No. But….maybe. It depends on who you ask. If you are sick and I say a prayer for you, will you be healed? I don’t think so. But, according to a study by the Pew Forum on Religion, most Mormons, members of historically black churches and Evangelical Protestants assert that they have “experienced or witnessed a divine healing of an illness or injury.” I roll my eyes at these statements.
On Sunday mornings at Old First UCC’s weekly church service, a portion of the service is devoted to prayers of the people. Anyone is welcome to stand in front of the congregation and offer up prayers of thanks and need. Not having a strong personal prayer practice, I often zone out during this time. I read the bulletin, stare out the window or look around the sanctuary to see who is in church. But during service last Sunday I realized something. I do not believe that prayer will directly impact anyone–God will not reach down from the heavens with a lightning bolt and cure your neighbor’s aunt of cancer–but if your aunt knows that people are praying for her, thinking of her, and supporting her, these prayers can strengthen her emotional backbone, her spirit, and her mind for her struggle with cancer.
Does this kind of emotional support need to be prayer? No. It can be a phone call, a letter, an email, or a facebook message: “I’m thinking of you.” Now when people tell me that they’re praying for me, I’ll no longer inwardly cringe but will rather thank them for thinking of me. Because that it was they’re doing.