Sunday, January 3, 2016

Prayer and Medicine

Fr. Dale Matson

I had a basal cell carcinoma removed from my face this week. It was just below my eye. One parishioner said to me last Sunday, “Why don’t you just have the ladies pray over it and you won’t have to have surgery?” I do believe that God can chose to heal us miraculously through prayer but I also believe God was leading me in another direction.

Sharon noticed that I had a growth under my left eye and because it didn’t hurt or itch, I was slow to go to the dermatologist. When he called me with the pathology report, he said he was referring me to a MOHs specialist. They are surgeons who specialize in the removal of cancerous tissue. In the meantime however I did alert the DOHC ladies about the situation and asked for their prayers. I was concerned that the cancer was very close to my only good eye. You see, I have glaucoma also and am almost blind in my other eye.

During the surgery I was under only a local anesthetic and could converse with my surgeon. I told her that the Daughters of the Holy Cross from our church were praying for me. They were praying for her also. I said that some were probably praying for her hands. She expressed her gratitude for the prayers. After two trips into surgery the pathology report eventually came back clear. She sewed me up and covered my eye with a patch and bandages. It was difficult for the first 48 hours since I only could see out of my eye affected by glaucoma. It was a time of darkness and frustration. Even though the bandages and eye patch came off 48 hours later my vision was poor because of the swelling and stitches.I will be getting my stitches out tomorrow.

There are some Christians who believe that seeking medical attention is demonstrating a lack of faith in God but it is God who leads many people into the medical profession. My Aunt was a Christian Scientist who did not believe in diseases or doctors. Because her high blood pressure went untreated, she died of a stroke in her early 50’s.

We have a number of people in our congregation who are doctors, nurses, counselors and physical therapists. St. Luke, who wrote both the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts, was a physician. What I am saying is that every Christian’s treatment plan should include prayer. Sometimes it is prayer alone. Sometimes it is surgery, sometimes medication, sometimes it is lifestyle changes that include diet and exercise and sometimes life events require spiritual intervention where a priest pronounces absolution to the penitent sinner.

Sometimes it is preventative maintenance through regular attendance at mass where we hear the Glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ and receive His body and blood. As the priest states in the Great Thanksgiving, “Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be for your people the Body and Blood of your Son, the holy food and drink of new and unending life in him.” As Martin Luther stated in his large Catechism,


“But those who feel their weakness, who are anxious to be rid of it and desire help, should regard and use the sacrament [of the altar] as a precious antidote against the poison of their systems. For here in the sacrament you are to receive from Christ’s lips the forgiveness of sins, which contains and brings with it God’s grace and Spirit with all his gifts, protection, defense and power against death, the devil and every trouble.”

Prayer and medicine are complementary not mutually exclusive. 

1 comment:

underground pewster said...

I know many physicians who were led into the field of medicine by the Lord. He places us where He does for a reason, so there should be no shame in seeking medical attention from another human being.