Originally posted on July 27, 2009... by Ali, Brayden's mommy and President/Founder of Brayden Alexander Global Foundation for Hydranencephaly, on the Small Portion of a Life's Journey blog:
I am not one to discuss my religious views... always, in fact, been told not to talk about politics or religion unless I want to be embedded in a heated debate. I spent my junior high and high school years in church, but I have only attended a service a few times since moving from my hometown. My beliefs have wavered, and changed throughout the years... Now that I look back, maybe it was for the socialization in the beginning, but either way what better place to be than church? The exposure, if nothing else, stuck with me...
Since then, I've come to realize that I cannot label myself as any specific organized religion in particular, since I have beliefs stemming from more than just one... I just consider myself to be very spiritual, I guess you can say. I believe in love and happiness and treating everyone with the utmost respect to share in the happiness, maybe I'm just a hippy ha~ha!
Regardless of my personal opinions of organized religion, my defining religion leaning most towards Buddhism, my strongest belief has been in the power of prayer. Some say it's under my dire circumstances that I suddenly believe in this invisible power, maybe... but it's been proven to heal and fulfill so many times, so why not stick with it?
I've recently stumbled upon countless articles speculating the relationship of prayer with healing... even scientific evidence of what miracles prayer can achieve in different circumstances. Here's the most recent that I've read, which is published in a publication I received from the Unity ministry, and the one that sums up my idea in the greatest way without me rambling on and on:
What do we do when we or someone we love comes up against a serious health challenge? We may feel overwhelmed and without resources to help us. We don't know where to turn. What I do, and what I encourage other people to do, is pray.
Praying for Others
Let Go, Let God
That's right... it's scientifically proven that prayer can heal. In another article, most recently read, here's the more scientific reasoning to how this can be...from Science Daily (a website I occasionally follow to stay up-to-date in medical research)
The Healing Power Of Prayer?
ScienceDaily (June 18, 2009) — Health and religion have always been intertwined, most obviously through prayer on behalf of the sick. Does intercessory prayer for sick people actually help heal them? For thousands of years some people have believed so. But new Brandeis University research in the Journal of Religion this month shows that over the last four decades, medical studies of intercessory prayer—the prayer of strangers at a distance—actually say more about the scientists conducting the studies than about the power of prayer to heal.
Intercessory prayer has been the subject of scientific study since at least the nineteenth century, when an English scientist, assuming that kings were prayed for more often than others, sought to find out whether those prayers were answered. He concluded that they were not, but that prayer might be a comfort to the people praying anyway.
After talking with physicians who wondered about the power of prayer to heal patients, Brandeis sociologist Wendy Cadge, an expert on the intersection of religion and medicine in contemporary American society, set out to research medical studies of intercessory prayer going back to 1965, the first year such studies were published in the English language medical literature.
"This analysis in the Journal of Religion is the first to trace the social history of intercessory prayer studies and to situate them in their medical and religious contexts," said Cadge, who this year is the Suzanne Young Murray Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. While there she is working on her forthcoming book, Paging God: Religion in the Halls of Medicine.
Cadge evaluated eighteen published studies on intercessory prayer that were conducted between 1965 and 2006. Collectively, the studies provide a fascinating snapshot of changing American religious demographics, evolving ideas about the relationship between religion and medical science, and the development of the clinical trial as the gold standard of biomedical research, said Cadge.
"I do not know why physicians and scientists conducted these studies," said Cadge, "but personal religious beliefs appear to have played a role, along with curiosity.
"The earliest studies undertaken in the sixties were based exclusively on Protestant prayers, while more recent studies, reflecting growing social awareness of other religions, combine Christian, Jewish, Buddhist and other prayers, Cadge discovered. Some studies suggested that prayer worked, while others said it didn't.
The researchers leading the studies applied clinical scientific methodologies to the study of intercessory prayer, but Cadge found that even that approach was fraught with problems. For example, researchers asked whether the people not being prayed for by the intercessors were truly a control group, since their family members were probably praying for them. Researchers also asked what the right "dosage" of prayer would be, how prayers should be offered, and what to do about non-Christian intercessors.
"With double blind clinical trials, scientists tried their best to study something that may be beyond their best tools," said Cadge, "and reflects more about them and their assumptions than about whether prayer 'works.'
Regardless of the "proof" or lack thereof...my prayers will continue to go up for my loved ones and I'll remember that someone else is in control of our destiny, someone besides a worldly being. And I truly believe that prayers have been answered and my son, along with many other children and adults living and defying the odds, is living proof of that! Brayden, along with his many friends living with hydranencephaly, has defied all odds against him... every day is no less than another miracle, he is living and breathing with a condition "not compatible with life" and thriving with it. All simply because of the mounds of people praying for him, from near and afar...the people who will not accept that there is nothing left to do... the people who believe in the impossible.