Reflect on your present blessings, of which every man has many; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.
-Charles Dickens

From "The Healing Power of Faith" by Harold G. Koenig, M.D.:

We physicians do not fully understand the relationship between mind, body, and that intangible element known as spirit. But we treat religious people every day whose indomitable spirits and faith prevent their physical sickness from ruling their lives.

The nature of "faith" is described by many of my patients as the confident belief in a supreme being, which most call God. For them, God is loving and accessible. This is a God who listens to prayer, who responds, who desires good for humanity. This is an intentional

God who sets goals we can strive toward to reach our highest potential in terms of physical, mental and spiritual health-which aren't always achieved in that order. Those with faith in this God rarely feel lost or abandoned or experience the psychological anguish we call "anomie," a condition that affects millions in our fast-paced, affluent world.

What is the connection between the concepts of faith and power?

People have told me that their faith gives them a tangible sense of mastery in their lives. When the inevitable stress of daily problems-illness, financial worries, personal conflicts-threatens to overwhelm religious people, they draw on a reserve of energy and motivation that allows them to persevere. They trust in God to fill the gap between what they could normally endure and what is actually required of them. They do not struggle alone, but rather see God as their active partner in the continuous struggle to achieve peace and balance in their lives.

Is this confidence in "the healing power of faith" rational from a purely scientific perspective?

I recognize that research can neither prove nor disprove the reality of answered prayers or divine intercession. By definition, a supernatural event is beyond the reach of scientific investigation. And I also accept that my role as a physician and medical researcher is different from the clergy's. But, although scientists cannot demonstrate whether God exists and intervenes in people's lives, I have learned that we can certainly explore and chart in a scientific manner the effect

of religious faith and practice on physical and emotional health.

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