GLEANINGS (May 19, 2017):

  • ALBANY, OR – Healing power of prayer
  • GROVE, OK – Forgiveness and healing
  • VIETNAM/ENGLAND – 25 years of caring for orphans
    _____________________________________________________________________________________THE STUNNING SCIENCE BEHIND THE HEALING POWER OF PRAYER
    Dr Don Colbert ( shares good news…Even a mere 30 seconds of prayer, acknowledging God and giving thanks for all the blessings in your life, can have a powerful effect on your body, mind, and spirit.If you have a regular practice of prayer, then you are well aware that benefits are very real and wide-ranging. Many people who engage in these activities report psychological and spiritual benefits such as a sense of greater clarity, purpose, gratitude, presence, sense of connection, and overall well-being. However, these sorts of subjective benefits can be hard to measure scientifically.A beneficial ancient practice
    Interestingly, despite the difficulty in quantifying the spiritual effects of prayer, there have been many studies looking at the physical benefits of this ancient practice.A 2013 Pew Research Poll estimated that over half of Americans pray daily. A University of Rochester study found that over 85% of people dealing with a major illness turn to prayer. Every religion or spiritual belief system has a form of prayer or meditation as a foundational principle.This shows that prayer is not merely a cultural phenomenon but a fundamental aspect of the human experience. Yet, many people still struggle to reconcile belief in the power of prayer with a scientific worldview.Prayer and your health
    Duke University’s Harold G. Koenig MD, author of several books on faith and healing, says ‘Studies have shown prayer can prevent people from getting sick—and when they do get sick, prayer can help them get better faster.’ So how does that happen?

    Harvard Medical School cardiovascular specialist Dr Herbert Benson discovered what is called the ‘relaxation response.’ This is the physiological state that occurs during prayer. It involves the autonomic (automatic) nervous system shifting over to a parasympathetic (rest and digest) dominant state, as opposed to the sympathetic (fight, flight, freeze) state that most of us spend the majority of the day in.

    The act of prayer has shown to increase certain helpful neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, which help promote a state of relaxation, focus, motivation, and well-being.

    But the effects are not confined to momentary relaxation. Long-term prayer can actually rewire and rebuild the brain!

    Less depression and anxiety, heart benefits, longer life
    With the ability to scan the brain using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), researchers have been able to note the physiological changes that occur in the brains of those who pray regularly.

    Lisa Miller, professor and director of Clinical Psychology and director of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Teachers College, Columbia University conducted a study on 103 people who were at a high risk of depression. Using MRI, she found that those who prayed regularly tended to have a thicker cerebral cortex which has been associated with less depression and anxiety.

    Another study has shown that urban children with asthma cope better when incorporating prayer into their lives.

    Prayer is also good for your heart. Christians have been shown to have lower average blood-pressure than non-believers. Prayer also is correlated to less heart attacks and quicker recovery from heart surgery. There is even evidence to suggest that regular prayer will help you live longer!

    So with all these benefits, you should consider incorporating prayer as part of your daily regimen.

    How you pray matters
    According to a study published in the journal Sociology of Religion titled Prayer, Attachment to God, and Symptoms of Anxiety-Related Disorders among US Adults, looked at the data of 1,714 volunteers. What they found is that those who pray with a loving and protective conception of God experience a more dramatic reduction in anxiety related symptoms compared to those who pray without the expectation of comfort or protection.

    This shows us just how important faith actually is!

    The publishers believe that the emotional and spiritual comfort from prayer to a loving and compassionate God offers a sense of hope and security, while those who pray with a more judgmental conception of God breeds resentment, rejection, and detachment. So understanding the character of your God is important.

    A prayer a day keeps the doctor away
    The most beautiful thing about all of this research is not only that it validates the ancient wisdom behind prayer, but it also shows us how incredibly easy it can be to implement powerful healing practices into our lives. With so many benefits on the physical, psychological, and spiritual levels, there is really no reason to not pray or meditate every single day!

    The best times of day are first thing in the morning and right before bed. However you can pray in the car on the way to work, in line at the grocery store, sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, or before you eat your meals.

    Even a mere 30 seconds of prayer, acknowledging God and giving thanks for all the blessings in your life, can have a powerful effect on your body, mind, and spirit.

    So what do you think? Have you been inspired to reinvigorate the prayer in your life?

  • Source: Breaking Christian News (Recommended) –  ___________________________________________________________________________________FORGIVENESS: GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH? Carol Round, Special to ASSIST writes: Looking down from the cross on the Roman soldiers who were gambling for his clothing, Jesus declared, Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they cast lots to divide his clothing’ (Luke 23:34 NRSV).But it wasn’t just the Roman soldiers he referred to during this distressing time. On either side of Jesus were two criminals who belittled him. As the religious leaders mocked him and the crowd jeered at him, what did Jesus do? He prayed for them – a prayer of unmatched mercy and redeeming love. Even in his agony, Jesus’ concern was not for himself but for the forgiveness of his enemies.Good Friday has passed, but Jesus’ prayer on that fateful day should be taken to heart every day! From the day Jesus was crucified was his willingness to forgive those who persecuted him.

    Like Jesus, we too must forgive!
    Did you know withholding forgiveness from someone who has wronged you does more harm to you than the one you refuse to forgive?

    • Refusing to forgive not only weighs down the spirit; it can also affect your physical health.
    • Whether it’s a minor spat or long-held resentment toward another, unresolved conflict can go deeper than most realise, especially if it’s a family member or friend.
    • Refusing to forgive ups your risk of high blood pressure, the risk of heart attack, sleep problems, increased pain and levels of anxiety, depression and stress.
    • As we age, research reveals a greater increase in the connection to forgiveness and our health.

     ‘There is an enormous physical burden to being hurt and disappointed,’ says Karen Swartz, MD, director of the Mood Disorders Adult Consultation Clinic at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. ‘Chronic anger puts you into a fight-or-flight mode, which results in numerous changes in heart rate, blood pressure and immune response. Those changes, then, increase the risk of depression, heart disease and diabetes, among other conditions. Forgiveness, however, calms stress levels, leading to improved health.’

    Make the decision!
    We’ve all faced the decision to forgive someone who has wronged us. Almost 10 years ago, I had a choice to forgive a close family member who had hurt me. While I thought I had forgiven this individual, as the years passed, the incident returned to haunt me, rearing its ugly head just as I believed I could move forward in the relationship.

    One evening, I realised I could not let go without the help of my heavenly Father. As I prepared for bed, I recalled the hateful words exchanged during the interaction. The anger and hurt returned. My heart beat faster, threatening to jump out of my chest. I couldn’t continue this pattern of letting go and taking it back. Dropping to my knees beside my bed, I cried out, ‘God, I can’t do this without your help. Help me to forgive her as your Son forgave his persecutors.’

    Immediately, I was filled with an indescribable peace, a peace only found in the arms of Jesus.

    What about you? Is there someone you need to forgive?

    Carol Round, Special to ASSIST, follows her passion of using her writing and speaking abilities to inspire others. Recommended: Journaling with Jesus: How to Draw Closer to God. Link: Carol’s A Matter of Faith weekly column: /

    Recommended: Carol Round’s Nana’s 3 Jars – a great children’s book on giving, saving, spending, faith and generosity –



    Dan Wooding, ASSIST founder and director, recalls an incident in his reporting ministry when he visited Vietnam…

    It all began when, back in 1975, I was working for the West London’s Middlesex County Times had been awarded a Rotary International Group Study Exchange scholarship with others from London, England, to visit Southeast Asia and speak at various Rotary Clubs in the region about our lives in the UK, and learn about the lives of people there.

    There came a possibility of finishing our tour in South Vietnam and seeing a Dr Wang but, not surprisingly, I found that the rest of the team didn’t feel too happy about going on to Saigon, so I made the decision to go there on my own.

    Country scarred by war
    I don’t think I had ever prayed so much as, when our plane flew over Vietnam. As I looked down, I felt terror as I saw hundreds of bomb craters pock-marking the whole countryside. This indeed was a country scarred by a terrible war. At the time, the Americans had withdrawn their 500,000-strong army and, despite the so-called peace agreement with Ho Chi Min, the Viet Cong were continuing their inevitable push towards Saigon.

    Civilians sort through the ruins of their homes in Cholon, the heavily damaged Chinese section of Saigon

    ‘I am surprised a journalist would come here now,’ said the passport control officer at the heavily guarded Saigon International Airport. ‘We are facing a nightmare, yet the world’s press largely ignores our plight. Write the truth!’

    I thanked him and headed out through the barrier. I looked in vain for the doctor who was supposed to meet me, but he was not there. My heart was now pounding violently. What should I do? I was in a strange and dangerous country. A kindly airline girl agreed to phone through to him and discovered he was dealing with patients. ‘Apparently he had been given the wrong flight to meet, and had returned to his surgery thinking that I had decided not to come after all. ‘He wants you to take a taxi to this address,’ she told me.

    Soon we pulled up outside a large house surrounded by a high wall. The driver honked his horn and a girl suddenly opened the gate and let us in. As I went into the house, Mrs Wang, a slight Chinese lady, greeted me: ‘You are welcome in our home. Thank you for coming. Not many people do so these days.’

    After Chinese tea and polite conversation, Dr Wang arrived and greeted me: ‘Mr Wooding, I can’t thank you enough for coming to Saigon. You will get a deep insight into the real truth about what is happening here.’ As the portions of the Chinese meal were served to us, the stocky doctor told me his story.

    Doctor’s simple philosophy – ‘To safeguard children is to safeguard humanity’
    ‘My wife and I came here from Shanghai, China, about twenty-five years ago when I was a newly-qualified doctor. I was really shocked when I saw the plight of the thousands of poor people living here. So we both decided to settle. Since then I have treated more than a million Vietnamese free of charge. Do you know that in our war-torn land we now have about 400,000 war orphans?’

    When I was shown to my bedroom on the second floor, Dr Wang informed me that the room had been taken over by the Army during the Tet Offensive, when the Viet Cong had tried to take over Saigon.

    ‘There were gun battles going on from your balcony,’ he said in a matter-of-fact way. Having never been in a war zone before, I was finding the tension difficult to cope with.

     The next morning I wanted to take some photographs of Dr Wang’s Rotary Clinic for children, which was across the road from his home. As I pointed my camera and pushed the shutter, an arm came around my neck and began throttling me. ‘Argh…’ I made a sharp glottal sound of surprise. I could feel myself losing consciousness as I fell backwards.

    Then I heard Dr Wang’s angry voice shouting at my assailant. ‘Let him go,’ he yelled loudly, his eyes bulging with fury. ‘He’s with me.’ The man eventually let go of my throat and I got up from the ground and looked up at a young man with a terrible scar across his face.

    ‘I am sorry for that, Mr Wooding,’ said the doctor. ‘He thought you were photographing the machine-gun post in front of the clinic. Men who have been injured in battle, like this one, are stationed to watch for suspicious characters that try and photograph military installations. If I were you, I’d be a bit more careful with that camera.’

    As I sat with him during his surgery and saw the never-ending stream of youngsters, he turned to me and said, ‘My philosophy is simple. To safeguard children is to safeguard humanity.’

    Each day in Saigon, I met heroes. Relief workers, medical staff, and missionaries – all of whom would not leave their posts of duty. ‘We know we could be killed, but we will not leave,’ said one American missionary. ‘God has called me to Vietnam and here I will stay – until the very end.’

    When the time came for me to leave Saigon, I had tears in my eyes. I thanked the doctor and his wife for their kindness to me during my stay.

    ‘My eyes have been opened by this visit,’ I told them. ‘Any time you are in England, I would be honored if you would come and stay with Norma and me.’

    Forced to flee
    I never dreamed that they would have to take me up on the offer to house them, but shortly afterwards it happened. Doctor Wang and his wife looked as if they had been through a nightmare when they arrived at Heathrow Airport. The couple, who had dedicated a quarter of a century to serving the people there, had been forced to flee for their lives. The country was in turmoil.

    ‘We lost almost everything,’ said Dr Wang after I introduced him to my wife, Norma. ‘We are going to have to start our lives again from the beginning.’ The couple did stay with us for a time in our new home in Walton-on-Thames and became valued members of our family.

    Then I discovered that some of Dr Wang’s former patients were in England at the Ockenden Venture Home in Haslemere. The orphans had been flown over to England by a newspaper that had mounted ‘a last-ditch effort to rescue’ the children from the mayhem that was expected to result from the fall of Saigon.

    Some of the babies ‘rescued’ from Saigon

    Jesus cares for children: Others may not ,or may forget to
    The paper had prominently featured the airlift and had come in for considerable criticism for taking the children out of their natural environment, however bad it had been – but I now was shocked with the apparent callousness of the man on the picture desk when I told him of this reunion between Dr Wang and their war orphans.

    ‘We’ve gone off Vietnamese war orphans, old boy,’ he said curtly. ‘Sorry, we’re not interested.’ With that the phone went dead.

    After their stay with us, the good doctor and his wife left the UK and start their lives again in another part of the world, and when I saw them off at Heathrow Airport, I suddenly felt ashamed of part of my profession. The words of that man on the picture desk kept repeating in my mind.

    Then I thought of the words of Jesus: ‘As much as you do it unto these children, you do it unto me.’

    Full report link:


    isclaimer: Articles, as well as the sources linked to, do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ConnectingwithYou! Our thanks mainly to Dan Wooding, ASSIST ( and other news sources for timely gleanings



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