Sunday, July 31, 2011

Grandpa's Faith Healing - A True Story

As you know, the brain is complex and powerful, and scientists have only begun to understand its mysteries. Some mental feats seem miraculous. I've posted the amazing story of a man who can "will" his body temperature to rise.

Refocusing your mind on music can relieve pain and reduce the need for anesthetic. The effect is well-known and many doctors have used it successfully with patients.

In a study, Fabrizio Benedetti, a researcher of the University of Turin in Italy, injected patients with a simple saline solution that patients believed was morphine, and the pain went away. This is known as "the placebo effect." His explanation: "The relationship between expectation and therapeutic outcome is a wonderful model to understand mind-body interaction,"

My grandfather was a devout Mormon who spent the last 20 years of his life performing services in the St. George temple in Utah. He once told me that when he was a young man raising a family in Nevada, he wasn't so righteous. He often went into town to drink with his friends. One night he was walking home in a blinding snow storm, and he got disoriented. He wandered for hours, and he feared he wouldn't survive. He prayed to God that if He would guide him home he would rededicate his life to the Lord. Obviously, he found his way home, because decades later he was telling me the story. And he did, indeed, became a man of great faith.

Years before I heard this story, my mother told me that Grandpa's doctors had found a brain tumor and he would have to have it surgically removed. But before he would allow the surgery, he insisted that a group of Mormon elders be allowed to perform a "laying on of hands" prayer ceremony to heal him. After being administered to by the elders, the doctors did x-rays to determine the precise location of the tumor. But they couldn't find it. Miraculously, it was gone. This incident became a legendary story of Christian faith in our family.

My mother also told me about my grandfather's "patriarchal blessing," a one-time revelation that can be given to a person of faith that foretells his or her spiritual journey. In his ceremony, the patriarch said that before grandfather died, he would participate in the second coming of Jesus and play a part in the administration of a new era. This prophecy added to the aura of holiness that surrounded my grandfather, and it helped bolster the faith of other family members.

In the end, grandfather died the way everyone else does. Jesus did not come again, and there was no new era - although this fact has never come up in conversation in my family.

Still, the incident of the brain tumor was pretty amazing. The explanation my mother gave: "The Lord works in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform."

Another possibility: It was another example of the amazing things the brain is capable of doing to the body, "the relationship between expectation and therapeutic outcome," as Dr. Benedetti elegantly put it.

The latter explanation works best for me, but I'm thrilled if anyone wants to see this as evidence of the power of prayer and how the Lord can intervene to bless the faithful.

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2011. Building Personal Strength .


Verna Wilder said...

I enjoyed reading the story about your grandfather, Denny, and as I read, I nodded, uh-huh, yep. I believe in the power of prayer to heal the body, but I don't assign that power to a deity or to the brain so much as to a recognition that I can't even begin to understand how much our minds (prayer, intention, brains, whatever) are capable of. So I choose to believe that any form of loving intention - especially coming from many directions at once - is healing power. My son-in-law recently had emergency heart surgery to repair a damaged valve that had caused sepsis. The doctors didn't believe that he would survive the surgery. So the whole family put out a request for prayer - in any form - and we had a huge community holding my boy in their hearts - about 500 nuns, several Pentecostal communities, a few drumming groups, a shaman here and there, and a bunch of aging boomers. He survived the 8-hour surgery and is doing fine.

I love discussions like this and embrace the understanding that human beings are as powerful as we accept ourselves to be - but perhaps not in the ways we expect ourselves to be. Nice post. Thank you.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Grandfather sounded like quite a man. His healing was very interesting, and I don't discount anything in this life.



Michael Roby said...


Enjoy your tweets and loved this article. Faith is an all powerful expression and demonstration of that force, that being many of us call God. You mentioned the patriarch's blessing wasn't 100% accurate. Sometimes people let their own feelings and opinions get mixed in with inspiration, but it doesn't matter. We don't even know what we don't know. Chalk it up to us seeing in a mirror dimly. Blessing on you, Denny, and yours and your work in this world.

Michael Roby

teinetoa4lyphe said...

Awesome blog. I just posted a blog of my personal journey currently with cancer. Thank you for sharing. :)