Even when I was a kid I wondered about that one out of every five dentists who didn’t “recommend sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum.” I know. I’m dating myself. But if you’re between the ages of, say, 45 and 105, you know what I’m talking about. (Need a reminder? Check out this video).
Although I doubt very much that this guy was recommending gum with sugar, he still struck me as kind of the odd man out.
These days folks recommend all kinds of things: what movies to watch, which restaurant to eat at, the best dog walker – even what you should do about that nagging backache. And, chances are, the reason they’re making that recommendation is that they can personally vouch for the quality of that product, service, or treatment.
Which reminds me…
Not too long ago I had a whopper of a backache that left me unable to get around comfortably from the time I woke up till the time I went to bed. Although I’m fairly well aware of the various treatments available – everything from painkillers to surgery to a visit to the local chiropractor – I ended up going with something I’d used many times before. Prayer.
This is where the “4 out of 5 dentists” analogy comes in…
Ask yourself: When was the last time you recommended prayer as a means of treating a physical ailment? Don’t feel bad. I use it all the time – and with good success – and yet I’m often reluctant to recommend it to others, maybe because of some unnatural fear of being seen as that “fifth dentist.”
But despite this reluctance, this doesn’t mean we’re not relying on prayer ourselves. According to a study released by the American Psychological Association, nearly one half of all Americans turn to prayer as a means of addressing their various health problems. And of those surveyed, more than twice as many reported “better” as opposed to “worse” health as a result of these prayers.
Which, of course, begs the question: What exactly is prayer?
For those who conduct medical research, this is a bit of a sticky wicket since prayer is such an individual thing. How does one go about measuring the effectiveness of something they can’t even define? And just because someone says they got better, does this mean that prayer had anything to do with it?
Just ask Mayo Clinic hematologist, Morrie Gertz, who said, “It’s not my job to tell [my patients] they shouldn’t feel better…We may not have great evidence that alternative medicine works, but that’s very different from saying it doesn’t work.”
By the way, shortly after I decided to pray about that situation with my back, I began to feel a lot better. That was at least two or three years ago and I haven’t had that problem since. Maybe now when someone asks me what I would suggest to relieve an aching back, I just might recommend prayer. And, chances are, at least one out of two of those reading this post just might do the same.