HEALING WORDS – THE POWER OF PRAYER

For the majority of human civilisation, payer, ritual, religion and healing have been intimately connected.  The connection was disrupted with the advent of scientific medicine, which labelled healing through prayer as superstition with no foundation in science.  However an increasingly diverse body of literature is now beginning to show that there is indeed a demonstrable link between health, religion and prayer.

A study published in The Journal of Gerontology demonstrated that attendance at religious services may actually improve physical health and psychological wellbeing.  The three major finding are:  lower frequency of unhealthy behaviours, stronger support systems and social ties and improved emotional wellbeing.

A good example of the therapeutic power of PRAYER is a study by Cardiologist Randolph Byrd.  Over a ten month period, a computer assigned 393 patients admitted to a coronary care unit to either a group that was prayed for at home PRAYER GROUPS (192 patients) , or to a group that was not remembered in PRAYER (201 patients).

The study was designed according to rigid criteria, neither the patients, nurses or doctors knew which group the patient was in.  The PRAYER GROUPS were given the first names of their patients as well as a brief description of their diagnosis and condition and they were asked to PRAY each day, but were given no instructions on how to PRAY.

The PRAYED -FOR patients differed in several areas:

  1. They were five times less likely than the unremembered group to require antibiotics (three patients compared to sixteen controls)
  2. They were three times less likely to develop pulmonary oedema (6 out of 18)
  3. None of the PRAYED-FOR GROUP required endotracheal intubation, in which an artificial airway is inserted in the throat and attached to a mechanical ventilator, whilst twelve controls required mechanical ventilatory support.
  4. Fewer patients in the PRAYED-FOR GROUP died.

If the technique being studied had been a new drug or surgical procedure instead of PRAYER, it would have been heralded as a “breakthrough”.

In The Spindrift Organisation, experiments using the non-directed PRAYER technique, in which those PRAYING asked for “what’s best” or “Thy will be done”, appeared quantitatively more effective, frequently yielding results that were twice as effective as the directed approach, in which those PRAYING attempted to tell God what to do.

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