Better Than Medicine
By: Jim O'Brien
On the rare occasions that the television is on in our house I am amazed at the frequent advertisements for prescription drugs. It's the disclosure of side effects following the sales pitch that is staggering. Can a disease be worse than the side effects of taking the drug? And if the drug company is telling this much in an advertisement, what are they NOT saying?
If you learned of ONE thing that is proven to improve health more than ANY other single factor, would you buy it?
Truth is, there is such a thing and it is free! Guess what it is-it is the practice of religious faith. Here are a few reasons.
In a few words, spiritual practices have been demonstrated to reduce blood pressure, strengthen the immune system, curb mental illness and stave off dementia. In fact, NOT practicing the Christian faith is about as unhealthy as 40 years of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
Most people recognize that a network of friends is good for you. In his book "Medicine, Religion, and Health" author Harold Koenig, the Director of the Center for Spirituality at Duke University, writes that "Church membership was the only type of social involvement that predicted greater life satisfaction and happiness."
A study in Iowa found that older adults who frequently attend church were 68 percent less likely to die over a 12 year period. This web of Christian friends sustains health.
Most everyone knows that stress is bad for health. Studies have shown that religion reduces stress in lots of ways. Prayer can reduce high blood pressure and enhance the ability of the body to relax.
Faith gives a sense of meaning and purpose to life, which in turn improves a person's health. Religious people are less prone to depression than others and religious people who face depressing circumstances are more likely to overcome.
Emulating Christian virtues causes a person to change. The individual who overcomes a dependence on alcohol, for example, will have a better relationship with his wife and remove the destructive element from the family environment.
None of this has touched on the greatest source of healing. In over 40 years in the ministry I've seen more people miraculously healed through prayer than by any other means. More than three quarters of Americans believe that prayer can heal people. In a survey, the same number of doctors said that they believe in miraculous healings. In China, 80 to 90 percent of converts claim to have converted due to divine healing.
Space and time won't permit a longer discussion of the effect on health of practicing religious beliefs. Suffice it to say that the same authority of God that created the earth and gave life to man also stretches to heal men who call on His name.
There won't be any advertisements during halftime of the next Super Bowl that will encourage you to forego the second half and pray if you really want to be healthy. No one can profit from it. But I've never known one person that said, "The prayer I offered to God caused cancer." And the FDA does not require a warning label on the Bible stating it may be bad for your health.
But, I better stop before I put ideas in the head of a bureaucrat.
Until next time,
Pastor, Church of God Cincinnati
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