Woman blind for 13 years healed instantly by husband's intercessory prayer, study says

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A Baptist woman diagnosed with incurable juvenile macular degeneration that left her legally blind for 13 years instantly regained her sight after her pastor husband laid hands on her and prayed for a miracle, a recent study from The Global Medical Research Institute explains.

The study of the miracle claim was conducted by Indiana University professor of psychological and brain sciences and GMRI board chair, Joshua W. Brown; Texas Tech University associate professor of ophthalmology Kenn Freedman; retired radiologist David Zaritzky; and GMRI research associate Clarrissa Romez.

The researchers were told that the unidentified woman was 18 when she lost the majority of her central vision over three months in 1959. 

But after her condition deteriorated over the next 12 years to the point that she relied on a cane and learned to read braille, she regained clear eyesight instantaneously in 1972 after receiving proximal intercessory prayer from her husband.

Based in Cleveland, Tennessee, GMRI reviews “evidenced-based testimonies from various ministries applying rigorous methods of research to show the effects of proximal intercessory prayer in the resolution of conditions that would typically have a poor prognosis otherwise.” 

Researchers at the organization are also developing randomized and controlled clinical trials of healing prayer effects.

Proximal intercessory prayer — or PIP —  refers to direct-contact prayer, which frequently involves touch by one or more persons on behalf of another. 

It is described by the researchers as a prayer that “typically lasts for less than 15 [minutes] and involves touch, often with the intercessor’s eyes open to observe results.”

The person administering the prayer typically uses “soft tones” and may offer different kinds of prayers. An example is to “petition God to heal, invite the Holy Spirit’s anointing, and/or command the healing and departure of any evil spirits in Jesus’ name.”

Researchers noted that the woman had recently completed a program to learn how to use a cane and read braille. But she claimed to have been healed by an intercessory prayer from her husband one evening before going to bed in August 1972. 

“The PIP was presented in a Christian tradition, extended to God as both asked for her eyesight to be restored that night,” the study reads. “When the couple went to bed later than normal (after midnight), her husband performed a hurried spiritual devotional practice (reading two Bible verses) and got on his knees to pray.”

According to the woman, she and her husband began to cry as he began to pray with a hand on her shoulder while she laid on the bed. 

“[W]ith great feeling and boldness he prayed: ‘Oh, God! You can restore [...] eyesight tonight, Lord. I know You can do it! And I pray You will do it tonight,’” the study explains. “At the close of the prayer, his wife opened her eyes and saw her husband kneeling in front of her, which was her first clear visual perception after almost 13 years of blindness.”

While the woman and her husband never doubted the possibility of spiritual gifts and healing in the present day, they had never previously experienced anything like that as believers before.

“The only healings we knew about were in the Bible,” the woman was quoted as saying.

Even though her husband is a pastor, she said her husband had also never prayed for anyone who experienced such a remarkable recovery before.

“In summary, the patient was blind for [13] years because of a condition that appeared to be a severe form of Stargardt’s disease,” the researchers wrote. “Following a PIP event, her vision was spontaneously restored and remains intact to date, 47 years later.”

The study states that the symptoms were “resolved” in the context of personal intercessory prayer. A notable aspect of the recovery, according to the study, is the “theological acceptance of healing prayer with specific belief recognized through the authority of Jesus.”

The study concludes that the findings from the research and others like it “warrant investment in future research to ascertain whether and how PIP experiences may play a role in apparent spontaneous resolution of lifelong conditions having otherwise no prognosis of recovery.”

According to the researchers, "research on the potential for PIP to affect the [autonomic nervous system] and/or reverse vision loss associated with JMD is limited."

“What people need to understand is ‘I was blind’, totally blind and attended the School for the Blind. I read braille and walked with a white cane," the woman was quoted as telling the researchers.

"Never had I seen my husband or daughters [sic] face. I was blind when my husband prayed for me. Then just like that, in a moment, after years of darkness, I could see perfectly! It was miraculous! My daughter’s picture was on the dresser. I could see what my little girl and husband looked like. I could see the floor, the steps. Within seconds, my life had drastically changed. I could see, I could see!” 

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