Affecting genetics through prayer?
A recent National Post article reports on groundbreaking research at McGill University. The research seems to show that physical and emotional abuse in childhood can alter the genetic code of a child. The same team has previously done other research supporting the idea that life experience can affect and alter the genes that we inherit from our parents.
While this underscores the depth of the devastation that can be caused by abuse, it also gives us concrete evidence in support of a biblical belief system. If genes are affected by life experience, we have a clue as to how a very important spiritual principle operates on human biology. We see patterns of sin becoming part of a family’s inheritance – the sins of the fathers literally being visited upon the children in their genetic code.
Although this is significant, I’m far more intrigued by the positive implications of this research. If there is an interplay between our life experience and our genes, it ought to work on both the positive and the negative side of the ledger. The insights provided by this study help us to envisage a mechanism whereby the grace of God can affect our concrete life experience. We don’t need scientific proof that the prayer of faith is powerfully effective – generations of praying believers have known it to be so – but I find it exciting when science provides supporting evidence of how the realm of emotions and relationships affects the systems that govern our physical health. If negative experiences can affect our genetic makeup, setting us up for misery and suffering, why can’t an atmosphere of faith, hope and love affect our genetic makeup as well, setting us up for vibrant wellbeing?
Of course, faith doesn’t depend on scientific proofs – but in a scientifically-oriented age, this research supports the faith perspective that our genetic code is not our predetermined fate; it is just what we start life with. The article cited above mentions other research by the same team supporting the idea that positive experiences can also affect our genetic code. Believers in Jesus know that His redeeming power affects every area of life, and that we are children of destiny, not fate. As we respond in faith to the call of God, it is possible that even our genetic code – once thought by science to be a sort of predetermined fate – can be transformed. This may offer new insight into how prayers of generational healing and blessing might operate on a physical level.
History records that during the Healing Rooms ministry of John G. Lake, the US Government declared the city of Spokane, Washington to be the healthiest city in the nation. The Acts of the Apostles similarly report that during an early period of vibrant faith, when more and more people in Jerusalem were turning to the Lord, crowds gathered in the city as people from all the surrounding towns brought their sick, and all of them were healed.
Can it be so where you and I live? I see no reason why not. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?