Healing Power of Faith

by Harold Koenig, M.D.

Healing can include dramatic, sudden physical cures, but is not confined to the 'miraculous' or the spectacular. Perhaps for most people, the healing power of faith involves a healing of the mind and emotions, the intangible spirit, and of relationships with others. 

Faith can put physical illness beneath us, where it belongs, return dominion to us, and give us power to live victorious and fulfilling lives.

People who regularly attend church service, pray individually, and read the Bible are 40% less likely to have diastolic hypertension than those who seldom participate in these religious activities.

People who attend religious services regularly may have stronger immune systems than their less religious counterparts. Those who never or rarely attend church or synagogue tend to have the highest levels of Interleukin-6, perhaps indicating a weakened or overactive immune system.

People who attend church regularly are hospitalized less often and leave the hospital sooner than people who never or rarely participate in religious services. The deeper a person's religious faith, the less likely he or she is to be crippled by depression during and after hospitalization for physical illness.

Religious people have healthier lifestyles. According to one study, people who attend church at least weekly have about 1/3 the rate of alcohol abuse and are about 1/3 as likely to smoke those who seldom participate in congregational worship.

Religious youth show significantly lower levels of drug and alcohol abuse, premature sexual involvement, and criminal delinquency than their non-religious peers. They are also less likely to express suicidal thoughts or make actual attempts on their lives

Elderly people with a deep, personal religious faith have a stronger sense of well-being and life satisfaction than their less religious peers.

Religious people live longer and physically healthier lives than their non religious counterparts.


This article was excerpted with permission from THE HEALING POWER OF FAITH: Science Explores Medicine's Last Great Frontier By Harold Koenig, M.D. Published by Simon & Schuster.
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About The Author

HAROLD KOENIG, M.D., is Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Duke University Medical Center. He is also Director of Duke University's Center for the Study of Religion/Spirituality and Health. Widely acclaimed and respected in both medical and religious communities, Dr. Koenig has written numerous articles and appeared as a guest expert on ABC World News Tonight, NBC Evening News, CBS This Morning, and many other national and international programs. He lives in Durham, North Carolina.