I’m in the middle of a nine day Novena to St. Jude and God keeps revealing new people for me to pray for. My list is up to six.
My best friend’s Dad is in cancer remission, but got some worrying news. A co-worker is going through a painful divorce. And, a friend’s husband is fighting in Afghanistan.
Now, I’m almost embarrassed to say it, but when I started the Novena it was for me. Really though, by focusing on prayers for other people, I’ve become even more committed and the experience is more meaningful. I don’t just say three Our Father’s, three Hail Mary’s and three Glory Be’s anymore, I say the whole rosary.
We’ve all heard of the power of prayer. Some people believe it, some don’t, some believe some of it.
There is a growing body of research on the connection between spirituality and health.
The results of one of the first studies came out in 1988. It was conducted at San Francisco General Hospital. Some of the outcomes included:
- Decreases in cardiopulmonary arrests
- 5 times less likely to need antibiotics
- Lower rates of mortality
Since then, there have been many more studies, including one in 2006 involving 1800 patients having heart bypass surgery. It showed no difference in recovery or complications between the prayed for group and the ones who weren’t prayed for. In fact, 59% of the patients being prayed for suffered complications.
There have been smaller studies done with cancer patients who use prayer as part of their recovery. The National Cancer Institute reports that there are benefits of religion and spirituality to a person’s well being. In these studies, cancer patients had:
- Lower levels of discomfort
- Reduced anxiety
- Less Distress
- Reduced Hostility
- Better quality of life
Most days here at Miles Perret Cancer Services, I hear atleast one cancer patient say "Thank God” for something. For some, it is as simple as being able to get out bed and join us for an art class. For others, it comes from knowing that they don’t have to pay for the nutritional supplements that keep them alive during treatment. When someone leaves MPCS, we want them to leave with hope, however that may come.
The National Cancer Institute reports that in a large survey of cancer outpatients, between 20% and 35% expressed a desire for religious and spiritual resources. They wanted:
- help talking about finding meaning in life
- help finding hope
- help finding peace of mind
I read something that really resonated with me recently. Instead of seeing it as a bad thing or less than whole when someone turns to God during difficult times, why not just believe that strengthening your relationship with God --- anytime ---- is a good thing.
Today is the National Day of Prayer and the last day of my Novena. Since I don’t believe in coincidences, I’ll take it as a sign to keep praying.