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New Major Study Questions the Power of Prayer

A vital tool that helps your body heal the deepest aches and pains no drug or therapy can touch is also one of the simplest: The wonderful power of prayer. A recent study attempting to quantify the effect of prayer on the health of 1,800 heart bypass patients, however, may confuse you a bit.

Before patients had their bypass, church groups of about 70 members prayed for one set of patients for two weeks versus a "placebo" group who received no prayers at all. There was no difference in the rate of survival or complications among heart patients, save one: Those who knew people were praying for them experienced a slightly higher risk of post-surgical arrhythmias. Some experts believe that physical problem could be attributed to a stressed-out reaction to prayer, not terribly unlike being given the last rites.

Fact is, the power of prayer is a tool whose efficacy can't be measured or increased artificially seventy-fold by man. Prayer just doesn't work that way, and most people don't expect it to either.

A factor that would've made a big difference in these results: Having close relationships with friends who pray for you as you do for them. And, besides, the track record of prayer, as it intersects with science, is solid and impressive.

American Heart Journal, Vol. 151, No. 4, April 2006: 762-764 Free Full Text Study

Scientific American.com June 19, 2006

Science and Theology News June 21, 2006

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