Whenever our near or dear ones suffer a sickness most of us often pass on the heartfelt promise that we’ll “pray for him or her”. So many people believe in the power of prayer that it’s now caught the attention of scientific doctors.

Today most hospitals and nursing homes are building prayer rooms for their patients. It is based on the principle that the relaxed mind is a creative mind. During prayer, when one is in touch with the consciousness, one is able to take conscious based right decisions. Most doctors even write on their prescriptions “I treat He cures”.

Medically it has been shown that even the subconscious mind of the unconscious person is listening. Any prayer would be captured by him building his or her inner confidence and faith to come out of the terminal sickness. We have seen the classical example of the effect of mass prayer on Amitabh Bachchan’s illness.

“Praying for your health is one of the most common complementary treatments people do on their own,” said Dr. Harold G. Koenig, co–director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke University Medical Center. About 90% of Americans and almost 100 % Indians pray at some point in their lives, and when they’re under stress, such as when they’re sick, they’re even more likely to pray.

More than one–third of people surveyed in a recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine said they often turned to prayer when faced with medical concerns. In the poll involving more than 2,000 Americans, 75 percent of those who prayed said they prayed for wellness, while 22 percent said they prayed for specific medical conditions.

Numerous randomized studies have been done on this subject. In one such study, neither patients nor the health–care providers had any idea who was being prayed for. The coronary–care unit patients didn’t even know there was a study being conducted. And, those praying for the patients had never even met them. The result: While those in the prayer group had about the same length of hospital stay, their overall health was slightly better than the group that didn’t receive special prayers.

“Prayer may be an effective adjunct to standard medical care,” wrote the authors of this 1999 study, also published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. However, a more recent trial from the April 2006 issue of the American Heart Journal suggests that it’s even possible for some harm to come from prayer. In this study, which included 1,800 people scheduled for heart surgery, the group who knew they were receiving prayers developed more complications from the procedure, compared to those who had not been a focus of prayer.

Many patients are reluctant and do not talk on this subject with their doctors. Only 11% patients mention prayer to their doctors. But, doctors are more open to the subject than patients realize, particularly in serious medical situations. In a study of doctors’ attitudes toward prayer and spiritual behavior, almost 85 percent of doctors thought they should be aware of their patients’ spiritual beliefs. Most doctors said they wouldn’t pray with their patients even if they were dying, unless the patient specifically asked the doctor to pray with them. In that case, 77% of doctors were willing to pray for their patient.

Most people are convinced that prayer helps. Some people are ‘foxhole religious’ types and prayer’s almost a reaction or cry to the universe for help. But, many people do it because they’ve experienced benefit from it in the past.

If it’s something you want to do and you feel it might be helpful, there’s no reason you shouldn’t do it. If one has inclination that prayer might work, he or she should do it.