scientific study examines the power of prayer
Does Prayer Work? Everyman, Thursday 23 October, 9.00pm, BBC TWO
of the biggest multi-faith prayer experiments ever devised has concluded
that prayer made no significant difference to the outcomes of the
cardiac patients involved.
an earlier pilot study suggesting prayer could have a measurably
beneficial effect, the experiment revealed that the recovery rates
of the heart patients who were prayed for were no different from
those who weren't.
by cardiologists from Duke University Medical Center, the MANTRA
study investigated the value of prayer on healing and tested whether
patients recovered more readily if they were prayed for.
three year study involved 750 heart patients from throughout the
USA and 26 prayer groups from throughout the world including Christians
in Manchester, Buddhists in Nepal and Sufi Moslems in America.
of the patients in the study were prayed for but nobody involved
in the study, including the participants, knew which half.
preliminary study results were announced yesterday (Tuesday 14 October)
at the Second Conference on the Integration of Complementary Medicine
into Cardiology, a meeting sponsored by the American College of
study findings showed that prayer made no significant difference
to the long term health of the patients involved.
Mitchell Krucoff, who led the research, concluded: "The most
basic data tables are negative; there is no difference."
there were certain anomalies in the data. The
results indicated that prayer may help reduce patients' distress
Patricia, from the Carmelite Monastery in Baltimore, says: "A
person can be healed in ways were not aware of.
their heart wasn't healed in this particular study but... maybe
they're meant to be ready for death in a fuller way... that's healing
prayer groups were also added to the study, post September 11th,
to pray for the initial prayer groups involved.
the results also indicated that a 'higher dose' of prayer may have
had an effect on the results.
critics of such studies believe that you cannot put God to the test.
Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Tom Wright, says: "Prayer is not
a penny in the slot machine, you can't just put in a coin and get
out a chocolate bar at the bottom.
is like setting an exam for God to see if God will pass it or not."
progress of the experiment - from the early stages of enrolment
to the final revelation of the results - is the subject of Does
Prayer Work? Everyman, to be shown on BBC TWO on Thursday 23 October
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