We all live by faith. Some skeptic might respond, “Not me.” Oh, yes, you do. Every time you fly on a plane, drive in the rain, go on a date or get married, buy or sell on credit or drive a car you are exercising faith. There is no way to prove in advance the brakes on a car will work the next time applied. By faith we hope they will.

You go to a doctor you don’t know, he gives you a prescription you can’t read, you go to a pharmacist whose name you can’t pronounce, and are given a pill you know little about, and you have enough faith to take it. You have faith.

The desire to live is a God given instinct. Therefore, when life is threatened we reflectively fight back. It is a good preservative of life. There are few greater times in life that we draw on our faith to feed the desire to live. Faith! Does it work in healing?

With heaven as the ultimate backdrop, consider some of the blessed benefits that begin here and now.

One process for developing us is through suffering. This is God being honest with us. As a Christian or non-Christian, you are going to suffer. If God were to immune believers from problems and exempt them from difficulty, people would turn to Him in faith to gain such. He doesn't, but He does equip us to deal with it and uses it to your advantage.

In physiology there is a principle called "Fox's Law." In essence, it means exercise and pressure builds mass. Hard physical work or workouts build muscle and bone mass. The principal is basically the same spiritually. The exercise of our faith builds us up.

Recently health care professionals met at Harvard Medical School for a course called “Spirituality and Healing in Medicine.” Their study centered around two groups in research regarding the faith-health connection. Ninety-nine percent of the doctors believe there is an important relationship between the spirit and the flesh.

The prayers of others, proxy prayer that is, for the sick was the subject of one study. Nearly 400 people participated in a California study regarding the effects of the prayers of others for heart patients. Half of the 400 were prayed for by others and half were not. Neither group knew they were being prayed for. Those who were prayed for had half as many complications and a much lower rate of congestive heart failure.

Personal faith was the object of another study by Dartmouth Medical School. They tracked how patients’ personal prayer life influenced their recovery from bypass surgery. After six months a restudy was done. Among those who didn’t pray the death rate was 9%. Among those who did pray the rate dropped to 5%. None of those who had a deeply spiritual life died.

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center studied 1700 older Americans and discovered that those who regularly attended religious services had stronger immune responses than those who did not. Blood tests showed those who regularly attended had a higher level of immunity against disease. Thus faith is indicated to be good for one spiritually and physically.

Whether suffering or in health, faith helps us interpret life and live it to the fullest.

During my five weeks in the hospital one doctor said he went home three nights saying, “He will see Jesus tonight.” I am confident the prayers of faith by many are a primary reason I am here.

The Rev. Dr. Nelson L. Price is pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta.

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