Call it prayer, call it divine intervention, call it evangelism; but over the ages, faith healing is seen to produce ‘miracles’ that seem to come about only because of the faith that a person has. Though the connection of faith healing to Christianity is strongest, other cultures around the world also have their own versions of faith healing.
Reports of faith healing or spiritual healing reversing blindness, curing cancer, helping overcome paralysis, deafness, developmental disorders, speech defects, rashes and even AIDS are not unheard of. Even those who do not believe in divinity as an external force; those who advocate Spiritual rather than faith healing claim to obtain such remarkable health benefits.
Faith healing can take on an evangelical setting where the healer places his or her hands on the sufferer and seems to miraculously cure that person.
Or faith healing could result from a visit to a shrine. Faith healing can also be from a distance, by the power of prayer.
For a long time now, the relationship between religion and health has fascinated researchers such as sociologists and others. Many medical and scientific bodies have denounced faith healing as being ineffectual in curing any physical ailments and yet there are many claims of faith healing working where medicine has failed to do so.
Skeptics claim that so called cures affected by faith healing may perhaps have occurred any way because spontaneous resolution of medical conditions does occur.
For instance the American Cancer Society claims that miraculous cancer cures at shrines such as Lourdes in France, are about the same in proportion as cases of spontaneous remissions.
The charge against faith healing is that it may prevent a person from seeking and getting the kind of treatment that they need and which could perhaps save lives. There is also the charge that if faith healing doesn’t work for someone, they may feel even worse.
However even the Cancer Society accepts the benefits of faith healing, such as:
- The person’s belief in the treatment can be such that the person not only perceives but actually experiences an improvement. Though the credit may go to the healer, it may be a placebo effect.
- It can evoke the power of suggestion, so that if it is suggested to a person that they can be healed, they can in fact heal themselves.
- Peace of mind can be promoted with the help of faith healing.
- It can be a coping mechanism for people to deal better with their illness.