All We Can Do Is Pray


Reggie has told the story of an old Ben Casey T.V. program in which Dr. Casey comes out of surgery and tells the distraught parents of a child he has just performed surgery on that “we have done all that we can do, it’s now out of our hands.”  As I remember it, the point Reggie was making was that nobody called Ben Casey or modern medicine quackery because they believed that there was something greater than the educated mind of man that was responsible for the ultimate healing of the small child, or anyone else for that matter.  Further, nobody called Ben Casey a religious fanatic because he inferred that the “something greater” was God.  Yet some in our profession claim that we are making a religion out of chiropractic by acknowledging an innate intelligence that is responsible for the healing of the living human being.

 There is another point to be made – what I think is an important point.  Reggie probably made it; I just don’t remember the exact talk.  That is the difference between chiropractors and the Dr. Caseys of this world.  They want to leave the process of restoring life and health to the human organism by allowing better innate expression after they have done all that they can with their educated mind.  The chiropractor wants to do it before intervening in the process with someone’s finite educated mind.  Of course, that was all before Reggie led many of us out of the “Chiropractic First, Medicine Second, Surgery Last” model of chiropractic and into a non-therapeutic model.  Unfortunately he apparently didn’t lead all of us out.  Those of us who followed his lead and that of others realized that correcting vertebral subluxations did not involve a service that made it superior to or take precedence over medicine but that it was a different ballgame and the “correction of vertebral subluxations to enable the innate intelligence of the body to be more fully expressed” could stand alone as a valuable and necessary service apart from any presence or absence of a medical condition.

 For some “all we can do is pray” is an admission of reaching the end of our rope of having tried everything possible and now that there’s nothing else we can do “let’s put the situation in God’s hands.”  Imagine if Ben Casey had suggested that and then he and the worried parents got down on their knees in the hospital waiting room!  I’m sure the medical consultants for the show would have freaked out, as well as the drug sponsors and writers who desired to lift  medical doctors up to god-like status.  In the Christian faith, prayer is not meant to get you out of a bad situation.  It’s meant to get you through every situation, to utilize the power to enable you to handle every circumstance in life, not just the ones we want to get out of or want to avoid.

 For some of us chiropractors we offer our service like some people use prayer, as a last resort when all else has failed.  For some of us we want to promote it as a superior method of getting what we want, like getting well of medical conditions.  Imagine if people viewed prayer and chiropractic not in the above light, not as a means of escaping something unpleasant or as a last resort when all else has failed, or before trying something else, but as an important, necessary, and valuable part of our daily life.  What a better world this would be on many fronts.

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This article has 22 comments

  1. Jim Peck 03/23/2012, 11:58 pm:

    Beautifully stated!

  2. Paulo Henrique Sugimoto 03/24/2012, 12:22 am:

    well said!

  3. WILLIAM HOLLENSED 03/24/2012, 4:12 am:

    There are a number of studies on the effects of prayer on healing. Some of them scare me since the authors make faith and prayer in anything OK.

    Like chiropractic which can be done wrongly, faith can be misguided.

    I join you in wishing both were not last resorts.

    • eric seiler 03/24/2012, 4:13 pm:


      In the Books of Matthew and Luke you can find verses that admonish us to ask the Lord for whatever it is that is in our hearts. Yet you say that somehow “faith and prayer in anything” is not OK.
      Could you explain?

      • JStraussDC 03/26/2012, 6:31 pm:

        Eric, if I can presume to answer for Dr. Hollensed, I think he was referring to studies that have shown that prayer and faith have positive physiological effects on the body, not because of a supernatural response but because those rthings change body physiology, just as certain eastern forms of meditation do. In other words it is not who or what your prayers are directed to or what your faith is in but the very act in and of themselves are enough to change body physiology. Often this position is taken by naturalists and atheists who want to discredit systems of belief. I am sure Dr. Hollensed, as president of the CCA would reject that idea as do I. Since you quoted from the Christian Bible, I assume you agree that it is Who you pray to that matters but your point was that we should pray aboutallmatters, so I agree with your point also. What those Dr. Hollensed was referring to are saying, it is not the object of your faith or the One to whom you are praying that is important, that in fact it does not matter, it is the mere act that is important (or the mental attitude in the case of faith).

        • eric seiler 03/27/2012, 1:45 am:



          I think we are on the same page here for the most part…with possibly one fundamental exception. Are you suggesting that prayer has no supernatural effect across the board in healing? Your suggestion that this is a “biology of belief” phenomenon is certainly arguable in cases where people pray for their own needs or know they are being prayed for by others. But what about situations where the ill are being prayed for without their knowledge? See these two abstracts I will paste below:
          <<<The most frequently cited study in this category is the one reported by Randolph Byrd, a cardiologist at San Francisco General Hospital on 393 patients admitted between August, 1982 and May, 1983 to the coronary care unit. After signing the appropriate consents, the patients were assigned randomly to an intercessory prayer (IP) group (192 patients) or to a control group (201 patients). While hospitalized, the IP group received intercessory prayer from Christian prayer groups located outside the hospital (this was distant, not hands on bedside prayer). The control group did not.
          At entry, there was no statistical difference between the two groups, either by chi-square or stepwise logistic analysis. After discharge, the IP group had a significantly lower severity score based on the hospital course than the control group (P<.01). Multivariate analysis separated the groups on the basis of outcome variables (P>>
          And this one:
          While studies like these are not common, they definitely point to something supernatural. Does your faith exclude the possibly that this is the hand of God moving in response to prayer ?

          • eric seiler 03/27/2012, 1:50 am:


            For some reason the second abstract did not post. I’ll try here again:


          • eric seiler 03/27/2012, 1:54 am:


            One more try!

            In some of the latest research, doctors at Duke University Medical Center analyzed 150 heart patients undergoing various treatments, including angioplasties. They divided the patients into five groups. All received medical treatment, but four groups also got one of the following: touch therapy, relaxation training, lessons in using guided imagery or being prayed for without their knowledge (italics mine).
            Results? Patients who received any of the additional therapies were 25 to 30 percent less likely to develop complications from their medical treatment than those who received nothing extra.
            “We know from past studies that relaxation exercises, meditation and being gently touched and cared for can have profound effects on the heart. These activities reduce blood pressure, heart rates and stress hormones,” says Harold G. Koenig, M.D., internist, psychiatrist and director of the Center for the Study of Religion, Spirituality and Health at Duke. “But in this case, the group with the lowest complication rates was the one being unknowingly prayed for. There’s no scientific explanation for that.”

          • JStraussDC 03/27/2012, 11:51 am:

            No, Eric I don’t know how you got that idea. Quite the opposite, the only effect that can occur is of a supernatral nature. God does the healing. But we must distinguish between true healing and just changing body chemistry and signs or symptoms that might mimic healing. That’s what drugs do and perhaps some of the therapies you mention (touch, relaxation, etc.) I’m not sure a medical study is even able to discern between changing symptoms (oibu) and true healing (ADIO). True supernatural healing is ADIO.

        • eric seiler 03/27/2012, 7:14 pm:

          Thanks Joe. On the ADIO bit we can fully agree. However I would in fact like to hear what Dr. Hollensed has to say in regard to my question.

  4. John Manson 03/24/2012, 9:11 am:


    • Claude Lessard 03/24/2012, 4:01 pm:

      Now, our task is to translate WHAT we can imagine into WHO we choose to BE in order to build chiropractic communities! 🙂

  5. Claude 03/26/2012, 2:34 pm:

    I have know Reggie for almost 40 years. I have been his student for 3 years at Sherman. We started ADIO Institute of Straight Chiropractic together in January of !978. We worked together and he spoke to my practice members several times. I heard many of his talks and listen to many tapes of his. –

    – I have heard the “Ben Casey” story so many times. Reggie was always cautious to NOT bring God or anything else for that matter into chiropractic. Reggie was ALWAYS keeping chiropractic separate and distinct from EVERYTHING. That’s WHO he ALWAYS chose to BE. It is Reggie WHO chose to introduce the word STRAIGHT chiropractic with Dr. Gelardi in 1977 at the suggestion of Bill Bahan of New Hamshire and it is Reggie WHO chose to create the “non-therapeutic” model for chiropractors to follow.

    Now, it is I WHO chooses to BE an Objective Straight Chiropractor and to make my commitment to stay the course for chiropractic until the end!

    Claude Lessard.

  6. Richie Barone D.C. 03/26/2012, 7:55 pm:

    I really love this blog…..thanks Joe and everyone who participates

  7. Claude Lessard 03/27/2012, 3:41 pm:

    Chiropractic does NOT deal with the supernatural. Educated intelligence comes from outside-in-below-up and being ALWAYS less than 100% can NEVER “improve” internal functions from ABOVE-DOWN-INSIDE-OUT which are under the governing of the innate intelligence of the body which is ALWAYS 100%. –

    – Having said this, this thread is NOT chiropractic philosophy. It is going beyond its Major Premise and is dealing with the supernatural. It simply ADDS to WHAT chiropractic is and therefore deals with something it is NOT. –

    – WHY using energy and time on this blog for that, while it is so well expressed in the book “THE NATURE OF MAN”?

    – Chiropractic is the NATURAL philosophy of life and health and the art and science of locating, analyzing, and correcting vertebral subluxations, in accordance with that PHILOSOPHY. Period.

    • Steve 03/27/2012, 4:27 pm:

      Atta boy Claude, you STRAIGHTEN them out. I love the chiro talk/philosophy. We could discuss it endlessly, learning and growing our TIC. Or we can split hairs and waste time on goatfeathers.

    • eric seiler 03/27/2012, 7:12 pm:

      And yet Claude… the discussion goes on. Nothing of the physical word, or any thought in the mind of man exits apart from God. You can draw an arbitrary line between “nature” and God for the sake of discussion if you wish, but the line, in reality, does not exist. God, man and the universe are fully confluent.

      • Claude 03/27/2012, 10:47 pm:

        The Major Premise of chiropractic IS the “start point” of chiropractic. Through the method of perception called deductive reasoning, 32 principles are formulated. –

        – Anything BEYOND the Major Premise is DEFINITELY NOT the NATURAL philosophy of life and health, and the art and science of locating analyzing and correcting vertebral subluxations in accordance with the philosophy.

        – The discussion that goes on, whatever it is… is very good, and it is just NOT chiropractic philosophy.

        • eric seiler 03/28/2012, 12:53 am:


          And some would say (including the founders of our profession) that the major premise begins with God. However we have been down this road …and you and I disagree. So be it.

          • JStraussDC 03/28/2012, 8:40 pm:

            Just curious Eric, is there anything the “founding fathers” said that you do not agree with?

        • eric seiler 03/29/2012, 1:46 am:


          In answer to your question, on a fundamental level, nothing really comes to mind! This is not to say that there may be something one of the Palmers wrote that I might take exception to…but again nothing glaring comes to mind. I would also add that I agree with the statement you first made to me wherein you said that nobody’s opinion is beyond scrutiny…and that would include our founding father’s as well.
          As such, if I could find any reasonable argument that the major premise does not immediately introduce the element of theology into the philosophy of chiropractic I would happily side with you on this matter. But this simply is not the case. Truthfully, without the theological overtone provided by the major premise, most of what follows becomes hollow and atomistic. Talk of organization in matter (living and non-living) without identifying “what” is truly doing the organizing is only so much inductive lingo. I believe this is why DD coined the expression the way he did, and why BJ continued to support this to the ends of his days.

    • JStraussDC 03/27/2012, 8:25 pm:

      Agreed Claude. Some chiropractors use therapies (medicine, drugless, concept, meditation) to educatedly change body chemistry. Whether they have any value to the individual or not, they are not chiropractic. Sometimes chiropractors make the mistake of trying to judge their value and try to convince themselves that they are not outside-in.
      In a similar manner belief systems/religion are not chiropractic. Whether they are of value or not is up to the individual to determine. It is a personal decision, apart from chiropractic. There are areas where the philosophy of medicine and philosophy of chiropractic are in conflict. (eg. Considering the educated brain as superior to the innate intelligence of the body). We need to clarify those conflicts. Whether there are conflicts between people’s belief systems and chiropractic philosophy is for the individual to determine. The bottom line is our desire should be to so clearly and fully understand chiropractic that we can each make that determination for ourselves. What we should avoid is mixing chiropractic and medicine and chiropractic and a belief system/religion. Sometimes it is difficult to keep that seperation when some people are so determined to mix them. Thank you for the reminder .

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