Scientists will study anything. In this case, researchers were interested in whether long distance prayer would affect the recovery of 1800 heart bypass surgery patients. The results found that it did not. Patients who were prayed for had just as many complications as those who weren’t prayed for.
That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a God or that you praying by yourself or having others pray with you isn’t beneficial. It just means that there’s no scientific evidence that having a support network of people who you don’t know pray for you will help you recover faster.
The new $2.4 million study, funded primarily by the John Templeton Foundation, was designed to overcome some of those shortcomings. Dusek and his colleagues divided 1,802 bypass patients at six hospitals into three groups. Two groups were uncertain whether they would be the subject of prayers. The third was told they would be prayed for.
The researchers recruited two Catholic groups and one Protestant group to pray ‘for a successful surgery with a quick, healthy recovery and no complications’ for 14 days for each patient, beginning the night before the surgery, using the patient’s first name and the first initial of the last name.
Over the next month, patients in the two groups that were uncertain whether they were the subject of prayers fared virtually the same, with about 52 percent experiencing complications regardless of whether they were the subject of prayers.
Surprisingly, however, 59 percent of the patients who knew they were the targets of prayer experienced complications.
Source: Associated Press, March 31, 2006