Q: Prayer and medicine?
This question came in awhile back:
One of your posters (Emily, I think) had reported that a practitioner had explained (in essence) that the reason the practitioner couldn't prayerfully support a patient who was also using a doctor was because then neither method would work. I've had practitioners tell me the same thing (not you, obviously!): that combining prayer with medicine renders both methods to be ineffective.
So here's my question: if using medicine renders prayer (God) to be ineffective in healing, doesn't that mean that medicine is more powerful than God? Is God all-powerful, or isn't He? Isn't the Truth true? It's sure not too reassuring to know that "omnipotence" can fail in some circumstances! And how does that jibe with the first commandment?
I have never understood this, and I was so interested to read that the same argument had been used to others—almost word-for-word with what had been "explained" to me. (Maybe it was the same practitioner!)
I'll just share here my approach to this issue, and see if that clarifies. There are probably a million different answers depending on the practitioner.
First of all, to my mind you won't see God engaging in battle with medicine to see who's stronger. It's not a fight between the two. It's important to remember that whatever it is that needs healing exists only in belief. There is no "real" sickness that God or medicine is fixing. It's not a contest to see which one is more effective at eradicating that which is not real to begin with. To God, sickness is non-existent. Period.
Medicine takes the opposite view, of course. Sickness or disease is something real to be fought and conquered. Medicine doesn't render God ineffective by any means. It is, however, using a different strategy for fixing the problem.
When I'm working with a patient who is also seeing a doctor, I consider several things.
First, is the doctor's treatment intended to heal the problem? Or is it rather providing the ability for the patient to cope while the healing occurs outside of the doctor's influence? If it's the latter, I feel completely comfortable giving the prayer assist because there's no conflict with where healing is actually happening—within thought.
Next, is the medical procedure simply adjusting something mechanically (i.e., surgery)? Mary Baker Eddy talks about surgery being the "branch of [Christian Science] healing which will be last acknowledged," and she talks about confining the spiritual healing work then to reconstruction and inflammation, etc. To my mind, if the patient feels the mechanical fix of surgery is the best option for them at this time, then I'm right there with them supporting harmonious action and quick recovery.
Finally, is there an understanding that the drugs involved are not the true source of the relief the patient might be feeling? This is where things get tricky. What I haven't been able to do as a prayerful practitioner is pray for drugs to work. I'd rather see the patient off the drugs and understanding that harmony comes from their divine connection to Spirit. I wouldn't want to interfere with the patient's chosen healing process, however, so if ongoing drug use to cure a problem is involved, I'd most likely opt out.
But remember, if combining prayerful treatment with medicine renders both ineffective, that's not a statement on either God or medicine. It's a statement about the conflict within the patient's thought. It's like a tug-of-war game where the sides are pulling the person in two different directions. In that scenario, you can see how the person would wind up standing still.
Would love to know anyone else's thoughts on this!
Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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