Skip to comments.Study fails to show healing power of prayer
Posted on 03/30/2006 3:17:30 PM PST by paltz
By Michael Conlon
CHICAGO (Reuters) - A study of more than 1,800 patients who underwent heart bypass surgery has failed to show that prayers specially organized for their recovery had any impact, researchers said on Thursday.
In fact, the study found some of the patients who knew they were being prayed for did worse than others who were only told they might be prayed for -- though those who did the study said they could not explain why.
The patients in the study at six U.S. hospitals included 604 who were actually prayed for after being told they might or might not be; another 597 patients who were not prayed for after being told they might or might not be; and a group of 601 who were prayed for and told they would be the subject of such prayer.
The praying was done by members of three Christian groups in monasteries and elsewhere -- two Catholic and one Protestant -- who were given written prayers and the first name and initial of the last name of the prayer subjects. The prayers started on the eve of or day of surgery and lasted for two weeks.
Among the first group -- who were prayed for but only told they might be -- 52 percent had post-surgical complications compared to 51 percent in the second group, the ones who were not prayed for though told they might be. In the third group, who knew they were being prayed for, 59 percent had complications.
After 30 days, however, the death rates and incidence of major complications was about the same across all three groups, said the study published in the American Heart Journal.
COMPLICATIONS AFTER SURGERY
"Intercessory prayer itself had no effect on whether complications occurred (and) patients who were certain that intercessors would pray for them had a higher rate of complications than patients who were uncertain but did receive intercessory prayer," the study said.
There is "no clear explanation" for the latter finding, it added.
The study -- called the largest of its kind -- was designed only to try to measure the impact of intercessory prayer on heart surgery patients, an intervention that some earlier reports had showed seemed to be beneficial.
"Our study was never intended to address the existence of God or the presence or absence of intelligent design in the universe" or to compare the efficacy of one prayer form over another, said the Rev. Dean Marek, director of chaplain services at the Mayo Clinic, one of the authors.
The patients in the study had similar religious profiles with most believing in spiritual healing and almost all also thinking that friends or relatives would be praying for them as well, he said.
"One caveat is that with so many individuals receiving prayer from friends and family, as well as personal prayer, it may be impossible to disentangle the effects of study prayer from background prayer," Manoj Jain of Baptist Memorial Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee, another author of the report.
The authors said one possible limitation to their study was that those doing the special praying had no connection or acquaintance with the subjects of their prayer, which would not usually be the norm.
"Private or family prayer is widely believed to influence recovery from illness, and the results of this study do not challenge this belief," the report concluded.
The elders of my church prayed a few weeks ago for a member who had stomach cancer, and a return trip to his doctor found the cancer was gone. The doctor's explanation: "It was a miracle." This would indicate that this Reuters-reported study was flawed.
A complete and total misunderstanding of prayer. How nice.
...typical article for a Rooter-Writer.
And there you have it. Some are actually "worse off" because of prayer while none are better off. More road apples!
Well Golly Gee!!!! I guess GOD never took a course in Probability and Statistics for Atheists.
Pray tell, who funded this study?
I do think publishing this result does more harm than good. "Knowledge" isn't positive knowledge given the inevitable gross misinterpretations by hypersecular enthusiasts.
'Healing power of prayer revealed'
Research shows prayer has a beneficial effect
A massive study has found that patients admitted to hospital with heart trouble fare better if someone is praying for them.
None of those involved were told that people were engaging in what is known as "intercessory prayer" on their behalf.
Just over half of these, picked at random, were made the subject of intercessory prayer.
However, on average, the 500 patients prayed for had 11% less complications during their stay in hospital.
In all, the researchers looked at 990 people admitted to the coronary care unit over the course of a year.
Using a standard coronary care scoring system, patients from prayer and non-prayer groups were assessed. Those who were the subject of prayer did better than their fellow patients, although in general, they did not get out of hospital any earlier.
'Could be chance'
The research team, based at a university hospital in Kansas City, US, admitted that no rational explanation could be found to explain away the difference.
But their report said: "We have not proven that God answers prayer or that God even exists. It was intercessory prayer, not the existence of God, that was tested here.
"Chance still remains a possible explanation of our results."
The prayers were said by volunteers from a local church. They were simply sent the patient's first name on a piece of paper, and told to pray for "a speedy recovery with no complications".
Those being prayed for did not even know that a clinical trial was going on, let alone that they were the target of prayer. The scientists believed that knowing that someone was praying for you could conceivably have an effect on outcomes.
Other studies into the effects of intercessory prayer have been inconclusive - it has been found in earlier studies to have no significant effect on leukaemia patients, or those suffering from anxiety or depression.
However, one study into AIDS patients found significant improvements in the number of infections acquired when intercessory prayer was given.
The latest study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Beautiful story. Those who doubt it have obviously never experienced healing through prayer.
A dear friend called me today, saying that her church held a special service just last night devoted to Jill Carroll.
I am stunned that a forum which values prayer so deeply would be so callous to think it cannot effect healing of every kind.
I'm an atheist, but I have a son who is quite religious. I discuss religion with him all the time and he understands my point of view. I think this was a good study although they could have looked into a few other things. Nevertheless, I'm thinking that it might be somewhat cruel to send my son this article.
No it doesn't, any more than a chain smoker who lives to 100 indicates that smoking isn't harmful.
Somehow I doubt you'd say this if the results came out the other way.
Since when does it take a study to determine what God has said to be the truth? The only people who put any stock in such a study are atheists and agnostics.
Gideon wanted to see proof, too.
Your lack of faith is....disturbing.
quote "One caveat is that with so many individuals receiving prayer from friends and family, as well as personal prayer, it may be impossible to disentangle the effects of study prayer from background prayer"
you always have to read to the end to get the truth.
Jesus, in Nazareth, "could do no mighty works there because of their unbelief." Yet He healed all 10 lepers. How? "Your faith has made you whole."
ack...gack...hey, cut it out :)
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