Val Kilmer believes in the power of prayer.
Following months of denials, the 57-year-old actor revealed for the first time last month that he has been recuperating from cancer. On Tuesday, he opened up about his health struggles in a fan Q&A on Reddit — and how his faith played a key role in his recovery.
“I am very grateful for all the prayers and good thoughts from around the world,” he told Reddit user Notevenspecial, who asked about his battle with cancer.
“People that know I am a Christian Scientist make the assumption that I have somehow endangered myself,” he added. “But many many people have been healed by prayer throughout recorded history. And many many people have died by whatever was modern medicine.”
Kilmer denied having the disease for months after Michael Douglas told reporters in October that his onetime costar was battling oral cancer, which Douglas himself beat in 2013. Kilmer first acknowledged he had cancer during a previous Reddit AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) in April, revealing, “I did have a healing of cancer.”
On Wednesday, Kilmer elaborated on how he believes his devotion to Christian Science was key to his recovery. Giving an example of the power of prayer, the actor recalled a conversation with Dr. Bernard Lown, the inventor of the defibrillator. Asked what the most important thing a doctor can do for a patient fearing death, Kilmer said Lown told him, “Fluff their pillow. That what I tell all the interns. LOVE. Love heals. More than any other skills, I urge them to LOVE the life they are entrusted to save.”
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That message, Kilmer said, is “what is at the heart” of Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy’s “teachings of Jesus.”
According to Kilmer, Jesus “taught his students how to heal physical and mental challenges by understanding the immense power of love … I have seen people turn down love. I have turned it down myself when I was younger.”
Kilmer also said love and prayer played a key role while he was hospitalized back in 2015: “It was an unspeakable sense of universal support while I was briefly in the hospital. Even 2 of my doctors mentioned praying with me, for me.”
The star also said he’s gotten more private about his beliefs as he’s aged.
“[I] probably tried to convince people when I was younger” about the power of faith healing, but added, “I try to mind my own business now that I’m older. I also hope I never turn down Love again.”
The actor also addressed some of the skepticism that surrounds his religion, and said that many critics do not have an accurate understanding of Christian Science.
“Sometimes people are surprisingly mean about this sort of talk. Maybe they mix it up in their minds with extremists,” he said. “People screaming with signs in front of Planned Parenthood or something. Thats not my sense of Christianity.”