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FOX Medical Team

Can prayer bring healing?

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ATLANTA -

On Facebook, there are a growing number of prayer pages, asking you to pray for people going through a medical crisis. Can prayer really bring healing?

Prayer is such a personal, intangible, sacred thing, that it's hard to pin it down scientifically and say whether it works, or it doesn't work. Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite chaplain Michael Gross says he sees the power of prayer every day in families who have nothing but faith to keep them going.

Gross works in the quiet neonatal intensive care unit, a place where hope is sometimes in short supply.

"But my belief is that God is with us.  And when challenging times come, it's like a cloud around us, and we can't see, beyond, beyond our nose," said Gross.

Gross believes that's when prayer is most powerful. A Facebook page for Tripp Halstead, a 3-year-old battling back from a severe brain injury caused by a falling tree branch, has nearly a quarter of a million followers and thousands of people who leave comments, praying for Tripp's healing.

Gross says these digital prayer-chains help families feel less isolated.

"Sometimes the world can feel very small.  And as people get on the internet and share with each other and pray for each other, I think the world becomes bigger, and they feel part of a bigger, caring community," said Gross. "And sometimes it's just the energy to make it through the next few minutes, or the next few hours."

Can praying really make a difference? A dozen studies have come up with conflicting answers. Some research found people who are prayed for recover faster. Others found prayer has no effect at all on a person's health.

Gross says about 75 percent of his patient families pray. He says it's hard to scientifically measure something that's sacred.

"Part of it is prayer is mystery. It's believing that God is present, that God cares enough about us to be with us, even in our toughest moments that we're not going to be abandoned," said Gross.

Gross believes prayer can help us make sense when life doesn't make sense.

"And I think in those moments, prayer helps us come to peace, to embrace what is happening.  And sometimes, and for many parents, prayer becomes a way of struggling with God to come to understanding about why this is happening to my child at this time," said Gross.

Surveys show that anywhere from 50 to 90 percent of Americans say they pray on a regular basis. You can join the conversation about prayer and healing on Beth Galvin's Facebook page.

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