A Dutch Study of Remarkable Recoveries After Prayer: How to Deal with Uncertainties of Explanation

Elena Bendien, Dirk J. Kruijthoff, Cornelis van der Kooi, Gerrit Glas, Tineke Abma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article addresses cases of remarkable recoveries related to healing after prayer. We sought to investigate how people who experienced remarkable recoveries re-construct and give meaning to these experiences, and examine the role that epistemic frameworks available to them, play in this process. Basing ourselves on horizontal epistemology and using grounded theory, we conducted this qualitative empirical research in the Netherlands in 2016–2021. It draws on 14 in-depth interviews. These 14 cases were selected from a group of 27 cases, which were evaluated by a medical assessment team at the Amsterdam University Medical Centre. Each of the participants had experienced a remarkable recovery during or after prayer. The analysis of the interviews, which is based on the grounded theory approach, resulted in three overarching themes, placing possible explanations of the recoveries within (1) the medical discourse, (2) biographical discourse, and (3) a discourse of spiritual and religious transformation. Juxtaposition of these explanatory frameworks provides a way to understand better the transformative experience that underlies remarkable recoveries. Uncertainty regarding an explanation is a component of knowing and can facilitate a dialogue between various domains of knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1731-1755
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Religion and Health
Issue number3
Early online date2023
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • Explanatory frameworks
  • Healing after prayer
  • Horizontal epistemology
  • Remarkable recoveries
  • Uncertainty

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