As a medical student, I was taught that religion and spirituality have a definite place in the treatment room. Not in the judgmental, fire-breathing, hell and brimstone sort of way, but in the sense that patients who have faith in a higher, benevolent power have been proven over and over again to have better outcomes. In my pre-clinical years, we took a course called “Human Values.” There, we learned that the patient’s religion had a place in their treatment, and we were only to mirror their beliefs back to them to help give hope in times of sickness.
So when the question was asked on exams, I marked the “correct answer,” but now, as a practicing physician, I don’t believe that answer anymore. In fact, I KNOW it to be wrong. My faith is with me wherever I go! If you are a patient of mine, you are prayed for regularly, whether you are a Believer or not.
I respect all people, cultures, races, religions, sexual preferences—you name it! I believe in the free will that God has given us to make choices, and I would not try to force anyone to choose what I have chosen. Conversely, just as I believe that everyone else deserve freedom to practice and share their faith openly as long as it does no harm to others, I believe that I have the very same right, and so I exercise it.
There are many conditions that I treat with medications all day. Prescriptions abound, but what about things that there are no prescriptions for?
Women often suffer from the memories that haunt us; from guilt and shame that plays over and over in our minds about the times we didn’t get it right or weren’t there for a loved one. We will continuously replay the mental Lifetime movie of every painful drama in our lives until it eventually manifests itself as a physical ailment, bitterness, depression/anxiety, a shopping addiction, or even obesity.
What kinda prescription do I write for that???!
Well, prayer. I pray. I speak God’s promises over our lives. In 2 Kings 20:5, a sick prophet was crying out to God because he didn’t want to die with his live in the shape that it was in—the Bible says he needed to “set his house in order.” The Lord responds to him saying “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears. Surely I will heal you.” Wow! If I humble myself before God to intercede for my patients He will hear my prayers and He will intervene within His will for their lives. Better still, if I can encourage those who are Believers to strengthen their own faith and submit their petitions before God themselves, in supplication and with thanksgiving, He will surely hear them and answer them!
By now, some people are wondering if I am a “faith healer.” The answer to that question is yes! I certainly believe that my faith has gone much further than my medical treatments in some patients. I practice evidence-based medicine and surgery because that is what I am called to do. I prescribe medications and perform procedures and surgeries along with my prayers, but it is sometimes difficult to tell which does the most good.
One thing I do know with all certainty, prayer changes ME so that I can BE THE CHANGE that I want to see. And if you knew me “back when,” then you know that that in itself is a miracle of healing.