“Dear friend,” writes John to Gaius, “I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well” (3 John 2). In John’s perspective, four blessings—friendship, prayer, physical health and spiritual health—are wrapped up together.

When we come into a crisis of illness or injury, we turn to God in prayer. But do you appreciate the value of prayer to health in the course of a normal day?

Dozens of studies in the last decade or so indicate that, overall, people who pray and worship enjoy better health than those who do not. Believers appear less likely to get diseases, and more likely to recover quickly after surgery. The vast majority of physicians believe that faith and prayer can play powerful roles in healing for their patients.

Prayer and  worship are good for our health because they directly impact the issues that threaten our health—issues like anxiety, addiction, isolation, guilt, hopelessness, self-absorption, carelessness and neglect.

Prayer is a powerful relaxation response, decreasing blood pressure, metabolism, heart  rate and breathing rate. It’s more than a matter of mouthing words. Research indicates the benefit is higher when the person has real faith in God. A praying Christian understands creation and destiny, respects the body, develops meaningful relationships and becomes active for God.

Do praying people get sick? Of course! Just as they have accidents. The ultimate death rate for praying people is the same as for non-praying people—100 percent. But prayer can have profound effects on the timing of our death and the manner of our death—and more importantly, on the quality of each day we live.

When I rise in the morning and begin my day with prayer, a course is charted for the day that is more hopeful, trusting, peaceful and fulfilled than otherwise. Returning to prayer many times through the day, I find refreshment directly from heaven. How could this be anything other than beneficial for my health?

When stresses arrive—frustration, impatience, temptation, disappointment, insecurity, criticism, anger—I find a resource that is free and powerful. Too often, I fail to come quickly enough to my heavenly resource.

This is the everyday experience. Now, what about our crises of illnesses or injuries? Divine healing was prominent in Christ’s ministry and is strongly taught in Scripture. “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who satisfies your desires with good things so your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:2-5.

There are people who misconstrue miraculous healing and make it appear like a vaudeville show. But we must not let such excesses spoil the genuine blessing.

God heals the believer—sometimes immediately, more often over time, and always at the resurrection.

While we ask in faith, we do not dictate to God the manner or timing of our healing. If healing is immediate, we praise Him. It it’s over the course of time, we praise Him. If we wait until resurrection, we praise Him.

It’s been well said that “sometimes it take more faith not to be healed.” History’s saints (like John the baptizer) who have suffered and died in their crises were no less loved by God, nor was their faith necessarily weak. One day, the great Healer will make all things new and present us with the full flower of creative health—not for a lifetime, but for eternity.

Re-published from OUTLOOK magazine archives. At the time of this writing, author Ed Gallagher was the Rocky Mountain Conference regional leader for prayer and revival.