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Prayer and Health


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Sunday morning reflection, maybe....

So finally someone comes out with a study debunking the link between prayer and pragmatic success.

Prayer doesn't help heart patients in U.S., study finds

(Mind you, maybe it's just that God doesn't like Americans ;) ).

Having people pray for heart bypass patients had no effect on their recoveries in an American study, researchers say.

The scientists, led by Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School, emphasized that they looked only at the effect of prayer on the patients in their study – and could not address questions such as whether God exists or answers prayers.

The research, which is to be published in the April 2006 issue of the American Heart Journal, involved about 1,800 patients at six medical centres.

Three Christian groups were asked to pray for particular patients, starting the night before their surgeries and continuing for two weeks.

The volunteers were given a patient's given name and last initial, and prayed for "a successful surgery with a quick, healthy recovery and no complications."

Patients were divided into three groups:

* One set of patients was being prayed for and knew it.

* The second group was also the subject of prayers, but only knew it was a possibility.

* Patients in the third group weren't prayed for, although they were told they might be.

The researchers did not tell patients or their families or friends to change their plans for praying, saying it would have been impractical and unethical to do so.

I get so sick of those studies that get reprinted in every other issue of Reader's Digest that insist that the divine is in the end some kind of celestial sugar daddy. I boil that down to North American tendencies to want stuff and to exert every mental effort to try to get it.

That said, I have to wonder if there is such a thing as altruistic prayer. Is there a line between meditation and prayer?

[edit to add:] And I find this curious, too:

The study found 59 per cent of the patients who knew they were being prayed for developed medical complications. Among those who thought they might be prayed for, 52 per cent had complications.

The researchers said they had no explanation for the higher complication rate among patients who knew they were being prayed for.

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I get so sick of those studies that get reprinted in every other issue of Reader's Digest that insist that the divine is in the end some kind of celestial sugar daddy.

Well said. Go easy on the Reader's Digest, though ... that stuff'll rot your brain :)

Not sure what to make of the bottom section (the 59%), either.

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The topic didn't generate much in the way of views or response. Seemed like one of those things that either fizzle out or turn into a crazy 3 page debate ... I was sort of thinking that you would have triggered the latter, DEM.

Anyways, at the moment there is a good segment on TVO's "Big Ideas" by a McGill med. professor called "Spirituality and Healing". I think it is wrapping up, but TVO tends to air the Big Ideas program a few times over the course of a Sunday, so it should be back on later today. Excellent in the sense of discussing the ways in which spiritual matters are valuable in situations of sickness/health without getting into the "consumer Christianity" if-i-just-ask-for-it-right-i'll-get-it business. It is addressed to medical students most of whom (presumably) have never experienced critical illness themselves.

A few minutes ago he was talking about a young man dying of terminal mastatic lung cancer who referred to it as 'the best year of his life'. Powerful stuff.

There certainly are a bundle of blessings in illness. If it worked so cleanly that someone could pray for you and you would get better, those (difficult) transformations would be lost and for nought.

We may be the only two interested, but DEM, I urge you to check it out. Good show.

[edit:] It just ended, and he also used the term "consumer Christianity" pejoratively. So now I doubly recommend it :)

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I urge y'all to watch - What The Bleep - Then coming very soon -What The Bleep!?-Down The Rabbit Hole-

For a taste of some MIND BLOWING Quantum thoughts.

check out


one realy neat thing I suggest you look at is under the 'Phenomena' title...scroll down and click on - water crystals - edit to add..when I say 'one neat thing' I mean just that...everything about this doc-film is fucking delisciously tantalizing!

For Ottawa peeps - What The Bleep!?-Down The Rabbit Hole- is coming to the Mayfair very soon!!!


okay it doest seem to be listed...but its starting very shortly after what they are showing for I think four days...so it should be up and listed very soon.

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okay I want to point out one more thing that might entice examination of this information and it is kinda relevant to the original topic...'kinda'

Under the scientists listings under John Hagelin, Ph.D. if you scroll down to the end of the info about him click on 'this page' to see information about a crime study that was conducted in Washington, D.C. in 1983, using a large group of participants meditating on lowering crime.

Its pretty interesting beans.

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Thanks for the refs and links! Will certainly pursue.

I certainly don't doubt that we draw the line between mind and body too sharply; there are definitely, in my experience, influences between the two that we rarely if ever appreciate. I suppose my original concern was about the limits of the power we try to exert over the flow of things in general, that are otherwise beyond our ken but which we try to convince ourselves for whatever reasons that we do or should have power over. Human will is often enough humanity's (and the globe's) curse, as far as I figure.

I got to thinking of the Rabi`a's prayer today, after I'd first posted this -

O God! If I worship You for fear of Hell, burn me in Hell/

And if I worship You in hope of Paradise, exclude me from Paradise/

But if I worship You for Your Own sake/

Grudge me not Your everlasting Beauty.

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no prob...but give me a slap next time ya see me for saying 'delisciously tantalizing' :blush: :blush: ...holy macaronis I gets a bit too excited about this stuff!

I didn't even notice I said that till now and its tooo late to just edit her up....people without highschool or anyone for that matter shouldn't ever speak like that!....ohgawd...

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I dunno. Which current news clippings? There's been lots of this stuff for a very long time ...

Mind you, personal prayer (and/or meditation) does seem to consistently be shown to have a postive effect particularly in regards to immunity. That much isn't very controversial, and you don't need to get too deep into metaphysics or spiritual affairs to explain it. Stress->(variety of affects such as interleukin-6 and cortisol levels)->lowered immunity. Relief of stress->(abatement of those same affects)->hightened immunity.

That the peace and relaxation brought about through personal prayer (as opposed to the type of altruistic prayer by 3rd parties mentioned in the study above) helps people to heal faster isn't really in dispute, I don't think. Even by the secular medical establishment. The difference is just that the bible thumpers want to use that as a reason why you should convert, and the rest see the physiological changes brought about by an alteration of the biological/chemical terrain through reduction of stress effects as explanation enough.

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Quite right, I think. Again, I think of those folks at mass healing events (Benny Hinn, et al.) who seem by all appearances to have gotten past whatever crippling afflictions they've had; there's something there to be said about the effect of getting whipped up by endorphins, having been selected to actually come up on stage, having hopes about to be realised, etc. Where are they when that rush wears off?

Mind you, a combination of fine doses and a sweet Dead show at Pine Knob apparently did the trick for CJ's broken foot once ;).

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I'm not sure about praying for others and if that works or not but a good buddy of mine told me about a study that's really neat and you've probably heard about. It's a random number generating study. Some guy gave out a whole bunch of little machines to plug into your computer that just generate tonnes and tonnes of random numbers. The purpose of the experiment is to see if the collective conscience (all our wonderful thoughts put together) can influence matter. They've been finding that when big things occur in the world, the numbers become less random and start generating patterns of a sort (think 911, war in iraq, thing that get the whole world thinking at the same time). If this is all true then a very large group of people praying (or chanelling their conscious energy) at one person might just affect them. It would take a lot though, not just the small amount in this test above.

Also, What the Bleep Do We Know: Down the Rabbit Hole will be playing at the Bytowne here in Ottawa the week of April 11 - 17.

Global Consciousness Project

ByTowne Schedule

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