Power of Faith
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
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
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
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.
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.