Larry Dossey, a physician of internal medicine, has written four books in which he has examined the links between consciousness and body, mind and matter. In Healing Words: the Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine he peers into a salutary world to come where science and spirituality will, in his words, "stand side by side, in a complementary way, neither trying to usurp or eliminate other."

For over a decade, the Spindrift Organization in Salem, Oregon, has conducted laboratory experiments showing the healing powers of prayer. Dr. Dossey shares the findings of more than 100 other controlled experiments along the same line. He believes the evidence is overwhelming that "prayer functions at a distance to change physical processes in a variety of organisms, from bacteria to humans." It appears to work about 20 percent of the time.

Prayer, according to Dossey, is a nonlocal event that reaches beyond the here-and-now. It can help others whether one is at bedside or thousands of miles away. Researchers have found that the nondirective approach, such as the prayer "thy will be done," is more effective than an aggressive prayer asking for a specific outcome. In either case, love is a necessary part of the process. A sense of empathy or emotional closeness also seems to be evident in nonlocal healing occurrences.

Near the end of the book, Dossey gives 12 reasons why most doctors continue to reject scientific evidence for distant healing. The author confesses that he has used prayers in his practice and predicts that someday soon they will be recognized as a potent force in medicine.