Science is Proving the Effectiveness of Prayer

TENRIKYO PEARL CHURCH SERMON ‘ 2005 June

Good morning! I would like to thank you all for your kind support and sincere offerings. I am sure that God the Parent and Oyasama is pleased to see you today to participate in this June Monthly Service 2005. Next Sunday is Father’s Day so I would like to wish a Happy Father’s Day to all fathers.


Science is Proving the Effectiveness of Prayer

There is a revolution starting to break out among those in the medical field. In the Michino tomo, a Tenrikyo publication, February 2005 issue, doctor Murakami Kazuo, a scientist and a devout Tenrikyo member wrote: ‘One factor in this revolution is that the effectiveness of western medicine is less than 50% and the influence of eastern medicine such as traditional Chinese medicine such as acupuncture and moxibustion (burning herbs), meditation, music therapy, and faith is increasing. The U.S. government encourages the research and study of alternative medicine and has allocated a budget of $200 million for a three-year study from 2004.’

Until the 20th century, western medicine has made great progress and gave marvelous results in treatment. However, there is an urgent need for Eastern medicine. One of out 25 in-patients died from illness which was unrelated to the illness they came to be treated for. This is because the patients’ mental state affects their physical condition. Their negative stresses such as anxiety and worry weakens their immune system. It is in this flow of events, Dr. Murakami says, that the effectiveness of prayer is studied. The authorities at Harvard and Columbia Universities are competing to embark on the study and research on prayer and initiating contacts with faith-based organizations. This is a new field at the forefront of science and technology.

Those of us who have faith in God and believers of the Tenrikyo faith, I would think should be administering more and more prayers. We should have more religious people in the hospital to give prayers to the patients. However, there is controversy especially from skeptics and critics regarding this form of ‘treatment.’ They say that it just a waste of taxpayers’ money to put into research and simply nonsense. The religious groups say that we shouldn’t doubt and test God’s power. Originally in the east and west in all ages and civilizations, when someone in the family got terribly sick, the whole family got involved by praying for that person’s recovery. However, when progress advanced in medicine people began to forget about prayers. Many doctors do not believe in the effectiveness of prayers. Some think that as long as the patient is comfortable with prayers it is ‘ok’ and it probably aids in and supports their emotional stability. In a sense they think that this is a form of placebo treatment that eases and comforts one’s emotional state.

Placebo is a fake medicine. In other words, it’s like a doctor administering sugar candy as the most effective medicine for a particular condition. Study shows that one out of three persons has a positive effective through placebo treatment. What is happening in their brain when people take the placebo? Because the doctor said that this is an effective medication and because the patient believes the doctor and because the patient has developed a high expectation, the brain produces endorphins which aids in the healing process. This results in reduced pain, activates the immune system and patients feel more relaxed. The patient then feels that the medication works.

It’s amazing how our use of mind affects our bodies. However, this is nothing new. In the olden days they use to say that illness comes from our mind.

In another experiment the patients had no knowledge that they were being prayed for, but still they experienced a positive effect. This is what a recent study by Dr. Randolph Byrd of San Francisco General Hospital showed. Dr. Byrd is a cardiologist. In this study involving 393 patients in the ICU (intensive care unit) with heart conditions, some of them were prayed for by a Christian group and some were not. The results showed that those who were prayed for needed less use of the respirator, dialysis treatment, and less doses of antibiotics. Moreover, these patients did not know that someone was praying for them. So we can say that prayer is not a placebo.

Through his research, Dr. Murakami found the obvious fact of the effectiveness of prayer. However he cannot say why or how the prayer works. We believe in God the Parent, we pray for those people who are suffering from illness and problems and we pray for their recovery. The effectiveness is proven by science.



In the Ofudesaki Part VIII: 4

To Tsukihi, all of you throughout the world are my children,

My only desire is to save you.



Part VII: 83

Any salvation whatever, is all through the Service.

If only you do just as Tsukihi says.



Part III: 98

If only the dust are cleanly swept away,

then I shall work marvelous salvation.



Through the service we purify our mind and through Sazuke, we want people to be cured. And I believe in God’s great working.

Thank you for your kind attention.

Announcements:

1. Everyone please welcome Kentaro Inoue, who will be staying at Pearl Church for about one year to do missionary work.

2. I would like to thank those who participated in the BGA Hinokishin Day on May 28th at Stadium. Thank you very much. The next Hinokishin will be on Saturday, June 26 after the Yohaishiki Service at Dendocho. We plan to clean the Nuuanu Park across from Dendocho.

3. We are in the last year before the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama and I would like to ask all of you to participate by returning to Jiba in 2006. We hope to form a pilgrimage group for the children’s summer pilgrimage and hope that many of you can join us. However, you can return anytime during the year and I or Mrs. Nakao will accompany you. We are continuing our Jiba Pilgrimage fundraising by offering yard services, so if you know of anyone who needs yard cleaning, please let us know.

4. This year’s Hawaii Shuyokai (Spiritual Development Course) will start this Sunday on June 19th, right after Dendocho’s month service and end on Saturday, July 16th. Please encourage anyone who is searching for answers about their life situation or to learn more about Tenrikyo and the way to the Joyous Life, to please attend this course.

5. The 2005 Children’s Pilgrimage will depart from July 19 and return on July 30. I will be going as chairman of the Hawaii Boy’s and Girl’s Association and I encourage you to recommend this very worthwhile activity to friends and family for their children to attend.

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