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As Dr. Dale Matthews examines the elderly woman sitting in front of him, he notes that her blood pressure is high, and she is complaining of a sinus infection. Rather than simply prescribing more medicines, Matthews chooses a method of treatment that many of his colleagues would consider "radical."

He prays.

The patient's blood pressure immediately drops 20 points. Her sinuses clear, and she starts breathing freely. She begins praising God in the doctor's office. "I have the Lord on my side," she says to an observer. "I praise him every day, and I love my doctor."

Matthews then encourages the woman to keep taking her medicine and writes out several prescriptions. Then, after examining her leg (bruised in a fall), he talks with her for several more minutes, supporting her decision to join the church choir.

"The best thing you can do for your health," he says, "is to keep praising God every day."

On yet another prescription pad, the doctor writes out Colossians 3:17 and hands it to the woman. He hugs her, and the woman beams.

"God bless you, Doctor," she says.

"God bless you, Juanita," Dr. Matthews answers.

Matthews, an internist and associate professor of medicine at the Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., is one of a growing number of medical professionals who are discovering the medical benefits of faith and prayer. For centuries, families and individuals facing medical crises have made prayer the bedrock of their experience. What is new is that certain segments in the medical community are beginning scientifically to study the effects of prayer on illnesses and injuries. And they are discovering that there is a growing body of evidence that suggests prayer can be an effective tool for combating illness and ...

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January 6, 1997

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