I learned of healing prayer through Rabbi Douglas Goldhamer who studied, practices and teaches healing prayer. He suffered from a debilitating vascular disorder which impeded his ability to walk. Through healing prayer he healed himself.* It was miraculous.
In 2003, my father was diagnosed with Thymic Carcinoma: a very rare cancer of the thymus gland. Although my mother did not believe in healing prayer, my father always claimed that he had a personal relationship with God and they spoke often. This faith prompted my parents to pray with Douglas prior to my father’s surgery in order to save his life. Both of my parents prayed (and cried) in front of the ark with the Rabbi. They claimed it was a spiritual experience like none other. Today, my father is over 10 years cancer-free and going strong. Thank God.
Up until 2007, I had witnessed healing prayer from the sidelines. It worked for others yet I wasn’t really convinced. Why, I don’t really know, but I wasn’t. I actually was quite skeptical of all Judaism because my beliefs did not correlate to the prayers said in services on a regular basis. I was much more spiritual than religious but had not come to that realization – yet. Then, in the blink of an eye, everything changed. In April 2006, in what was literally a matter of seconds, I began to exhibit symptoms that were similar to those of a stroke. I realized something was dreadfully wrong and was terrified. The next three weeks were a whirlwind of uncomfortable tests and doctors’ hypotheses. In the end, the dreaded words were uttered by a specialist, “My dear, beyond a shadow of a doubt, you have Multiple Sclerosis.” Wow! Talk about a life-altering moment! I was stunned, shocked, and frightened.
Word of my diagnosis spread like wildfire amongst our family and friends. Many called wanting to express their concerns, ask questions and let me know they were there to help. But what could anyone really do? No one could take this dreadful disease away or could they? After taking almost a full year to physically adjust to the medication and a new lifestyle, I called Rabbi Goldhamer to inquire about healing prayer. Douglas welcomed me with open arms, immediate unconditional love and a non-obtrusive sensitivity that no one else had ever shown me (aside from my parents).
Our first visit was awkward as I did not know what to expect. When Douglas asked about my expectations, my explanation was that it would work like therapy; he would listen to me and use Rabbinical thought and traditions to explain why I felt the way I did. He promptly told me with a glint in his eye, “No, it doesn’t work that way. This is not therapy, I am not a shrink.” We shared a laugh and then I hesitantly asked, “Then what is healing prayer?”
We began discussing the power of healing prayer on others. Stories of people’s tumors disappearing were shared in-depth. Apparently, people come from all over the world to pray with and learn from Rabbi Doug because healing prayer works best when done regularly and with someone who is skilled. It is nowhere near as powerful when practiced alone.
It is important to note that when performing healing prayer, one must also follow and practice the medical advice of their physicians. Prayer does not replace prescribed medications or protocol. It is an addition to it.
Clarifying my beliefs was the next step. I was not sure I believed in “God” specifically, but I did believe in a universal power greater than mankind. Personally, my God is defined more like energy (universal life force) versus a traditional human-like figure sitting on a throne up in heaven. Energy is not necessarily visible to the naked eye; however everything is made up of energy. Fortunately for me, healing prayer is based on having faith in the energy of God. God is conscious thinking, compassionate, giving energy. Humans are created in God’s image and within all of us (and outside all of us) God is everywhere. Her energy is harnessed and activated through healing prayer.
There was a wonderful experiment done by Dr. Gary Schwartz at the University of Arizona in Tucson on advances of consciousness and health. He did a study indicating the energy in the expression of Global Love focusing on the date April 29, 2011. He used a special device based in Tucson that tracks random activity of energetic electrons in the world. First, you may be wondering what was so special about the date April 29, 2011. That was the day Prince William and Kate got married. The energetic expression of global love was that of their kiss. When William and Kate stepped out onto the balcony the energy levels increased. When the remainder of the royal family stepped out onto the balcony, the energy levels increased even further. While they were standing there the energy levels stayed relatively steady until there was a slight uptick and that was when the crowd started chanting kiss kiss kiss. When Will and Kate demurely kissed, the crowd went wild as shown through the energy indicator. Then the levels dropped a bit and stayed steady. However over the next several minutes researchers noticed the uptick dramatically rose. And what do you think this correlated with? The second kiss. And for those of you who watched on TV, you know this second kiss was definitely a bit more romantic than the first. And the crowd went wild. Isn’t it truly amazing that the energy levels of this crowd all away in London were measured thousands of miles away in Tucson Arizona? Energy is global. Energy is universal. Energy is everywhere.
Another way to prove energy exists is what I like to call a simple parlor trick. Either string together a long bunch of paperclips or use a metal chain that you wear around your neck. Very loosely hold it at the tip or the end and let it dangle freely over someone’s head or body while they either sit or lay down. Hold your arm still and you will notice slowly but surely the chain will start to move. If the person has open energy and an abundance of it, the chain will start to swing wildly in a large circle. If the person’s energy is low and/or blocked, the chain might end up swinging back and forth. On rare occasions the chain does not move at all signaling the person’s energy being completely blocked.
You may be asking yourself what causes a person to have low or blocked energy. The answers vary. The person could be sick and/or have an emotional block going on. There are practitioners who do things like reiki, healing touch, and other various forms of energy healing to clear blockages in those that have them.
I believe that through meditation and/or prayer, energy can be harnessed to heal the mind and body. Many ancient cultures practice energy rituals such as Chi gong, tai chi, yoga, meditation, healing prayer, etc. that have become popular in contemporary life due to their proven positive healing effects. When you practice any of these energy rituals, you allow your subconscious mind the ability to invite change so as to gain a greater sense of self and well-being.
Most problems and negative energy stem from your thinking. What you think affects how you feel, and how you feel affects how you behave. A regular spiritual practice helps you align with your inner core energy, shifting it to a higher level. It helps calm your mind and focus on your breath, quiets inner thoughts, reduces stress and allows your truth to unveil itself. A regular spiritual practice helps connect the body and mind for optimal wellness.
Meditation literally means to think, contemplate, devise, or ponder. It is a mental practice used for the purpose of experiencing a heightened awareness within silence and relaxation; very similar to that of healing prayer. Scientists and physicians are researching the effects of meditation on the brain. Through MRI studies it has been proven that meditation positively affects the health of the brain. For example studies are showing that a regular practice of meditation provides these benefits:
- promotes deep breathing which stimulates blood flow and healing to your entire body
- aids digestion
- increases energy
- reduces stress and frequency of illness
- improves memory and brain health
- improves overall wellness
There are many types of meditation, but the true essence is the same: it involves intention, focus and deliberate breathing. In the case of healing prayer, it also includes specific invocations to recite. It also requires practice and dedication. Change does not happen overnight.
As I’ve mentioned, I have practiced healing prayer regularly for the past several years. Most recently I have combined this practice with yoga. I use the technique as a form of meditation that directs my thoughts inward energetically, helping me align my energy with that of the universe and God.
Healing prayer is guided by the notion that one does not pray to be given strength; one prays to be cured. It uses principles for guiding our healing embraced by the Christian and Jewish traditions. Both faiths maintain that when you pray, you pray as if your prayer has already been answered. And I like to add my own saying that, “Energy flows where attention goes.” So if you and God are focused on healing, you will be healed. Have faith.
I’d like to share with you that MRIs of my brain show that my MS has progressed. Yet clinically speaking, my doctor says I am the healthiest patient he has. I’m his favorite conundrum. We always discuss does he treat the picture or does he treat the patient and agree in the end he should treat the patient. Therefore I ask you to use me as living proof that healing prayer and meditation work, and give it a try if you haven’t already. It may not be a cure per say, but it does keep me healthy and I hope it does the same for you.
Rabbi Evan Moffic of Temple Solel came across a wonderful teaching from an 18th century Rabbi known as the “Kotzker Rebbe.” He taught, “Some people wear their faith like an overcoat. It keeps them warm but does little for others. Others light a fire when they live their faith. It warms them and brings light to the world.” This brings me to the concept of Tikkun Olam. This Hebrew phrase means “repairing or healing the world” which suggests our shared responsibility to heal the world. Again, if we are one with God and God is one with us, then doesn’t the same hold true for the world? I think it does in that all energy is shared. When your actions are motivated by negative thinking, aggression or anger; or you cannot tolerate life when things don’t go your own way; you create an environment that reflects your inner soul. So when you act from a place of pain, pain is what you will experience. In contrast, when you become one with your core energy; one with God; focus more on the needs of others and give back; and you live your Tikkun; you not only help heal the world, you help heal yourself because you’re shifting your inner core energy to higher levels of existence.
Being diagnosed with a chronic illness opened my soul up to the realization of how brief our time here on earth truly is and that we had better make every moment count. My journey through healing prayer, guided by Rabbi Doug, has taught me that it is okay to express my belief in the beauty of my soul and the goodness of others. My faith in God and mankind has been renewed over the years and it enhances my strength of being, my ability to live my faith, and my ability to live my Tikkun Olam.
If you wish to begin and/or track a spiritual practice, learn more in my wellness journal, Live in Wellness Now.
Be Present | Be Purposeful | Be Well
*To learn more about Rabbi Goldhamer and healing prayer, read his newest book, “Healing with God’s Love; Kabbalah’s Hidden Secrets.”