Prayer and Health

October 22, 1995
Brother John Raymond

	Health has become a major issue both in the magazines and on
 television. People are becoming more health conscious. There is even
 talk of techniques to look and feel younger. All this is good. But
 an essential ingredient to good health has not gotten much
 publicity__God. In an article I read recently it said that belief in
 God was linked, with ever growing evidence, to better physical
 health. Imagine that, God is good for our health! Of course, belief
 in God, our relationship with God and prayer are all intimately
	So it is not surprising that in twenty-two studies it was
 discovered that people who attend church frequently had lower rates
 of many illnesses, including heart disease (not as many bad hearts)
 and cancer. The article goes on to say that "scientists aren't sure
 why." I'm sure why. God is essential both to our spiritual and
 bodily well-being. That's the way He made us. We are not made up of
 a body and soul that do not interact. We know personally, and
 doctors are finding out with ever increasing evidence, that there is
 an intimate connection between the two. Doctor Jeffrey S. Levin, at
 Eastern Virginia Medical School in Virginia, tells us, "The evidence
 strongly suggests faith in God truly is linked to a long, healthy
 life." I commented in a past article how my neurological doctor
 friend could tell by brain wave patterns people who pray from those
 who don't. Our spiritual life affects our body and vice versa.
	At times we take God's commands, as mediated by the Church to us,
 as an obligation to be fulfilled. We go to Holy Mass on Sunday
 because "we have to." Certain people reluctantly obey the Church's
 moral guidelines. But if we only knew the truth of the matter. A
 biblical professor I had once explained God's commandments something
 like this. What if someone told you to take the expressway I-275
 instead of I-75 because of a traffic jam on the former. Wouldn't we
 be happy to have this information so that we could get home quicker
 and avoiding frustration? It would be to our benefit to take this
 advice. So it is the same with God's commandments__our Creator is
 telling us what's good for us out of love for us.
	This leads me to another part of the article referred to already.
 It shouldn't be surprising to learn that there are healthy rewards
 in helping others. A survey of 3300 volunteers found that they all
 enjoyed consolation in volunteering and felt better than others in
 their age bracket, who didn't volunteer. Also, volunteers talked
 about having less stress, even obtaining pain relief through their
 charitable works, relief from backaches, headaches, arthritis,
 asthma and ulcers. One woman with multiple sclerosis has virtually
 arrested the disease for nineteen years. She claims it is from the
 "emotional and physical rush" that she experiences in doing
 charitable works.
	So what can we conclude from all this? Well, I think we have to
 say that having a healthy relationship with God is good for our
 health. Keeping God's commandments, attending Holy Mass, praying,
 etc. should be part of any daily health program. This even includes
 mental health. I have heard it said that when Catholics were more
 regular in the Sacrament of Confession they were, by percentage, the
 lowest group to be found in mental institutions. Now Catholics are
 right up there with the rest__what does that tell you?
	So let me give you Brother John's all around body-soul health
 program: 1) Exercise regularly and eat good food because God gave
 you a body to take care of for His glory. Poor fitness can lead to
 poor prayer and a flabby spirituality. 2) Love God through an ever
 growing intimate relationship with Him through prayer, the
 Sacraments, Holy Mass, etc. 3) Love your neighbor as Jesus loved
 you. Do these things and you will be fit on earth as well as fit in