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Excerpted from Prayer Is Good Medicine by Larry Dossey. Copyright 1996 by Larry Dossey. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.
 


"Prayerlike thoughts, offered from a distance, have been demonstrated to increase the healing rate of surgical wounds, and religious faith is associated with faster recovery from surgery."

Larry Dossey, Prayer is Good Medicine, Part 3

Certain questions surfaced again and again in these discussions. I know they are on your mind, too, because you sent me hundreds of letters describing your experiences and beliefs about prayer. I discovered that most of you are interested in four general areas--the scientific evidence for prayer, the controversies associated with the prayer experiments, what prayer is, and how to pray. This book is organized around these four categories. The various sections stand on their own and can be read in any order. Be your own guide.

I have written this book as a heart-to-heart talk, not as an academic or scholarly treatise. If you want to look deeper at the scientific issues surrounding prayer, you may consult Healing Words, where you can find descriptions and citations of the experiments themselves.

As you read this book, I hope you will resist the temptation to take an either-or stance toward prayer and modern medicine. As a physician, I have employed medications and surgical procedures because I know they work. But prayer works, too. The way I see it, we do not have to make absolute choices between prayer and high-tech medicine. If you have appendicitis, I believe you should have an appendectomy, because it is the most effective treatment humankind has ever devised for this particular problem. But why not employ prayer in addition to surgery? Prayerlike thoughts, offered from a distance, have been demonstrated to increase the healing rate of surgical wounds, and religious faith is associated with faster recovery from surgery. We ought to follow a common sense approach when we're sick: Use what works. In most medical situations there will be a place for both prayer and modern medicine.

Although science tells us that prayer works, it cannot tell us how it works. Science is limited in studying prayer. Therefore, science can never swallow up prayer, as some people fear. The sacred mysteries will remain.

I have written this book while under the influence--the influence of the prayers of thousands of people who have prayed for me and for my work. From my heart, I am grateful. Will you keep me under the influence?

-Larry Dossey, M.D.

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