort of music or talk from distant cities. There are messages surrounding and saturating each of us as we look at this screen, and given the right tool, we can "tune" into them.

So why is it difficult to believe that I can pray (or care about or wish) for your well-being across miles or continental borders, and for you to be impacted physically? Can we truly "reach out and touch?"

Since I was a child, I've been taught to pray. I've been taught that I can speak to God and benefit another person or situation on the other side of the planet (i.e. praying for missionaries). But this feels somehow like a real stretch. I mean, effecting you from thousands of miles away is impossible, right? Why? Why can my phone vibrate in my pocket as a result of you calling me from far away, and I consider it commonplace? Why can I send this message into the wireless atmosphere of my living room, and feel it makes sense? How do I believe the television picture in front of me is simplistic--after it has been yanked from a satellite by a tiny dish on my roof?

Sometimes I think too much. But equally true is that sometimes I think we have very little faith in all things spiritual.

If you are interested in some research about the effect of prayer and well-wishing upon those in a distant place, check out the work of Elizabeth Targ. She is a bit controversial, and certainly doesn't intend to prove anything Christian. However, she has done some research that is tantalizing. I'll post a few of them for you.

http://www.uic.edu/classes/psych/psych242f/psch242spring2003/targ.htm

http://www.esalenctr.org/display/confpage.cfm?confid=8&pageid=74&pgtype=1

http://www.noetic.org/research/dh/research/DistantIntentionality.pdf

No time to edit here, so hope there aren't too many uglies in my typing.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Humm, been thinking about that for a few months myself David. Raised the same way, but hadn't looked at it that way. Thanks!