In contrast, a multi-factorial approach to healing and wholeness affirms that the interplay of God and our prayers and faith make a difference, but not the only difference, in our spiritual lives and health outcomes. I have been part of moments of physical and spiritual transformation as a result of ritual practices such as laying on hands, reiki healing treatments, and intercessory prayer. I have also experienced many times when, at least in my estimation, my prayers and the prayers of others were not answered.
While I don't know all the details of answered and unanswered prayer, I continue to pray for healing and transformation because I believe that my prayers are woven together in the dynamic and multi-factorial fabric of life to bring wholeness to those for whom I pray. Neither our prayers nor God is omnipotent, or all-determining, but together we make a difference in the well-being of others, which may, at times, lead to a "quantum leap" in energy that transforms the cells of our bodies or alleviates significant pain. This is neither magic nor manipulation but openness to the healing energies resident in the universe and the universal movement toward health, inspired by God's presence. This doesn't guarantee that cures will occur; but affirms that when there cannot be a cure (a cessation of symptoms or remission of illness), our prayers can be part of God's healing process that enables persons to experience peace in disability and death.
Bruce Epperly is Professor of Practical Theology and Director of Continuing Education and co-pastor of Disciples United Community Church (www.ducc.us) in Lancaster, PA. He is the author of sixteen books, including Holy Adventure: 41 Days of Audacious Living and Tending to the Holy: The Practice of the Presence of God in Ministry (with Katherine Epperly). He may be contacted at email@example.com or www.bruceepperly.com.