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Most Americans Turn to Prayer for Healing

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Most Americans Turn to Prayer for Healing

Nearly 90 percent have asked for divine intervention for someone else

When it comes to dealing with illness, the majority of Americans turn to a higher power for help, a new study found.

“Outside of belief in God, there may be no more ubiquitous religious expression in the U.S. than use of healing prayer,” said study author Jeff Levin, director of the program on religion and population health at Baylor University in Texas.

About 87 percent have prayed for healing for others, the study found, with slightly more than half of participants saying they did so often, according to a 2010 survey of more than 1,700 adults across the country. The study also found that almost 80 percent of Americans reported praying for healing for themselves at some point in their lives. And nearly one-third said they did so often.

About 54 percent have asked for prayers for their health, 26 percent have given a “laying on of hands” for healing and 53 percent have been part of a prayer group, prayer circle or prayer chain, according to the study.

“The most surprising finding is that more than a quarter of all Americans have practiced laying on of hands—and nearly one in five has done so on multiple occasions,” Levin said. “Interestingly, most people who use prayer for healing do so alongside regular medical care, rather than as a substitution, as has been presumed up to now.”

The study results should come as no surprise. A Washington Post-Kaiser Foundation found black folks, particularly black women, consider themselves very religious, with many of us saying we turn to our faith during troubled times.

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BHM Edit Staff