People all over the world have been participating in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Recently, my own daughters were nominated to have a bucket of ice poured on their head and send $10 to the ALS Foundation. And they accepted it.
Amazingly, this challenge has raised millions of dollars to support finding the cure for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a progressive neurodegenerate disease. At this time, the millions the ALS Foundation receives haven’t resulted in finding a cure, but much of the money is spent to find ways to comfort those with ALS and support the family members who must care for them.
As the Ice Bucket Challenge gained momentum, I asked myself: is this the only way to find a cure? When a family member actually nominated me to participate in the ‘challenge,’ I wondered if perhaps I could offer an additional way- a spiritual approach – to contribute to finding a cure for this disease.
Christ Jesus’ ministry of healing is a common thread throughout the Gospels – wasn’t he the master healer of all diseases – including those that degenerated the mental and physical capabilities of people in his day? The profound symbolism of Jesus’ instruction of “serving” or “giving a cup of cold water” to those in need wasn’t lost on me as I thought about what I could do.
Jesus’ simple act of offering a cup of cold water to someone in need is a reminder that each of us can contribute to finding the cure. I believe the Christian cup of cold water surely offers comfort love, and compassion for those who are suffering. Yet, perhaps Jesus’ works tell us it offers more than comfort alone. It offers the complete restoration of health through prayer.
While I don’t personally know someone healed of ALS, I do know of Jane, who was healed of Multiple Sclerosis. Like ALS, MS is a disabling disease with no cure. Jane was diagnosed in 1984 during a routine employment physical and was told there was no treatment. After the initial alarming news, Jane turned to her own treatment – a prayerful study. She was comforted and healed by praying with ideas such as: “God is always present and there is always hope.” Subsequent follow-up tests required for her employment resulted in getting a phone call from the doctor saying her test results no longer supported a diagnosis of MS.
Whether prayer can heal disease has for years been the subject of speculation. Many studies are inconclusive. But, others confirm that those who are religiously active tend to have better health outcomes.
WebMD recently documented some results from a pilot-study about the effects of prayer on patients. And, a growing number of doctors are studying the link between the mere mortal and the Almighty, as some neurological studies have recently revealed. Mitchell Krucoff, Duke University School of Medicine, has been studying prayer and spirituality since 1996 — and practicing it much longer in his patient care. He says, [Today,] we’re seeing systematic investigations — clinical research…” he tells WebMD. “All of these studies, all the reports, are remarkably consistent in suggesting the potential measurable health benefit associated with prayer or spiritual interventions.”
With all the signs pointing to prayer improving health – you might ask “how can I make a difference when the need is so overwhelming?” As in Jesus’ time, there is a way to improve health – to offer that cup of cold water to someone who is spiritually thirsty and seeking a cure. Just as healing was possible for Jane, it’s possible for anyone. The ALS Foundation is requesting our participation to raise funds. And, the Divine is calling on each of us to do our part in reclaiming that healing practice. I’m planning to do mine!