I'm alluding to the fact that there's a materialistic aspect that should not be ignored, and this is what is primarily worked on for most of any individual's day. A spiritual healer for instance cannot get rid of a bacterial infection by prayer alone, unless God allows miracles to happen through this person. Spiritual healing is about how what I do would be beneficial for my salvation, or how I can turn anything I do for a salvific affect. Therefore, even in materialistic instances, such as healing an infection using antibiotics, I still think about the spiritual aspect in this for myself. If the patient allows, he/she also can have this spiritual aspect in him/herself as well as he/she is being healed physically. I also gave the analogy to mundane things like eating a meal earlier.
It's like in Christology, we define Christ as having both materialistic and divine aspects in Him. I could simply spend time on why the reality of the crucifixion by alluding to the materialistic, "en theoria" apart from the divine (and His rational soul as well) involvement in it. Likewise, my description of the materialistic is a contemplative aspect of the work I do, which is nonetheless an important aspect of the work.
I'm going to play the "devil's advocate": Wouldn't this delegitimize the notion of turning to God for all things through prayer, since recovery from bacterial infections is governed by a specific set of material laws? We pray to God not only for our salvation, but for our material well-being (e.g. a "painless" ending to our life), but isn't it ultimately pointless to do so if such an eventuality is decided and observable exclusively within a naturalist, materialist framework? I suppose this could possibly lead to some significant philosophical problems (e.g. God of the Gaps not as heretical but as the only theologically consistent understanding), but I'd be interested in hearing your input.
Well, grace is not something magical. I think people with simple minds tend to look for a sign or miracle that "proves" God, when in fact, God is much bigger than that. Perhaps, in an age where people haven't matured in mind yet, that this is acceptable. But we are a much more wiser and smarter human species than thousands of years ago. We no longer take milk, but solids, as St. Paul teaches. Therefore, we know God is quite a systematic God, and rivals in organization and consistency.
So, pretty much, we believe that God sustains all things through His grace. There is not one minuscule material or spiritual matter that isn't sustained by His grace. All creation is sustained through Him. Therefore, just because something can be healed by antibiotics does not mean we ignore God's grace. His grace gives us the realization that nothing we do that can be through Him is in vain. But if we dig deeper, and do all things on a purely materialistic basis, then all things disintegrate into vanity.
The most important proof in all of this is that God became man. Therefore, whatever God did materialistically, it's no longer grace in a merciful fashion, but a truly intimate and more superior grace. Now, I carry God in me. And it is of utmost importance that this blessing be magnified in all things we do.
Atheists who do things on a purely materialistic basis simply work in the dark. They may say we don't need light, we created night vision goggles. But for the believers, God to us is the light that lightens all things. Sure, theoretically, I may not need even vision to do some of the mundane things in life, but vision adds meaning to what you do, not in a magical sense, but in a grateful sense.
As we pray in the Coptic Church, "We thank You for every condition, concerning every condition, and in every condition, for You covered us, helped us, guarded us, accepted us to You, spared us, supported us, and has brought us to this hour." That is what an Orthodox Christian does. We give thanks in ALL things, not just in the things we can't explain. If miraculously my bracelet shows up after I know I dropped it in the sewers, or somehow I passed the hardest exam in the world that I should have failed, are these the only things I thank God for? Or do I thank God for waking up, for being able to walk to the shower, for having the means to live and to care for my family, for having the intelligence to study and to work, for eating my breakfast, lunch, and dinner? This is true grace.