The Science of Prayer
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Written by Edie Weinstein-Moser   
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The Science of Prayer
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Focused prayer in healing has become a topic of wide-spread discussion.  According to Laurance Johnston, Ph.D.:

 Given that 94% of Americans believe in God or a higher power (1994 Gallup Poll), it is not surprising that 75% of patients think that their physician should address spiritual issues as part of their medical care. Furthermore, 40% want their physicians to actively discuss religious issues with them, and nearly 50% percent want their physicians to pray not just for them but with them. In a growing trend, 43 percent of American physicians privately pray for their patients. The May 1995 Journal of the American Medical Association asked, “Should Physicians Prescribe Prayer for Health?”  The mere presence of this article in this highly respected bastion of the medical profession suggests that the barrier between spirituality and health care is crumbling.

In addition to the effects of organized religion, prayer-like consciousness also has been shown to exert an influence, according to numerous scientific studies. Although the effects of organized religion can be explained through readily understandable mechanisms, the effects of prayer cannot. After reviewing the literature, Dr. Daniel Benor (Complementary Medical Research 4:1, 1990) found 131 controlled studies involving prayer or spiritual healing. Of these, 77 showed statistically significant results.

Prayer-like consciousness has been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, protect red blood cells, alter blood chemistry, and increase blood oxygenation. In one study, skin wounds healed at a much greater rate when treated with a spirituality-related treatment (perhaps a therapy option for pressure sores).

Quotation In one study, skin wounds healed at a much greater rate when treated with a spirituality-related treatment (perhaps a therapy option for pressure sores). Quotation
In a controversial study carried out by cardiologist Randolph Byrd (Southern Medical Journal, July 1988), nearly 400 heart patients were randomly assigned to either a group that was prayed for by a home prayer group, or a control group. This was a methodologically rigorous double-blind study designed to eliminate the psychological placebo effect. In such a study, neither the patient nor doctor knew who was receiving the intervention (i.e., prayer). Patients who received prayer had better health outcomes, including a reduced need for antibiotics and a lower incidence of pulmonary edema.

Prayer researcher Jack Stucki has carried out double-blind studies evaluating the effects of distant prayer on the body’s electromagnetic fields. In these studies, the electrical activity in both the brain and body surface were measured in subjects in his Colorado Springs laboratory. Nearly 1,000 miles away in California, spiritual groups would either pray or not pray for a subject. The electri cal activity measured in the prayed-for subjects was significantly altered, compared to controls. 

Mind over Matter?

 Consciousness researchers are looking to quantum physics to explain non-local phenomena such as distant prayer. For example, Bell’s theorem, which is supported by experimental evidence, indicates that once subatomic particles have been in contact, they always remain connected through a property called ‘quantum entanglement.’ A change in one creates a concurrent change in the other, even if they are a universe apart. Some physicists believe that these non-local events are not just limited to sub-atomic particles, but underlie everyday events, including prayer.  Researchers such as Dean Radin at IONS, Robert G. Jahn and Brenda Dunne at Princeton University’s Pear Lab, Germany’s IGPP Institute and others have performed and published numerous experiments demonstrating a weak but unmistakable mind-over-matter effect.



 


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