LOS ALTOS, CA, June 4, 2012 – Shortly after Gloria Giffords learned about the attempted assassination of her daughter, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, one of the first things that came to her thought was a short verse from the Book of Psalms: “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Apparently, this is just what she needed to hear.
“This thing came over me, like a wash of warmth, like a blanket, and I wasn’t afraid,” she said in an interview with the Arizona Star ten months after the January 8, 2011 shooting. “I thought, wherever she is, she’s intact, she’s perfect, she’s whole, and whether on this plane of reality or somewhere else, she’s God’s perfect child.”
Despite the dire circumstances, Gloria soon became known to her friends and family, including Gabby’s husband and NASA astronaut, Mark Kelly, as “a raging optimist” whose unshakable faith played a key role in her daughter’s remarkable recovery.
Fast forward to May 4 of this year.
As Andy and Donna Copeland sat in a hospital waiting room mourning the news that their daughter, Aimee, might die from the bacteria that entered her bloodstream following an injury she received in a zip-lining accident, a chaplain suggested they pray. Not only did this prayer – and many subsequent prayers – give the Copeland’s a great deal of comfort, they credit it for the amazing turnaround in Aimee’s condition. Although she’s still in intensive care, her prognosis is good.
More than just a feel-good story – the kind we’re used to hearing at the tail end of the local TV news – the Copeland’s account of hope and healing made it all the way to CNN.com. This is not unusual, as more and more these days mainstream media is putting a spotlight on the health benefits of prayer.
According to Dr. Harold Koening, Director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology, and Health, of the more than 2000 studies conducted over the last 10 years in this area, the clear majority point to a positive relationship between the spiritually uplifted mind and body. Although the research is relatively new, the link between prayer and health can be traced all the way back to the Bible.
While most of these studies address the palliative influence of spirituality, there are a growing number of people who have experienced its curative aspects first-hand. In fact, a 2008 study conducted by the Pew Forum found that 36% of those surveyed “experienced or witnessed a divine healing of an illness or injury.”
I include myself in this group. Although I’ve never been in a situation as serious as that of Gabby Giffords or Aimee Copeland, there have been a number of occasions when I’ve seen the immediate effects of prayer, including a rather quick healing of injuries suffered after being hit by a car while riding my bike. And even though my story never made it on CNN – or any other news outlet for that matter – it still made quite an impression on me; so much so that I’ve been in the habit of praying ever since.
Something tells me this is the case for the Giffords and Copeland families as well.
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