Friday, March 31, 2006

A New Survey Says Prayer Doesn't Work

There will always be doubters as to what God will do for those that trust in Him. How can you measure the faith of someone in a survey? To try and measure faith would be to doubt God's Word, which says, "without faith, it is impossible to please Him". (Hebrews 11:6).

It found that patients undergoing heart surgery did no better when they were prayed for by people unknown to them than those who received no prayers. But 59% of those patients who were told they were definitely being prayed for developed complications, compared with 52% of those who had been told it was just a possibility.

It would be impossible to measure PRAYER, or how it works, in a survey. I believe, if a person is a believer, and requests prayer, prays for themselves, or accepts the prayers of others, then prayer works! It encourages the person receiving prayer. I've heard it countless times - 'thanks for the prayers. They worked wonders.' But, there are those who doubt that they will receive anything through prayer, although they may ask for prayer. It's just the human mentality, or perhaps satan playing a number on the human mind.

Dr Bethea and his colleague, Harvard professor Herbert Benson, emphasised that their investigations had been restricted to "intercessory prayer" by strangers - excluding prayer from family members and oneself.

Praying for oneself has been shown in many studies to be effective.

At the beginning of the article, they say that the survey shows that "the health effects of prayer seems to suggest it will make it worse". Which way will they have it: it either works, or doesn't work. I believe it's all up to the person with faith; either they have it or they don't. They either believe what scripture says, or they don't. In other words, they believe or they don't. Jesus himself said, in Matthew 21:21 "Very I say unto you, if you have faith and doubt not" ------ and in Mark 11:23, "...but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. "

As Dave Burchett said, you tell God your desires. And, you know HE is in control! And, He has a plan. Speaking of his and his wife's experience:

I believe there will never be a "scientific" substantiation of the power of prayer to heal. That is because the reason for prayer is not telling God what to do and sitting back to wait for Him to jump through celestial hoops. I would, however, like to suggest that there is powerful anecdotal and experiential evidence of the power of prayer in our lives.


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10 Comments:

Cindy said...

let them do their surveys- they'll never convince me that prayer does not work- I've seen it work time and time again. Not too long ago a woman from our church was taken seriously and suddenly ill. I got a phone call as a member of the prayer chain and while on the phone I could hear God telling me to start praying immediately. I got off the phone and went to prayer. As I prayed I could sense that the woman was dying- I could see her progressing toward a brilliant light. I kept praying, an hour or more passed and suddenly I sensed that she was going to be okay. Later that day I learned that she had indeed been dying- she had told her family members goodbye and she could feel herself leaving this life, being drawn toward a light. I also learned later that the Dr.'s in the ER expressed amazement and outrightly stated that they had witnessed a miracle because they knew she was dying and there was not a thing they could do to save her. I know I was not the only one praying for her, there were many others as well but it just goes to show that prayer is powerful and it does work.

Barbara said...

Cindy, I agree with you. Surveys are just that- surveys. You can make a survey say anything you want - just ask the right questions - just like a poll.

I believe prayer also saved the life of my Daddy many years ago. He had cancer, and the Drs opened him up, sewed him back up, and told us 6 mos was going to be a long life for him. We refused to believe it, and so did he. He lived 13 more years, free of cancer!

jeffperado said...

Barbara, please help me out here. You said:
"It would be impossible to measure PRAYER, or how it works, in a survey. I believe, if a person is a believer, and requests prayer, prays for themselves, or accepts the prayers of others, then prayer works!"

Those two sentences are contradictory. If prayer works then that explicitly means that we, as humans, actually see an effect -- in this case sick people getting better. If we can see it, then is can be measured. Whereas, if it cannot be measured, as you claim, then there would be no way for us, as humans, to know that prayer worked.

It is very simple.

Besides, your thoughts on the amount of faith the people who prayed have is a red herring. Since, as you claim, it is impossible for us, as humans, to judge how much faith a person has, then there is no way to claim that the experiment failed because those who prayed simply didn't have enough faith.

You have hit upon the very thing that ought to prove to you that prayer is useless, you just need to do some more thinking on the clear contradiction you stated.

Just continue to think about how you (or any other believer) can "know" prayer works, yet be utterly helpless to measure that very same "work".

Linda Sargent said...

SURVEY SCHMURVEY. OY VEY.
Prayer works. God is Sovereign. He knows. He sees. He understands. He is not sitting up in Heaven with some cosmic WATS line deciding whether or not a request is too remote. From the ends of the earth His people call upon Him and are heard. His arm is not so short that He can't save.
Blog on, Barb. Prayer works. God heals. The devil hates that.

Barbara said...

No, Jeff, they aren't contradictory. Notice, I didn't say, 'if they are healed' ... I said, IF they are a believer --- and that is to say, when a person requests prayer, they don't know if it will be answered or not. But, prayer gives encouragement to a person requesting it, but you wouldn't understand that, I'm sure, since you don't believe it works, anyway.

Barbara said...

Linda, you are so right! God knows all. And, yes he does hear prayer. We may not get the answer that we personally want, but prayer is answered - in God's way, in God's time. I just pray and believe God will answer, and He does. There's nothing too big or too small for God to tend to for His children!

jeffperado said...

Actually I was referring to the amount of faith one has, that was the basis of my statement.

Maybe you can explain to me how one who has faith is completely different than one who is a believer then I can accept that I was wrong in concluding there is a contradiction. Since I don't see any difference in one having faith and one being a believer (if the one with faith in and the one believing are both focused on Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior).

Barbara said:
"But, prayer gives encouragement to a person requesting it, but you wouldn't understand that, I'm sure, since you don't believe it works, anyway."

That is quite a supposition on your part, how do you know what I do and do not understand, can you read the rest of my mind too?

But seriously, I do in fact understand, and I agree completely with you. Prayer does give encouragement to the person praying. That much is obvious. The problem is that anyone praying to any God or diety gets the exact same sense of encouragement. When I feel that need I often think to myself, "Oh, Energy of the Univese give me the strength to endure this hardship!" And it works! I manage to pull through and gain that bit of encouragement.

But that does not fix the problem. Nowhere do I deny that prayer makes the person praying (or even the person being prayed for) feel encouraged or even feel better. What I am denying is that praying actually physically cures. And as that was the point of the study, and the point you were making was that those who were praying must have not had the right amount of faith (or not been a real believer in your parlance) then the results are void.

That still leaves the problem that I pointed out: How can you say that if you don't know the true faith of the strangers who participated in the study. So you still cannot make any claims as to thye validity of the study, my point stands.

P.S. I have a neighbor who is an atheist. He had cancer seven years ago, and the doctors told him he had six months to live, yet he is still living seven years later. Proof positive prayer means nothing when it comes to healing!

Barbara said...

One can say they have ‘faith’ and be a believer, but the Word, as I said before, says IF you doubt, then you will not see the results you otherwise would.

Jeff:
"That is quite a supposition on your part, how do you know what I do and do not understand, can you read the rest of my mind too?"

I wasn’t trying to read your mind or even claim to – just going by what you had said.

Jeff:
"The problem is that anyone praying to any God or diety gets the exact same sense of encouragement. When I feel that need I often think to myself, "Oh, Energy of the Univese give me the strength to endure this hardship!" And it works! I manage to pull through and gain that bit of encouragement.
---------------------
WHO is your Energy of the Universe?
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Jeff:
"What I am denying is that praying actually physically cures."

I don’t think I had said that ‘prayer physically cures’.

Jeff:
"And as that was the point of the study, and the point you were making was that those who were praying must have not had the right amount of faith (or not been a real believer in your parlance) then the results are void."
---------------
No, I wasn’t saying that they didn’t have a certain amount of faith – for scripture says, ‘if you have the faith of a grain of mustard seed’ – it’s because of ‘unbelief’, not my Words, but those of the Lord.
--------------------------------

Jeff
"That still leaves the problem that I pointed out: How can you say that if you don't know the true faith of the strangers who participated in the study. So you still cannot make any claims as to the validity of the study, my point stands."

--------------
All I can say to you is this – the WORD says ‘IF you had the faith of a grain of mustard seed’......... Did those people have that kind of faith, without unbelief?
----------------------

Jeff:
"P.S. I have a neighbor who is an atheist. He had cancer seven years ago, and the doctors told him he had six months to live, yet he is still living seven years later. Proof positive prayer means nothing when it comes to healing!"

-------------------
DRS also make mistakes. Also, we don’t know God’s plans for our lives. His thoughts are not our thoughts, and his ways are not our ways.

By the way, my Daddy was operated on for cancer – sown up because they couldn’t chance doing anything – he would have died on the operating table. They gave him 6 mos as a long life. But, we prayed and believed – never doubted he would live, and he never gave into the cancer. He lived another 13 years, FREE of cancer. SO, you see, I still believe prayer works.

Jeremy Pierce said...

This wasn't a survey, as if people's opinions were being polled. It was a study. People were told they would be prayed for. They were then prayed for. Others were told they might be prayed for. Some of those were prayed for, and others were not. It turned out those who were told they were being prayed for had more medical problems, and the others didn't seem to have much effect one way or the other.

It's not clear what the survey shows. It doesn't say anything about those who are being prayed for in normal life, because the fact that this is an attempt to manipulate God may well be reason enough not to expect him to cooperate. But don't try to be anti-intellectual and treat a scientific study as if it's just an opinion poll. This was as scientific a study as any other. It's just that this may be the sort of thing that you shouldn't expect a scientific study to give the right results on.

Albert Ip said...

Hi Just curious, if you are sick, do you pray or do you seek modern medicine (ie see a doctor)?