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There have been so many countless people hurt, both physically and mentally, by the belief that prayer can heal. It can cause lasting emotional damage and also lead people to blame themselves when it turns out to be ineffective.

big-questions
The Big Questions (BBC)

Recently on the BBC’s ‘The Big Questions’ they posed the question ‘can illness be cured by prayer?’

While it is easy to put down the question as idiotic, and condemn it to the same place as other stupid questions like when in 2009 when BBC News’s ‘Have Your Say’ asked: “Should homosexuals be executed?” I think this it is important to offer a reaction.

beyondpositive‘s reply was: “We’ve seen too many people living with HIV hurt or even killed by religious doctrine telling them to swap their meds for prayer.”

There have been so many countless people hurt, both physically and mentally, by the belief that prayer can heal. It can cause lasting emotional damage and also lead people to blame themselves when it turns out to be ineffective.

I would like to share my story with you on this subject. At one of the hardest and lowest points of my life I was pushed into this kind of thinking. At the least, I hope to add to the ongoing debate, and that people will realise actually how common this is and the real damage that can be done by relying on faith and throwing out life-saving treatment.

A month after I was diagnosed with HIV I went along to Christian festival with my local church youth group. It was a hard week for me because the main focus of the week seemed to be on people being healed by prayer. There were lots of stories of how people had been healed of their illnesses with the ‘power of prayer and faith.’ One evening I was encouraged to go and talk to one of the senior leaders of the festival about how I was feeling and my health situation, I was so scared as at this point I had only trusted that information to a handful of people.

He told me that if I had enough faith then God would cure me of my HIV because nothing was too big for him. He prayed for me for about 15 minutes and told me to have faith. He left me feeling so much better about my situation. With that ringing in my ears for months I was reluctant to go back to the clinic for blood tests or to receive treatment. I believed whole-heartedly that I had been cured and had nothing to worry about. I thought, surely if God had cured these other people of their illnesses then surely he would also cure me. Being a Christian at the time I felt that God was all I needed and that medication was just a waste of time and money.

When I finally plucked up the courage to go and find my nearest clinic I was convinced that I was cured and had nothing to worry about. Well this was not the case. My health was deteriorating, with my viral load being high and my CD4
count being low. I was heartbroken. All the faith and prayer had not worked. Everything I believed and everything I had tried was worthless, I felt let down and grew to believe that I hadn’t been cured because I hadn’t prayed enough or had enough faith. I even thought that maybe God could heal me and he had chosen not to cure me because I had contracted HIV and it was my fault and not his. As you can imagine it was devastating and completely screwed with my head. This had a massive impact on my faith and even though outwardly I didn’t show it, inside I was devastated and it crushed the belief that I had.

Looking back now I know that what I did to my body by not taking my meds and avoiding getting treatment could have had very severe consequences in the long term. I was so foolish to think I could be cured this way.

Doctor Christian Jessen
Doctor Christian Jessen

Last week I watched Dr Christian Jessen’s programme on gay cures. It was nothing but torture. It brought back so many memories of the past but also brought home the realisation that so many people out there still think that prayer is the answer and we still have a long way to go in stopping this kind of thinking.

Two years ago the president of Gambia claimed that he had found a natural remedy, and that he had cured 68 people of HIV. Medical professionals around the world were up in arms, understandably, at the false hope given to people living with HIV.

Gambia's President Al Hadji Yahya Jammeh claimed he had a herbal cure for HIV/AIDS
Gambia’s President Al Hadji Yahya Jammeh claimed he had a herbal cure for HIV/AIDS

A year before, an undercover Sky News investigation linked at least six deaths in the UK to evangelical churches up and down the country which had been telling worshippers could heal them of HIV.

Convincing people that prayer and faith are the answer to curing illness is unbelievably dangerous and can have lasting mental and physical implications. It is irresponsible of the BBC to ask questions like ‘can prayer cure illnesses?’, as merely posing a question perpetuates the idea through false hope. More needs to be done to open people’s eyes to the reality of these kinds of beliefs, for them to know that this kind of thinking and behaviour is still very active in current society and for people everywhere to realise the severity of it.

The last thing I would want is to give the impression that I am anti-religion. There is no doubt that religion can give people a support network and something to believe in but it cannot be a substitute for treatment. People need to see the harm that can be done.

Having HIV is a huge deal, I have struggled with it for almost six years now and I couldn’t have got to where I am now without the amazing support of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals that have helped me a long the way.

Some days I do wish that God did exist and that he could cure me, but I know it is more fantasy than reality. I do however have faith and hope that one day medical research will find the cure for HIV and that in the mean time we can reduce the stigma attached to it.

James (@positivejamesh on twitter)

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17 COMMENTS

  1. My friend went through a spiritual phase, and thought for a while that god would save him, when he attended at the clinic, he told the consultant ‘I’m not having any more meds, gods saving me’ to which the consultant quickly replied ‘god sent me to save you’, my friend left the clinic with his medication,

  2. The Dr’s point of view is super. ‘He was sent to. save him’.
    -Let’s pray for docs to do better
    -Let’s make sure that they handled well and respected and
    Continue to treat faith healing paste.

    GOD BLESS

  3. The guy had his faith in God. God was working on him. When he went to the clinic believing he was cure and got the results he wasn’t hoping for he doubted in God. God didn’t fail him, he fail God. God tested his faith but he fail, but god hasn’t giving up on him. Once you accept Christ in your heart as your only savior, you’re his property now. (Mark 11:22-24) “So Jesus answered and said to them, Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does NOT doubt in his HEART, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.” “Therefore I say to you whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” Don’t loose your faith, if you get a bit of doubt pray to god to strengthen your faith. Don’t forget that God is bigger than all of your problems. God Bless you brothers and sisters.

  4. i agree with you Rafael the bible says that faith is the substance of the things hoped for,and the evidence of the things not seen.u need more revelation of God words.faith never gives up,dont be moved by what you hear,what you feel or see,dont let your condition change your confession.remember that your life is shaped by your thoughts,keep studying and meditating on the word of God.Jodhua 1:8 “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success”.
    God is trying to give you mentality,until you have a winning mentality you will never receive your healing.No matter what you are experiencing dont change your confessions because your thoughts control your words and your words controls your actions and your actions will determine your destiny.the bible says Guide your heart will all deligence coz out of it are issues of life,so dont let dat sickness to take over your heart.all things works together either good or bad.dont be like those in your neighbour hood tell yourself that you are different keep that vision infront of you and meditate on the word of God day and night,dont only study the word but meditate on it so it will go deep downn in your spirit.if you talk it long enough it will change your attitude,your character and your life style.use your mouth to claim your healing,coz it can bring blessings and cursings talk wat you want to see,dont let that medication to take your faith away from God.Remember dat faith never gives up no matter what.

  5. your mouth can bring curses or blessing thats what im trying to say,so keep planting good seeds with your mouth,the bible says that through knowledge may the just be delivered.problems comes to you knowing that you have the solution.

  6. powerful Nozee..God created everything out of nothing…nothing is impossible for the One Who created everything..All we have to do is to blive and do His will and everything will be the way we pray it to be.

  7. I don’t understand either. I’ve seen people literally healed by God, a straight up miracle, and I’ve seen others with the same trust in God and so much faith, quickly diminish and die. I ask God why some not others. And often question, why now me? Is this it for me. And God doesn’t give me answers or reasons, he just holds me. And then reminds me, this earth is not my home. I go to prepare a place for you… And return for you. He reminds me, God didn’t even save his own Son Jesus, from dying. Jesus cried tears of blood asking for another way, but submitted to God saying, not my will, but thine. I don’t want to die. But I will, if not this then something else, but for the time I’m given on this temp world, I will live it with hope, continue prayer for strength and peace, Gods peace which surpasses all understanding. Cause honestly, I don’t understand any of this! But May God give me peace in the storm, through this journey, and if God heals me, Praise God! And if he doesn’t, praise God. May his praises continually be from my mouth

    • oh dear some encouraging words, God is faithful, and nothing is difficult when we trust in Him.

  8. I believe dat God is going 2 change ma life n heal ma sickness in jesus name,,,,,de way he healed de ten leapers in de chrch gate,,,who am i,,de faith dat ave built wil heal me,,,,those who laugh at me wunt lagh again in jesus name,,,,help me in prayers too.

  9. Yes, i agree with out doubt that God can cure all sicknesses including HIV. Hoewver, as Christians we should beware that Aids is a global problem and ha adverse social impact on family, economy and society especially in the african context.
    Besides, we should also be ready to realise that there is completely NO medical cure that is known.
    At the same time, we should also understand how it spreads and the trauma and fear it causes in most individuals.
    Lastly, we should also not forget to know that its only through scientific means we can prove that one has the virus and also not forget that its also only through scienfitifc means that we can prove one is now cured.
    Since there has been NO scientific agreement to prove that one has been cured of the HIV, therefore, we should be careful in declaring that one is healed in this regard.WHY?
    In my view, declaring that one is cured has far reaching impact on the health of that person and the society. HOW?
    iwill answer this in form of questions:
    1. Supposing at one point, the virus surfaces again because every one is so far aware of hibernation?
    2. Can one reverse the impact this will have caused to the one carrying the virus?
    3. having declared one cured of the virus, will mean that this person is free to marry and bear children? can we assess the impact this may cause in case at some point it appears that the virus did not disappear fro the blood?
    4. in the face of africa where people are ingorant and poor, such ideas should be handled with utmost care.
    although God can cure HIV, we cannot actually tell the time one is actually healed, a reason why we should be careful because this comes with impact. One may stop taking medicine, one may infect others, one persons case of healing may blindfold the others and now evrybody will think will be healed. to avoid all this, we should all agree and spread the gospel that PRAYERS DONT CONFLICT WITH MEDICINE AND THE REVERSE IS TRUE. one should continue doing both until God himself will heal.
    gabriel-Evangelist Kampala Uganda.

  10. I fully agree with Gabriel. Well said evangelist. Everything on earth is controlled by God. I also believe that miracles still happen in our present day.

  11. The problem with all people they want God to work on them like He did for someone else. There are people who got healed on the go and there are whose God prepared for. That can take days, weeks,months even years. God his a God of facts. When you got tested then it turns out you still positive keep on believing and praying God doesn’t lie, He preparing you for better! You can’t quit your medication just like that without proof. When Jesus does something, He will give you proof of it and will make sure that others(doctors and staff) to see His wonders. God loves you that is why he said: Now you healed don’t go back to where you were( your old life) by fear of worst for you that what He means in the Book of Matthew. Because when you healed by Jesus the devil will be after you (your soul). How many just want to be healed then go back to their life of sin? God loves you more than you think and doesn’t want the worst for you! Christianity is a mind changing to overcome devil’s traps. Have you ever think about that?

  12. thanks yall for the comments. i’ve been feeling feverish for a couple of days now,my lymph nodes are all swollen as well. i’ve got difficulty breathing and swallowing,too. think i may have contacted a virus,possibly HIV etc. though i haven’t gone for a any test yet,ma doctor only said t’s an ‘inflammation’,he gave me some pills and a gel-like cream to rub for the main time and asked me to come back in a week time if symptom persist. i have been praying lately and askin’ God for a change,i also made a vow to serve him the rest of my life if he changes ma medical status/results. i stronger believe he’s capable of handling just any problem. i see my current situation to God’s way of re-directing my path to a more godly and holy way,cos had it i hadn’t fell sick,i’d still be living in sin.. but thank God it happened this way,he knows the best after all. my only prayer is fo’ him to strength my faith and change my orientation about life.

  13. Friends, I am not against medication but I believe so much that both healing through medication or prayer both are still God showing us mercy & revealing His greatness. Pls never doubt God and dont give up on His love and abilities over any situation. God still heals today, friends just trust Him by his stripes you are healed. I command the death of HIV virus in your blood and flush out every cancer in Jesus mighty name.

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