Friday, March 31, 2006

Studying Prayer

Study Fails to Show the Healing Power of Prayer

Really, I’m not surprised.

In this study, 1,800 heart by-pass patients were monitored and it failed to show that prayer specifically organized for them had any impact on their recovery. Some patients who were told they were being prayed for actually got worse than other patients who were told only told they might be prayed for.

Therefore, prayer obviously doesn’t work, right?

Well, not so fast there. First of all, look at the study. 604 patients were prayed for after they were told they might or might not be. 597 were not prayed for after they might or might not be. While, 601 were told they were being prayed for and indeed were prayed for.

According the to article, the prayers were done by three different Christian groups – two Catholic and one Protestant. The people praying were given a written prayer and the first name and initial of the patient’s last name to pray for.

Again, I’m not surprised that those who were prayed for had more post-surgery complications than those who weren’t. In fact, after 30 days, all three groups had the same death rate and complication rate. So, there ya go, prayer doesn’t help…

The problem with this study is twofold. One, the study inaccurately defines prayer. The practice of prayer should not be the reciting of specific words to please God. Prayer should not be formulaic. When prayer becomes ceremonial, it is, basically, fake. You can recite the Lord’s Prayer all you want, but if the words aren’t from the heart, if they are just words, they have no meaning and no favor with God. Prayer is talking and listening to God; prayer is a relationship.

The second problem with the study is that it assumes God answers “Yes” to prayers. That is a very wrong assumption. God does indeed listen to our prayers and He does answer them. But, He knows what is best for us and He acts accordingly. He answers our prayers; we, however, don’t always like the answer He gives. And, therein lies the problem.

So, we really shouldn’t be surprised at the results of this study. However, don’t walk away surprised that God answers our prayers. But, also know that what you want and what God wants for you isn’t always the same. And really, what God wants for you is much better than what you want.

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