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Gray Matter: A Neurosurgeon Discovers the Power of Prayer . . . One Patient at a Time

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  • Posted August 27, 2011

    God's Gift of Prayer

    Author David Levy's book is very insightful on prayer and his approach on how to pray. The renowned neurosurgeon faced down his own inner critics only to face down his colleagues and found his threshold to courage as a new foundation. Dr. Levy then brings in his approach of asking patients if there might be someone they need to forgive. As risky as that might be for a physician, the results Dr. Levy has reported in changed lives, let alone surgical successes, is amazing. There are several stories shared of how God answered Dr. Levy's prayers during his surgical procedures, in ways that it was only God being the miraculous. Dr. Levy is quick to point out that not every procedure is 100% positive just because of prayer, but the guidance of God's peace and wisdom is a tremendous help, to both he and the patient and family. This is an excellent book for all to read on both the functional and inspirational use of prayer in every day life.

    This was a book I reviewed for Tyndale House Publishers.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 27, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A lovely book

    Working in the medical field myself, I found this book to be very insightful and interesting. Although Dr. Levy and I do not share the same religious beliefs, I have also found this book to be faith strengthening and soul fortifying. I'd highly recommend this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 6, 2011

    Great story! Touched my heart!

    In the memoir Gray Matter, Dr. David Levy shares his journey to combine medicine and faith. Dr. Levy slowly came to faith over a period of years, but eventually he began to chafe at compartmentalizing his belief in Christ. However, he found that most medical professionals he worked with--especially his fellow surgeons--considered themselves men of science who were above spiritual concerns. Yet he became convinced that God wanted Him to pray aloud with his patients before their surgeries. Initially this idea scared him.

    In spite of his concerns, he writes, "Through all my questions and doubts I felt an inner voice saying to me, 'If you are worried about being misunderstood, I can promise you that you will be. Jesus was. But you still need to do the right thing.'"

    So Dr. Levy chooses a patient and dives in! He describes how he decided which patient to begin with and then his hesitation in praying in front of the nurse. He makes small talk with the family during an excruciating wait for the nurse to leave, and then he asks his patient, "Do you mind if I pray for you?"

    Thus begins his incredible journey. Soon he is praying in front of family members, nurses, technicians, and even his fellow doctors and surgeons--and all with amazing results. The stories he shares of his patients' responses are by turns inspiring, amusing, uplifting, and poignant. With his prayers Dr. Levy ushered in opportunities to lead patients and family members to Christ.

    Here's Dr. Levy's official conclusion on the role of faith in healing: "My goal as a professional is to use my skills and knowledge to help people have the best lives possible, for as long as possible. This includes emotional as well as physical health, because the two are interrelated. Emotions can create health or cause disease, and spiritual health affects emotional health. Laughter and joy are known to restore and encourage health, while bitterness and resentment promote disease. Forgiveness has well-documented health benefits. One's concept of God can cause ongoing joy or ongoing anxiety. These issues are not incidental but are central to health."

    My conclusion? Many folks will be in the kingdom of heaven because of the compassion of this good man.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 23, 2014

    Excellent read!

    This is an excellent book. It is an autobiography as well as a treatise on the power of forgiveness in healing. Could not put it down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2013

    Gray Matter.....EXCELLENT

    This is a book that pulls at your heart strings and continues to show what and how faith can humble you and move you forward in your lives by guiding you in that way that only Christ can. This is a great story of a brain surgeon (Neuro Surgeon) that learns what it is like to think they can do no wrong until the unexpected happens.....excellent read and makes you think about your own choices in life! Enjoy!

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  • Posted August 26, 2012

    Dr. Levy, San Diego neurosurgeon, has written an incredibly insp

    Dr. Levy, San Diego neurosurgeon, has written an incredibly inspiring
    book regarding his experiences in praying with and for his patients.
    Gray Matter is a fast-moving, easy-reading, humbly-written book that you
    will not be able to put down. With amazing ease, Dr. Levy explains and
    simplifies the most intricate and delicate anatomy, physiology,
    functions and vasculature of his favorite surgical field (the human
    brain) so that his readers feel as though they are getting a front-seat
    sneak preview of the brain by way of a camera on the tip of a catheter.
    Join him as he wields his sophisticated equipment though the maze of
    whisper-thin arteries and veins, the ultimate goal being tangled or
    bubbled regions on the vessels...areas which may or not be friable or
    ready to burst, but which must be repaired or removed. Learn with him
    about humility as he struggles with his decision to pray for his
    patients prior to surgery. As a nurse, I enjoyed reading about the
    "powerful and intimidating RN", who was simply starting an IV
    on the first patient he chose to pray with. A highly skilled surgeon
    intimidated by a nurse? A physician who wants to pray for his patient
    before a surgery? Is there such a man? We do see them, but all too
    infrequently. He discusses his plan to pray with a particular patient
    in the "pre-op" prior to the surgery in which he will thread a
    catheter through a large vein in the leg and then onward and upward to
    the very blood vessels which feed the patients' memory, movement,
    feeling, emotions--In fact, everything which makes that person who he
    is. With honesty humility (peppered with humor), he invites you to come
    along as he ponders the pros and cons of this venture into prayer in the
    pre-op room...the "Grand Central Station" of the operating
    suites and surrounding departments. No one has ever seen the likes of
    it! Eventually, He comes to realize that prayer is powerful
    indeed...then God takes him a step closer to Him and to trusting Him for
    more. In his book, Dr. Levy says that "learning the power of prayer
    led him to discover the power of forgiveness." Recognizing that
    bitterness can be the source of many health problems, he chose to obey
    God's mandate by beginning another step in helping his patients. He
    strived to bring them to healing in a way that required no
    instruments--only his belief in a powerful, loving and forgiving
    Creator. He soon was praying for patients, and even their family
    members, in his office and sometimes after his lunch time. He led them
    down the long pathway toward the healing of their damaged
    emotions...those which can steal joy and health, ruin the immune system
    and often destroy lives. The revelations of these incidents leave the
    reader astounded and grateful to our Lord and to this physician who
    chose to take a higher road in his profession, despite what others in
    his medical community may think. He also reveals in a painful soliloquy
    his fears and anger when some of his prayers were not answered. He had
    already acknowledged that he, as a doctor, was not God and that the Lord
    had miraculously brought many of his patients though their surgeries and
    recoveries. However, prayers not answered as he expected caused him much
    anguish. He relates these feelings in such a way as to cause the reader
    to sob right along with him. Particularly emotional is the chapter in
    which he relates leading a patient, whose surgery was unsuccessful, in a
    prayer of forgiveness a year later for himself (the surgeon). Something
    had gone terribly wrong and his patient, once a strong, virile man, but
    now an angry, thin and frail quadriplegic, joined him in a prayer that
    will break your heart and bring you to your knees. This book is the
    epitome of what we all should be...ready and willing to reach out to
    others as God leads. I learned much about myself while reading this book
    and quite frankly, saw much of myself, seeing how poorly I deal with my
    own inadequacies. God is a master at helping us to reach beyond
    ourselves to do His bidding and bring others into that perfect and
    loving relationship with Him. I highly suggest that you read this book.
    You don't need to be in the medical profession to understand the medical
    and surgical issues dealt with and as a child of God, you will revel in
    the exciting testimonies of a man who not only knows his God, but knows
    his Messiah, too!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2012

    I highly recommend this book!

    Such an amazing book!! There are so many fascinating stories. I loved every page!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2012

    Really wanted to like this book

    I am in the medical field and I really wanted to like this book and this just did not happen... 2 stars

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  • Posted May 23, 2012

    This is an awsome book. It's good to know not all doctors believ

    This is an awsome book. It's good to know not all doctors believe only in science but in a higher Helper.
    I got this book for FREE on my Sony reader and couldn't put it down.
    Too bad it costs so much here.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2012

    Very Inspirational Book

    This is the story of a neurologist in LA who tells the stories of his patients he has operated on and how his faith has affected his practice. It is a very good book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2011

    BOOOOOOOOOORINNNNNNG a waste of money!

    i only made it half way thru the book....this dr is quite full of himself and his "conversion" practices before surgery. Gifted he is,boring the book is .

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 8, 2011

    Heartwarming & a Great Read!!

    I finished a book about a month ago entitled: Gray Matter. This book is by Dr. David Levy. Dr. Levy decides he is going to ask his patients if he can pray with them before surgery. With the ever growing difference of religion in the world, it is not an easy task. Some patients are accepting and agree, some are surprised, and some are just downright resistant. However the outcome of their reaction maybe, the Dr. still says a silent prayer for each patient before he tries to heal them. Dr. Levy braves the storm of some very angered patients, and coworkers who question his new found work ethic. Some are surprised that he would venture down this road, after all most Dr.'s know that science and religion don't mix well at all. That doesn't stop the Dr. from doing what he feels is right in his heart.

    I thought this book was very interesting. To see the reactions of some people, and how just offering a simple prayer can really offend them.

    I think this book could be for any reader. Those who believe in kindness and love. Or those who believe that the power of prayer can go a long way. Whatever your case may be, this is still a heart warming story of compassion.

    *I received this book from Tyndale Publishing House for being a Book Blogger.*

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  • Posted July 5, 2011

    Fascinating read about a fascinating doctor!

    Dr. David Levy is an endovascular neurosurgeon who deals with a lot of life threatening cases in the operating room. But his healing doesn't begin in the OR. He prays with patients - in his clinic, right before surgery, and after surgery. And he has found that communicating with God brings better surgical outcomes. He has also found that many of the symptoms that people carry are psychosomatic - or, as the dictionary defines it, "caused by or notably influenced by emotional factors."

    This is a fascinating account of a doctor who operates in a very different way than most doctors. Working for a neurosurgeon myself, I could identify with a lot of the issues that Dr. Levy talks about - those dealing with the patients themselves, and some of the illnesses. I was very impressed by the manner in which Dr. Levy treats his patients. He realizes that it is not only the illness that needs to be treated, but also the underlying emotional/spiritual issues. I think he is the type of doctor that anyone would love to have - man of God, compassionate, and highly knowledgeable. I would definitely recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2011

    Encouragement Plus!

    Gray Matter by David Levy was a very encouraging book for me to read. It portrayed the journey of a successful neurosurgeon as he began to share the power of prayer with his patients, then with co-workers, and finally with his peers. His honesty in sharing his own feelings when things did not turn out as he had thought they would was another reminder of who ultimately is in control of life. This is not anything I have personally experienced, but as I read of these interactions I could imagine the increased feeling of peace before entering surgery knowing the surgeon was depending upon God and not his own abilities.

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  • Posted June 26, 2011

    Great read!

    This is a wonderful book about a neurosurgeon who moves from treating just the physical to the spiritual as well. He starts with praying with his patients prior to surgery, to praying with the staff prior to surgery, to really diving into his patients lives- past/current hurts to forgiveness. Great book!

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  • Posted June 26, 2011

    Enjoyable and Powerful

    Though Gray Matter started a bit slow, I was hooked before long and became quite emotional when reading about some of the more serious cases. But more than discussing prayer and neurosurgery, Gray Matter encourages readers to really look at how God works in ordinary lives and ordinary moments. I can see it as a call to be bolder and braver when it comes to my own faith, to trust in God more fully, and to reconsider prayer's powerful benefits. Gray Matter is an enjoyable, informative read for anyone who is willing to look at the greatness of God and the power of prayer.

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  • Posted June 23, 2011

    Inside a Neurosurgeon's Head

    When I first picked up Gray Matter I thought the author must have been very wordy since it is a 320 page book. I thought how could any one write such a lengthy book on just saying a short prayer with people.

    I was surprised to find I was wrong and how much I enjoyed the book. He didn't talk about the prayer and how it helped in a more general sense, but we got to see a slice into the life of a neurosurgeon. Dr. Levy takes you on a journey into the brain and some of the delicate procedures he preforms on a routine basis, even though to his patients it is nothing but routine.

    We meet his patients from an elderly lady to a toddler and everyone in between. I almost felt like I was holding my breath at times when he was describing surgeries. His writing style introduced us to his patients, and I was holding my breath as he was taking us into the ER with him.

    I loved how he described how forgiveness can make a huge difference in healing once people decided to let others off the hook. While their unforgiveness may have seemed to be a totally separate issue, many times once the person quit being so bitter they improved in their physical health.

    Dr. Levy doesn't shy away from the cases that were hard for him to accept. He does what he can, but that doesn't always mean his surgeries go perfectly. I thought it was very refreshing to hear a doctor talk about the cases where he felt he should have done something differently. It gave me a different perspective on doctors in general.

    I couldn't put this book down, but that didn't mean it was an easy read. Some of the issues contained were a bit heavier than light hearted reading, but the book is very much worth reading and I do recommend it!

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  • Posted June 7, 2011


    A great read. Once you start you won't want to put it down. Dr. Levy is a Jewish-born Christian neurosurgeon. He finds himself convicted to pray for his patients before their surgeries. This book is about his experiences in introducing prayer to his practice, and sharing it's results for his patients as well as himself.
    Dr. Levy's stories are fantastic, it's hard to put the book down. He gives us insight into his career as a neurosurgeon and tells us about the difference prayer makes in one's life. He also talks about when things don't go our way. This book is heart wrenching but precious.
    I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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  • Posted June 6, 2011

    An Enjoyable Read.

    In Gray Matter by Dr. David Levy we receive an inside look at the steps Dr. Levy took to introduce prayer into his practice as a Neurosurgeon. He introduces his patients to the power of forgiveness and the healing that can come by overcoming bitterness. I found it surprisingly enjoyable to read of the stories of different patients and how even those without faith were touched and transformed by forgiveness and prayer.

    I normally don't read this kind of book. Primarily because I tend to get pretty emotional when I read or hear about people dying and medical books often involve people dying. But, I liked the idea of reading about how prayer interfaces with the medical community. Even though I appreciated the stories, I realized again that medical books are just not for me. I often read as I'm rocking our baby to sleep and these stories put me on the edge of my chair and made my blood pressure go up just when I was needing to be calm and soothing. I read to relax and reading about the stressful situations these families were encountering wasn't very relaxing. It was intriguing, but not relaxing. I kept thinking that I had some sort of brain aneurysm. The cases Dr. Levy deals with are very technical and unusual, but reading the stories made me feel like all my loved ones were going to end up needing brain surgery.

    My only critique of this book is that I'm a little unsure about the intended audience for this book. Is it for medical personnel who are interested in adding a spiritual component to their practice? Or, is it for Christians who might be interested in how faith intersects with the medical community? I think both audiences might enjoy this book but the writing could have focused on one or the other to give it a bit more clarity. I think this would be a great graduation gift for a Christian doctor.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale as part of the Tyndlae Blog Network. I was not required to write a positive review.

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  • Posted May 7, 2011

    Definite page turner - Intriguing and Inspirational

    Prayer is the last thing a patient might expect to receive from their surgeon prior to brain surgery, but that's exactly what Dr David Levy was compelled to offer. Through compelling and personal stories, Dr Levy explains how and why he took the risk of putting his reputation at stake with his patients, colleagues, and medical staff, and how it transformed his practice and his life. He reveals the mind of a highly trained surgeon and the procedures of the intricate and high risk surgeries he performs. I found these glimpses into his medical practice fascinating. He openly and honestly shares his heart for his patients' well-being, both physically and spiritually. I laughed and I cried (for real - actual tears). As he shared his journey, I was challenged to contemplate my own ability to live with the courage to do what's right in my relationship with others and with God. 'Gray Matter' is interesting, educational, and inspirational. Thank you, Dr Levy, for sharing your story and your exceptional life with us. Thank you, Joel Kilpatrick, for making Dr Levy's story so compelling and interesting to read; truly a page turner. Well worth recommending and sharing with others.

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