Prayer is Real Medicine

5 Ways Prayer Can Help You Heal

by Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Divine Love Spirituality

If you read my book Making Life Easy you know that having a spiritual practice is important to our health, happiness, and wholeness. When you put your faith in a higher power there is a constant source of healing energy available to your through the Creator (who goes by many names.) This is true whether you are religious, believe in the Law of Attraction, or have some other spiritual beliefs.

Praying is a common element of most spiritual practices and has been linked to better health and well-being. Jeff Levin, a social epidemiologist, has noted there are more than 1600 studies that show the correlation between religious and spiritual participation and health! One case study showed that prayer is effective no matter what your belief system or religion. And prayer is effective regardless of diseases or health conditions, age, sex, race or ethnicity, or nationality.

In the study, the author notes that believing in the power of your prayers may be what activates healing. He states:

The belief of the praying person in the power of the prayer itself may stimulate healing, as the placebo effect suggests. The relaxation response and the sense of self-efficacy gained through the act of praying may enhance the immune system. Despite these explanations of the mechanisms through which prayer promotes healing, there sometimes exists a facet of prayer and healing that defies rational explanation and seems to suggest the existence of a higher power.

There are certainly many cases of “spontaneous healing” where the existence of a higher power is the only explanation. Anita Moorjani’s inspirational story is just one that comes to mind.

How Regular “Prayer Sessions” Can Improve Your Health

Prayer is like vitamin D for your soul. A little works well, but it’s even more effective when it builds up in your system. When you pray out loud, the sound of your prayer resonates throughout your body. But even silent or contemplative prayers have positive benefits.

Prayers may be directed (e.g., prayers for specific things, petition prayers) or general with no specific outcome in mind. You can pray for yourself or offer intercessory “distant” prayers for others.

A 2015 systematic review of randomized controlled studies showed that prayer (whether petition or intercessory) consistently helped patients cope in times of illness and crisis. Other studies have shown prayer is effective in helping to increase conception rates among infertile couples and reduce ICU stays for heart attack patients. Other studies have shown prayer to be beneficial for HIV, cancer, anxiety and depression, cardiovascular disease and surgery, rheumatic disease, and more.

In general, there is nothing that isn’t helped by prayer. And it doesn’t matter what type of prayers you use. What matters is your sincere desire to connect with the Divine.

5 Ways Prayer Can Help You Heal

  1. Elicits the Relaxation Response. The relaxation response described by Herbert Benson, M.D. over 40 years ago is the physiologic opposite of the fight-or-flight response. A 2015 report showed that when the relaxation response is induced the health effects include lower blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen consumption. This is associated with feelings of reduced stress and anxiety. The report also showed that participants needed fewer health care services during the following year. Part of the reason prayer creates a relaxation response is that it allows you to release control to something greater than yourself.
  1. Produces endorphins. People who sing their prayers have decreased the levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and increased the level of oxytocin, which promotes the release of endorphins. This may be why gospel choir singers are often in a state of elation. Higher levels of endorphins brought on by singing can also help to reduce stress and improve your pain threshold. Singing your prayers before you go to sleep may help increase the production of melatonin in your pineal gland, which helps regulate many bodily functions and can improve risk factors for severe COVID-19, such as high blood pressure, insulin resistance and diabetes, and may inhibit a cytokine storm. If you’re not into singing, try humming hymns of prayer. Humming increases nitric oxide levels in your sinuses, which in turn decreases inflammation in the respiratory tract.
  1. Make you feel gratitude. Feelings of gratitude, hope, and compassion have been shown to increase physical healing and wellness. In addition, to counteracting stress and cortisol, people who feel grateful are often more alert, enthusiastic, and have more energy which contributes to feelings of wellness.
  1. Invokes the Law of Attraction. When you have a positive attitude, you raise your vibration. This helps attract the things that you want. Saying prayers out loud raises your vibration and the vibrational patterns around you, which just might help you manifest your dreams or desires, including the desire for improved health.
  1. Helps you cope better. People who pray tend to have more hope. This comes from having a connection to a loving spiritual presence, as well a connection to others in their faith community. People who have hope experience fewer episodes of depression and anxiety, and in general are able to cope better with health setbacks and respond better to medical treatments.

How to Use Prayer to Heal

There are so many ways to use prayer to heal your body, mind, and spirit. Here are a few that may resonate with you.

  1. Stick with tradition. If you are religious, then use the prayers that you are familiar with and say regularly. You can direct your prayers toward healing a specific ailment. You can ask a specific divine being for healing. And you can use the prayers you like to pray for healing of others.
  2. State affirmations. Affirmations are a beautiful way to connect to the Divine. Your affirmations can be specific to what you want to heal, or they can be more like mantras to help affirm something you want. For example, saying “I am healthy. I am whole” may be all you need to create the connection with Divine healing energy.
  3. Use Divine love petition. My friend Robert Fritchie, founder of the World Service Institute, teaches people how to use Divine Love Petitions to connect directly to Source and heal. You can learn more and watch a free video on how to use the petitions at his website.
  4. Create your own prayer ritual. No matter how you ask for assistance, the most important thing is that you commit to connecting with the Divine. Whether you create a prayer ritual using props, pray in specific location or at a designated time, wear certain clothing, or simply take time each day to talk with your higher power. Be sure to focus on your intentions. Be specific about what you want to experience when connecting with your divinity.
  5. Use Envisioning Prayer. A couple of years ago I participated in an Envisioning Event with Gene Decode and others. At the end of the event, we each shared our Envisioning Prayer. I recently posted my Envisioning Prayer on my True North Substack where you can read it in its entirety. While all prayer is about developing a relationship with the Divine, Envisioning Prayers help bring structure to what you are asking God to help with. For example, in my Envisioning Prayer I prayed that women labor and birth pleasurably and safely while being fully supported by their communities. When creating your own Envisioning Prayer, simply picture what you are praying for as if it is happening in that moment. You can also pray as if what you are envisioning already exists—even if it hasn’t happened yet. It’s just another way to present your requests to God.

Have you experienced healing through prayer? Please share your stories.

Last Updated: April 2, 2024

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., is a visionary pioneer and a leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. Recognizing the unity of body, mind, and spirit, she empowers women to trust their inner wisdom, their connection with Source, and their ability to truly flourish.


Add comment
  1. Claudia E. Darbie
    1 month ago

    Hi Dr. Northrup: I have been reading your work so long, I cannot imagine my Life without it! I read my Health Wisdom everyday and practice your holistic way of being in health.

  2. Julia Tully
    2 months ago

    Prayer is powerful and prayer works! God hears our cries and wants to give good gifts to His children. Trust God and pray!

  3. Margot
    11 months ago

    Love you angel, dr. Northrup . You bring more light and relief to my ‘ troubled ‘ soul as understanding and feeling more reality of energy vampires in our families, particularly my narcissistic mother. I’m almost 50 ( don’t feel my age) and still letting go of the fact of what she plays and how I need to accept what it is. Much love and kisses for you ⭐️

  4. Micki
    3 years ago

    I love the design and feeling of your website. It feels kind and gentle here. I agree about praying. Have a blessed and wonderful day. Thank you for all you do and share. You’re amazing❣️

  5. Barbara
    3 years ago

    I recently stopped taking bio identical and started taking Amata. I get a headache each day and was wondering if this is a response to hormone imbalance at this time? Thank you in advance.

  6. Dee
    3 years ago

    Dr. Northrop if they mandate Covid vaccines what can we use to counteract them and detox our bodies.

  7. Jean Finch
    3 years ago

    I just wanted to send doc a love note! I saw her recently and she said that she had received hate mail because of her stand on the big Cov ! I am a complete fan! You are my inspiration!

  8. Tina
    3 years ago

    Love this post! Thank you, Dr. Northrup! This is critical for the days we are living in! I believe prayer is going to become even more important as access to physical resources becomes more restricted.
    Yes, I have experienced several healings through Prayer. I was divinely healed from migraines 20+ years ago. I have also been used by God to be a vessel of healing for others. The most dramatic was seeing a blind woman’s sight restored after praying for her! Glory to God!
    Blessings on you for your continued health and wholeness!

  9. Julie
    3 years ago

    Prayer may not change things for you, but it sure changes you for things. ~ Samuel Shoemaker
    I talk to God directly, ask Him questions, and I always get an answer. When my mother was still alive, I remember her asking me why she had to suffer so much. I asked God and the answer I received was “Tell her it’s helping Joe (my brother).” He had stopped going to church, and just by coincidence, ran into a man at a used car lot that had a rosary in his car. They talked awhile about their faith life, and he convinced Joe to go back to church.

  10. Julia Hubbard Tully
    3 years ago

    God hears the cries of his people. ️

  11. Linda Hall
    3 years ago

    I’ve been a fan for years starting with reading your thoughts on hypertension and medications about 6-7 years ago. I still have a copy of the parameters you gave for the older person. I finally found a cardiologist who somewhat agreed!
    This is a beautiful blog on the power of prayer, spirituality and on the Divine Higher Power who I call God! Love the examples for those who might question how to pray. Keep on helping us and thank you!

  12. Karen
    3 years ago

    I know I have to develop a prayer routine I was brought up in the church but the traditional practices I don’t agree with. I am a more spiritual person than a religious one. Thank you for bringing this up I was already praying I realized I have to pray to get through these tumultuous time.


    Karen in Canada

  13. MJ Uecker
    3 years ago

    I agree with Christine from Canada. I’ve been a big fan for years and continue to follow you Dr. Northrop. We met many years ago when I lived in Maine. Thank you for all your wise information. MAKE a great dayMJ

  14. christine clements
    3 years ago


    1. Deborah Graham
      3 years ago

      Go online and you can find sites in India or elsewhere that will snail mail it to you. It is expensive compared to the price of the drug used as an anti parasitic. We follow the FLCCC’s recommendation and have been since last year. Get some! Proven to be effective in multiple countries.

  15. Mary Barrett
    3 years ago

    I have such gratitude for you in my life! Thank you, Christiane!

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