Healing prayer narratives: Do doctors, prayers and miracles mix?

On Wednesday evenings, Christian Science churches around the world host meetings which include spontaneously shared “experiences, testimonies, and remarks on Christian Science” for anyone curious to hear these accounts.

Such experiences and testimonies of the practicality of the power of God’s love can range from the modest to the marvellous.

This blog’s weekly Wednesday focus is on what I have been calling “healing prayer narratives”, and this week I want to gratefully focus on a (still progressing) recovery that is anything but a straightforward case of a healing through prayer.  It is, though, a heartwarming story – the accelerated progress of Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford, victim of a gunman’s attack which tragically cost 6 people their lives.

While doctors have dedicated considerable practical experience and skills towards securing the recovery of Tucson Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford people in the United States – 80% of them, according to surveys – say they have been praying for the Jewish Congresswoman’s recovery.  (Some of us here in the United Kingdom, who are concerned onlookers, have been praying right along!)

One reason I want to celebrate this situation is that in the UK discussions of adverse situations where both practical steps and prayer are being pursued are too often presented as if it is an either/or “us” versus “them” scenario of those who believe in science and those who believe in God. However if, on a scale of 1 to 10, “only believe in science” is a ‘1’ and “only believe in God” is a ’10’, then the truth is that most of the diverse range of folks on planet earth fall somewhere between, including most doctors.

The chief neurosurgeon on Congressswoman Gifford’s case, for instance, has shared his joy at seeing her so far remarkable recovery by calling it “a miracle” – and making it clear that he is not meaning “a scientific miracle” in this case.  Another neurosurgeon has said he (presumably mentally!) refused to give her permission to die.

Some of my US colleagues have been reflecting on this in recent blogs, which have also touched on the question of whether even a “miracle” is actually a miracle!

Here are excerpts from their blogs:

The possibilities by Sharon Frey, Manager, Media Division, Christian Science Committees on Publication

Like many people, I’ve been so thrilled to hear the good news about Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ recovery.  What a wonderful turn of events out of such a tragedy in Tuscon several weeks ago.

Even doctors are amazed at Giffords’ progress.

MSNBC has a clip of Dr. Michael Lemole, Giffords’ chief neurosurgeon in Tuscon, saying, “Miracles happen every day. And in medicine we like to very much attribute them to either what we do or others do around us, but a lot of medicine is outside of our control and we’re wise to acknowledge miracles.” (Read more)

She does not have that permission from me. by John D. Clague, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Oregon

What a powerful statement! I’ve been thinking about it since I first read it in The Globe and Mail two weeks ago. How often do we unwittingly give, or withhold, permission for so many things in our lives? In this instance, it was Gabrielle Gifford’s doctor guaranteeing that she wouldn’t die because he didn’t give her permission to do so.

Congresswoman Gifford was shot in the head point blank by a deranged gunman on January 8th, three days before Dr. Rhee’s statement was made. This senseless act of violence resulted in injury to others, and deaths. As a law enforcement officer, I encountered similar instances of senseless violence before I retired… (Read more)

Miraculous….or Natural? by Robert B. Clark, Committee on Publication for Florida.

The name Giffords and the word miracle have merged. Google the two words and you’ll find well over 3,000,000 references combining them. Imagine your name so widely associated with the idea of a miracle!

Having been raised in a religion that defines “miracle” as something divinely natural I find myself deeply grateful for Congresswoman Gifford’s remarkably swift recovery, and for what her Tuscon based neurosurgeon described as a “miracle”. I also continue to pray for a deeper understanding of miracles. Watching a miracle unfold and contemplating some of the how and why questions is a healthy pursuit, even if the answers are elusive… (Read more)

Thanks to Sharon, John, and Bob for their thoughts in regard to what we trust (and pray) is the Congresswoman’s progressive journey back to complete normality.

So what about Christian Scientists like myself?  Where do I stand on that 1 to 10 scale of science/God belief?

I owe a great deal of my day to day comfort and happiness to what science has brought forth…like the Apple Mac that I am typing this on!  But for the past three decades I have not chosen medical science either for prevention or healing of physical ailments. I have, though, chosen another “science” – the Science of Being, which is the systematic spiritual understanding of the love and power of an all-good God.

As a result of preferring prayer (specifically as understood in Christian Science) for all my health needs, I have not had to take a single drug in 30 years, nor have I had to have any surgery.  And outside of professional contact at conferences on healing, or social contact, I have only seen a doctor or been to a hospital on behalf of family or friends.

I guess you could say that would put me at 11 on the scale – 1 (for science) + 10 (for God)…!

To read Christian Science healing narratives, click here.

Or to hear a global internet version of those local “testimony” meetings featuring spontaneously shared “experiences, testimonies, and remarks on Christian Science” listen live at 7pm (UK time) – or for 24 hours afterwards – to The Wednesday Online Testimony Meeting Broadcast of The Mother Church in Boston, Massachusetts.


Categories: Uncategorized

Author:Tony Lobl

I write and edit articles on spirituality from the perspective of the practice of Christian Science as an Associate Editor for the Christian Science periodicals. I studied at the University of Surrey earning a BSc Hons Degree in Modern Mathematics before the teachings of Christian Science transformed my life and re-shaped my career.


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