Study Questions Power of Prayer

Prayers offered by strangers had no effect on the recovery of people who were undergoing heart surgery, a large and long-awaited study has found.

And patients who knew they were being prayed for had a higher rate of post-operative complications like abnormal heart rhythms, perhaps because of the expectations the prayers created, the researchers suggested.

Because it is the most scientifically rigorous investigation of whether prayer can heal illness, the study, begun almost a decade ago and involving more than 1,800 patients, has for years been the subject of speculation.

In the study, the researchers monitored 1,802 patients at six hospitals who received coronary bypass surgery, in which doctors reroute circulation around a clogged vein or artery.

The patients were broken into three groups. Two were prayed for; the third was not. Half the patients who received the prayers were told that they were being prayed for; half were told that they might or might not receive prayers.

The researchers asked the members of three congregations — St. Paul’s Monastery in St. Paul; the Community of Teresian Carmelites in Worcester, Mass.; and Silent Unity, a Missouri prayer ministry near Kansas City — to deliver the prayers, using the patients’ first names and the first initials of their last names.

The congregations were told that they could pray in their own ways, but they were instructed to include the phrase, “for a successful surgery with a quick, healthy recovery and no complications.”

Analyzing complications in the 30 days after the operations, the researchers found no differences between those patients who were prayed for and those who were not.

In another of the study’s findings, a significantly higher number of the patients who knew that they were being prayed for — 59 percent — suffered complications, compared with 51 percent of those who were uncertain. The authors left open the possibility that this was a chance finding. But they said that being aware of the strangers’ prayers also may have caused some of the patients a kind of performance anxiety.

“It may have made them uncertain, wondering am I so sick they had to call in their prayer team?” Dr. Bethea said.

The study also found that more patients in the uninformed prayer group — 18 percent — suffered major complications, like heart attack or stroke, compared with 13 percent in the group that did not receive prayers. In their report, the researchers suggested that this finding might also be a result of chance.

But they said that being aware of the strangers’ prayers also may have caused some of the patients a kind of performance anxiety.

“It may have made them uncertain, wondering am I so sick they had to call in their prayer team?” Dr. Bethea said.

The study also found that more patients in the uninformed prayer group — 18 percent — suffered major complications, like heart attack or stroke, compared with 13 percent in the group that did not receive prayers. In their report, the researchers suggested that this finding might also be a result of chance.

The only logical conclusion from the God-Did-It point of view is that he reviewed their cases and decided to make them suffer some more. Clearly one should not invoke God and try to slip through life unnoticed. Ia.

That is clearly the lession. Keep a low profile.

The study also found that more patients in the uninformed prayer group — 18 percent — suffered major complications, like heart attack or stroke, compared with 13 percent in the group that did not receive prayers. In their report, the researchers suggested that this finding might also be a result of chance.

What was the alternative explanation? A vengeful God? Terrible.

Proof that god hates smartasses and science.

Seriously, you guys, you are missing the key problem here. The people only prayed with first name and initial. There’s probably hundreds of thousands of people who meet each given search parameter.

God probably looked at the amount of search results, and say “fuck it, I don’t have time to figure this shit out” and applied the prayer bonus to the first guy in this list, which most likely wasn’t the guy getting surgery.

Alternately, after grabbing the first search result for the incomplete names, and doing this a few times, and seeing that that person wasn’t having surgery, he said “Man, this fucking church is full of cranks, I don’t have time for this shit” and then proceeded to ignore the rest of what they said.

What we need is to construct a prayer machine. I believe (and so therefore I’m right) if properly blessed, the machine would be more than capable of commune with the almighty forces of the universe and able to maintain the privacy of the stricken and cursed.

Barring that, IBM speech synthesis is getting pretty good; it would probably catch God off guard. Just set it and forget it.

For me, the efficacy of prayer and religious practice as a method of controlling contested outcomes was settled by the 1989 major motion picture, Major League.

I built one of those, but it’s less of a prayer machine and more of a dodgeball machine.

I thought you said it was a time machine!

MattKeil- Almost. Dodgeball cannon. Cannon.

Flowers- Are you trying to say Jesus couldn’t hit a curveball?

I’d hardly consider a study on the prayers from Benedictine sisters, Carmelite Catholics, and resurfaced New Age type Christians as conclusive. Where are the wacky-assed bible thumping evangelicals? Hellfire and damnation Baptists are also under-represented in the study. Where are the regulation Roman Catholics? How about the Jews?

Oh wait, nevermind. I forgot. QT3.

LOL JEEBUS!!1! yuk yuk yuk

I have a friend (kind of air quotes there) who is a minister. He just posted a picture of his brother, his head wrapped in bandages, with a tube sticking out of his head. Apparently the brother is having a hard time recovering from brain surgery for reasons that are…you know…medical.

My friend’s post ends with the following, “PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY!”

Good lord. If you have to ask your god that you’ve devoted your life to to save your brother’s life, what is the fucking point? I mean are we supposed imagine this conversation?

God: “Well. a hundred people are praying.”
Prayer Ledger Guy: “Not enough to stop this dude’s suffering.”
God: “Oh well. Back to watching NFL players point to me after touchdowns.”

I mean seriously. Have we reduced god to waiting for a certain amount of “Likes” before He will bother?

Not that I think he exists, but what are they thinking? If enough people pray for my brother after his brain surgery, maybe we’ll get his attention?

-xtien

“God’s a kid with an ant farm, lady. He’s not planning anything.”

If they were thinking at all, they wouldn’t be theists.

A children’s cancer ward is all the proof you need that God does not exist. And if he does, he should be put on trial for murder.

I guess lots of cancer researchers are morons then.

Some of us find comfort in our faith and realize that the world is a horribly complex place with a lot of shit going on that we don’t like or understand. We don’t always know why shit happens, but that’s true whether there is a god or not. So, don’t shit on us but out faith is one more thing you can’t understand

I think a fair portion of it is social — requests for prayer may or may not be based on a sincere faith, but letting people know that your brother is going through some shit and may need support from his community (lasagna, babysitting, etc) is a worthwhile result of the “call for prayer”.

I have lots of uncharitable things to say, but I’ll skip all that and say that I’m sorry this guy is going through all that, and I hope he has people in his life doing more to actually help him than whoring out his misery for a few quanta of social media validation (and I certainly don’t mean Xtien here).

It helps people feel like they have some measure of control over their environment, even if that power is entirely illusory.

It doesn’t bother me, as long as they aren’t talking a sick person into the “power of prayer” over actual real medical intervention.

I realize rationally you are right in making this point. And I understand when I’m going through a tough time, like when my infant son had heart surgery, my mom would say she was praying–and setting up a prayer chain–as a way of showing me she loved me, loved us. She was expanding that circle of love through her church community as a sort of comfort for me. So I do see your point here.

I guess with all the “thoughts and prayers” solutions to gun violence, I don’t see it helping. Furthermore I’m angry that a good person has to go through such personal pain. But that is a part of life.

-xtien