By T Mark Korpu
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, certain of what we do not see…and without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” That was a passage from the book of Hebrews in the Christian bible. Chapter eleven of the book of Hebrews states what faith is and gives examples of faith and faithful people over a period spanning from the creation of the universe to the time the author penned the book. The Torah of the Jews, the Koran of the Muslims, and every religion, mainstream or not, preach one important tenet as the basis of all the sermons and teachings of their religion: faith.
It is by faith, the foundation of prayer, they teach, that all of man’s requests are answered. According to local traditional doctor, Moses Teah, “In our profession people have to believe in what we do. We don’t perform magic; rather we work on people’s faith. The answers come from somewhere out there. We communicate with what we do not know or see. People say we are Satanists, but ask these modern Africans who are now Muslims and Christians if they have seen God. We all believe in the same entity but call him by different names.” World-renowned Nigerian prophet, Joshua’s crusades across Africa brought the question of faith and false prophets to the forefront of the battle between good and evil, God and the devil. Some people said the prophet healed them, some said he was a charlatan. But a quick cursory glance of the mainstream religions have shown that all of their prophets, Jesus, Mohammed, Moses, Buddha and Krishna, all had detractors who called them liars and false prophets. But this article is not about prophets, shamans or holy men or women. Rather, it is about the universal phenomenon of faith.
Many people, especially scientists and metaphysicians, believe that the universe is electrically charged and that a prayer of faith, said over time, creates a ripple that goes out to the infinite and comes back to the person saying the prayer in the form of an answer.
Throughout time, the power of prayer said with faith has been questioned by science. The analytical mind of the scientist calls for proof of the existence of a higher being. These scientists, believers and non-believers alike, have produced studies into the effects of a faithful prayer on our physical as well as our spiritual well-being. It is interesting to read the results of these studies. One of the most quoted scientific studies of prayer was done between August of 1982 and May 1983. During that period, 393 patients in the San Francisco General Hospital’s Coronary Care Unit participated in a double blind study to assess the therapeutic effects of intercessory prayer. At the end of the study, the patients who had received prayer as a part of the study were healthier than those who had not. The prayed-for group had less need of having CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) performed and less need for the use of mechanical ventilators. Also, they had a diminished necessity for diuretics and antibiotics, less occurrences of pulmonary edema, and fewer deaths. According to the researchers, these results could be attributed to the power of prayer.
When you first meet Patience Jallah the stillness of her gaze can be unsettling. But after hearing her story, first from her son, I came to the conclusion that that stillness comes from the patience that faith requires. After over two decades of battling neck and back pains that resulted in early retirement from her job, hypertension, arthritis, and finally, the attendant depression, the mother of four and grandmother of two attributed her victory over her ailments to faithful prayers made over twenty years. “I was working for a bank. Then they introduced this voluntary retrenchment package and I opted for it. I had to be realistic: they had provided me with a special chair on my doctor’s recommendation and I was in and out of the hospital. This was also during the time talk of productivity came up. I decided to take the voluntary retrenchment package,” said Ms. Jallah.
Between the discovery of her ailments and her voluntary retrenchment in 2015, she had countless trips to see specialists, physiotherapists and psychiatrists. For years she had to wear neck and back braces. All along, the drugs she was required to take kept increasing. The resulting hypertension led to the discovery of gall stones. Because taking all those drugs was depressing her, she personally terminated her daily drug dose routine. When her blood pressure dropped to zero and she had a swollen liver, “I woke up in ICU.” After two unsuccessful operations to remove the gall stones, things were looking very bad. Shortly before that her medical aid had been cut off and, without a job, she was quickly running out of money.
A member of the Blessed Ministries, headed by a Nigerian pastor, Ms Jallah had been faithfully calling on God. Having gone to deliverance prayers, crusades and the like, the power of those prayers were slowly beginning to materialize. During her third operation to remove the gall stones, her church held deliverance prayers for her. She attributed the partial success of her operation to those prayers. Having seen tapes of prophet Joshua healing people and converting Satanists, she started praying that she will get a chance to go to Nigeria for the man of God to pray for her. “But I couldn’t raise the money for the trip. I continued to pray. Then one day my son called me saying that I should go see Prophet Joshua.” Taking this as a sign of her answered prayers, and out of that faith and in anticipation of her impending healing she stopped wearing her neck and back braces. The knowledge and sight of this got her friends and family worried. After her encounter with the prophet she said that she had been cured. “I know my own body more than any doctor. I don’t have the symptoms of my back and neck pains anymore. I am cured!”
When questioned about the others that claimed that the prophet was a charlatan, Ms Jallah, whose diabetic son wasn’t healed by the prophet, said, “Everybody has his or her own time. Only God knows. I consider myself very blessed having been healed out of these thousands of people. Why me and not them? I can’t answer that. Prophet Joshua can’t answer that neither, only God can answer that. What I can say to those people who didn’t get cured is that they should only trust in God. Faith is sometimes a patient process.”
Lab experiments have shown how prayers said in faith have healed heart and cancer patients. Even plants and micro organisms have been shown to have reactions to the power of distant intentions. Ms Jallah’s story, together with countless similar stories told around the world, attests to the indisputable power of prayer. Adherence to a specific religion is not a prerequisite of faith and prayer. The act of believing alone is what is required. The expectations we have and hold dear while praying factor into the outcome of our prayers. Interesting thing to note is that in all the experiments, science has also come a long way toward showing that prayer might help with whatever we hope for, physical or spiritual.