When there seems to be nowhere else to turn in the midst of a difficult diagnosis, many people turn to prayer and spiritual practices for strength.
The idea that having faith in a higher power to heal one’s body is known as faith healing.
What Is Faith Healing?
Faith healing is described as healing produced through spiritual means. These could be anything from prayer and meditation to rituals designed to stimulate a divine power that will grant the healing of both disability and disease. Faith healing is most closely related to religious belief in divine intervention.
Many practices and ritualistic activities are performed in the hopes that the person or persons in need of healing will find rest, relaxation, and renewed health despite medical diagnoses or other negative news concerning their disease. Faith healing is a very old practice with accounts both supporting and denying it found all throughout history.
Reports of miraculous recoveries, sudden healings, and unconventional but effective treatments are included in the umbrella term of “faith healing”. Faith healing mainly hinges upon a strong belief in an all-powerful divinity and is most commonly linked to Christianity.
In its purest sense faith healing is the belief that prayer alone can heal disease. In some religious beliefs medical attention is never allowed and one becomes sick only prayer is to be used, no matter the outcome. The belief is that it’s all god’s will.
There have been numerous successful criminal prosecutions the United States of parents who did not seek medical attention for their children who died as a result of a perfectly treatable condition because they believed in faith healing.
How Does It Work?
Faith healing involves a number of different practices. There is a theory that in the New Testament of the Bible, there is a belief in and practice of faith healing. Visiting a religious shrine, praying, laying hands on those who are ill, or participating in organized prayer circles are all forms of faith healing practices.
It is also believed that these spiritual practices will initiate divine intervention from the Holy Spirit and bring about both spiritual and actual healing of the body.
No matter which methods are used, the bottom line is always the same, no medical intervention is allowed and that “god’s will” will determine the outcome for the sick person.
There has never been any empirical scientific proof that faith healing in any way cures or treats any ailments, terminal or otherwise. Most scientists and medical doctors cringe at the idea that those who could have easily been treated and saved die from something completely preventable.
Faith Healing and Evangelism
Throughout modern history there have been many evangelical preachers, reverends, and pastors who participate in faith healing rituals and gatherings. These “healers” claim to have been given the power to heal and proclaim to be able to relieve people of all sorts of ailments, including, blindness and paralysis
There have been large congregations gathering to proclaim their ailments in hopes that the ministerial healer will lay hands on them or appeal to the Holy Spirit through prayer for healing and restored wellness.
And there are many who believe.
Faith Healing Versus Healing With Prayer
There is an inherent difference between faith healing and healing with prayer. In these cases prayer is used as part of a support system for those who are struggling with some type of ailment or a terminal illness. In this case prayer is used alongside with medical care.
This is much different from “faith healing” where no other treatments are sought or employed and sometimes are not even allowed.
As previously mentioned several prosecutions have taken place against parents whose religious beliefs prevented them from seeking medical care for their child who died of preventable causes. And, these parents are typically convicted.
In fact, in one case a couple had two children die as a result of faith healing. This occurred in Philadelphia where Herbert and Catherine Schaible, who have seven children had been convicted of child endangerment and involuntary manslaughter in the death of their 2-year-old son who died in 2009 of pneumonia that could have been prevented with even over the counter medication, as doctors for the prosecution testified. They were sentenced to probation and ordered to provide medical care for all their children at all times.
When a second child died in 2010 with similar symptoms they were charged once again, and this time an outraged judge sentenced the couple to 3 1/2 to 7 years in prison for the death of their 8-month-old son.
Their pastor, Nelson Clark, stated that their children’s death was a result of “spiritual lack” in their lives and insisted they would not seek medical care for any of their other seven children that might become ill as per the beliefs of their Pentecostal church.
Experts say about 12 children die each year in the United States as a result of the faith healing beliefs of their parents.
The everlasting question is while freedom of religion is certainly one’s right, is it right to impose that on a child that is too young to make decisions of their own.
Food for thought.