Shocker: Study Shrugs Off Prayer’s Power to Heal
Posted on Mar 31, 2006
A nationwide study finds that having strangers pray for heart patients does not help their health. In fact, the prayed-for are actually more likely to suffer complications.
Some say prayer can move mountains. But can anyone prove it helps heart patients sail through surgery? Researchers from six hospitals across the USA set out to try.
In the largest study to examine the effects of this profoundly personal activity, researchers found that asking strangers to pray for heart-bypass patients had no effect on their recovery. In fact, patients who were told that study volunteers were praying for them were actually more likely to suffer a medical complication. (Related: Study Q&A)
Earlier studies have produced mixed results on the effects of praying for others. Dean Marek, a Catholic chaplain at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who helped supervise the study, says the findings won’t talk people out of asking God to help the people they love.
“What the study might do is help people more on the deeper realities of the meaning of prayer,” he says.