When I was a young man I started a pilgrimage, a journey for truth and purpose in this life. At one point I was involved with a metaphysical group that believed there was more to human life than what was obvious. I studied their teachings for some time and one of the intriguing ideas was that “thoughts have wings.” We exist apart from our bodies and our thoughts and expressions can live apart from us.
“I hold it true that thoughts are things
Endowed with bodies, breath, and wings,
And that we send them forth to fill
The world with good results – or ill.” Ella Wheeler Wilcox
At a research institute a study was done to try to determine if thoughts indeed had an effect on another person. In brief, here’s what they found:
“After running 36 couples through this test, the researchers found that when one person focused his thoughts on his partner, the partner’s blood flow and perspiration dramatically changed within two seconds. The odds of this happening by chance were 1 in 11,000. Three dozen double blind, randomized studies by such institutions as the University of Washington and the University of Edinburgh have reported similar results.” NPR, 5/2009, The Science of Spirituality
They called this a case of “quantum entanglement” and the immediate response from the physicist community is summed up by this:
“Physicists are very clear that the relationship is purely correlational and not causal,” Sloan says. “There is nothing causal about quantum entanglement. It’s good to be open-minded, but not so open-minded that your brains fall out.”
A little harsh, but what is the truth? Is it worth your time to have good thoughts about someone else’s situation? If you know someone is sick or in need or hurt is it beneficial to send them “thoughts and prayers?”
My pilgrimage among the metaphysical and the astrological and the mystical ways of thought ultimately led me to Christianity. It was there I realized that, indeed, there is more going on then meets the eye. There is a whole universe full of something. Alive with activity, buzzing with energy. From the Bible I learned this important fact for this discussion:
“For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” Colossians 1:16
It turns out there is a spiritual dimension. And the instruction on how to reach it was made clear and simple:
“Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,” Luke 18:1
What’s the difference between thoughts and prayers? If our thoughts are floating out there already, what is prayer? Is it okay to send good thoughts, positive vibes, or other emotional support? Should we pray?
In recent times “thoughts and prayers” has come under attack. Something happens, officials promise their thoughts and prayers, the other side screams they should do something instead. But, in all fairness, I am geographically removed from, say, an earthquake. And, in the process of my “thoughts and prayers” I may find a way to help or at least be motivated to contribute. Thoughts and prayers may, or may not, have a direct impact on a situation (depending on your personal worldview) but it never hurts to spend a few seconds or minutes focusing your energy on that problem. Where is the harm? You are now fully aware of the problem and have considered it.
“Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t—not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again.” James 5:16-18
The bottom line, to me, is this and I offer my own situation for the math. I have 616 friends on Facebook, including family members. My wife has 1,033. The average Facebook account has 338. So if I, or maybe better (numerically) my wife, reach out with a need, say, Kenny-is-in-MICU-near-death-and-they-don’t-know-what-it-is-so-please-pray, the numbers are staggering. Good research shows that 55% of Americans pray every day. That means that out of her 1,033 friends, maybe 568 will pray. But wait – there’s more! What if the 1,033 shared to their average 338 friends? Now there are a potential 349,154 folks alerted and maybe 192,034 will actually pray. It’s a pyramid scheme in reverse, and whether thoughts have wings or God hears their prayers (my money is on God) that’s a lot of prayer, thoughts, vibes, energy being expended.
Yes, problems need resolutions. I am glad I had good doctors and staff to take care of me. I am glad that medical science was standing by with good equipment and processes. But I am more thrilled, touched, moved that so many people took a few seconds to send out “thoughts and prayers.” As a matter of fact, I am quite sure that most, if not all, of the doctors and nurses and CNAs were in that chain of prayer, even as they used the science and equipment and resources to help save my life.
Let the naysayers say nay. I am sad that they are disconnected from the universe, but you know what? No one can stop you from praying, from sending thoughts and vibes and energy, their way. Metaphysics, religion and science all agree that there is more to this whole thing than we can understand. So just keep on praying, because I believe God is listening.
“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” 1 John 5:14
Thoughts and prayers? Yes, please!