This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Power of Positive Thinking" by Norman Vincent Peale. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
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Do you believe that faith in God can cure physical ailments? How can trusting your fate in God’s hands help you restore your health and vitality?
Faith can add to medical therapies and bring about well-being if it is in God’s plan for the person to live. We all have to die sometime, but if a person trusts their life in God’s hands, there is a high chance he/she will return to a healthful state.
Here is how faith can help potentiate healing outcomes.
Healing Through Faith
According to Norman Vincent Peale, the author of The Power of Positive Thinking, faith, when understood and applied in the right manner, can be a powerful factor in overcoming health obstacles. He argues that the amazing power of faith is not used enough in healing. Faith can work miracles, but these miracles are actually the result of spiritually scientific principles.
Medicine Plus Faith Creates Healing
In discussing faith and healing, Peale references numerous stories in which faith helped to restore people’s health. In the cases of faith-enhanced healing Peale has investigated, he found certain factors to be present.
- The patient is willing to surrender their health into God’s hands.
- They let go of sin and have a sincere desire to have their soul cleansed.
- They believe in the combination of medical resources and the healing power of God.
- They are willing to accept whatever answer God has for them.
- They have an unquestioning faith that God can heal.
When he investigates these healings, Peale always waits to make sure the healing is permanent, not just a temporary improvement.
One particular case involved a woman with a malignant tumor for whom all treatments had been exhausted. She felt there was no hope for her so she turned to God, placing herself in God’s hands. Later she became aware of a bright light and a feeling of pressure on her body. She believed that healing was occuring. By the next morning her improvement was remarkable. Fifteen years later she is still healthy.
In his research, Peale found that cases involving heart attacks respond particularly well to faith. People who have experienced a heart attack who go on to practice faith in God’s healing, along with doing everything their doctors say, go on to remarkable recoveries.
They may even gain greater health because they come to understand the strain they were putting their heart under when they were ill. They learn that by surrendering yourself to God’s healing, you open your consciousness to the vitality and energy available in the universe that they had been blocking with their tension and high blood pressure.
A man had such bad heart issues he was told he could no longer work and would likely have to remain an invalid.
One morning he opened his Bible and read about the healing power of Jesus. He believed that if Jesus had the power to heal people back then, he could certainly heal people today.
He asked God to heal him, and believed it was possible. He felt a sense of rest and noticed more strength in the following days. He prayed to God, saying that if it was God’s will, he would get dressed, go outside, and even return to work. And if he were to die because of the increased activity, he thanked God for a wonderful day.
With this calm faith he increased his activity, and was able to work normally for 30 more years. During this time he diligently followed his doctor’s advice.
The doctors had been right — if he had continued his ways unchecked he would have died. Their advice brought him to a point where he could accept the healing power of God. Without his heart attack, he wouldn’t have been ready mentally or spiritually for healing.
Another friend of Peale’s who recovered from a heart attack with the help of medicine and faith developed a three-point healing formula. At first, when complete rest was called for, he was able to relax and leave himself to God’s care. He focused on Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am your God.”
Next, as the days went on, he used Psalm 27:14 as an affirmation: “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage and he shall strengthen thine heart.”
Finally, as he gained strength he felt new assurance and confidence. He used Phillippians 4:13 as an affirmation: “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.”
The medical team was able to put his body in a state where healing could be stimulated. Then his recovery was aided by faith, which stimulated his spiritual powers. These two therapies joined forces: the power of the human body to recuperate and the restorative power of the mind, as strengthened by faith.
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Here's what you'll find in our full The Power of Positive Thinking summary:
- That there is no problem or obstacle you can’t overcome with faith, positive thinking, and prayer
- The practical techniques of applied Christianity
- How to take control of the events in your life rather than be directed by them