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The data is in. One of the best-kept secrets in medicine is out of the bag. Prayer works. In a landmark study, prayer was tested in heart patients in a large hospital. Half the patients were prayed for...

source : http://health.discovery.com/centers/althealth/prayer/enrich.html 
 

Tap Into the Power of Prayer

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By Bobbie Lieberman
for
discovery.com

The data is in. One of the best-kept secrets in medicine is out of the bag. Prayer works.

In a landmark study in the 1980s, prayer was tested in heart patients in a large hospital. Half the patients were prayed for; half (the "controls") were not. The results revealed a significant therapeutic effect from the prayer. Even more interesting, the distant or intercessory prayer worked without the knowledge of the recipient, reports Larry Dossey, MD, in "Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine."

The Faithful Live Longer Lives
And, in what may be the first national investigation of religion's link to longevity, a nine-year study involving 22,000 people found that regular worshipers (both Christian and non-Christian) lived 10% longer than those who never attend services.

The life expectancy for those who attend church weekly was 82 years. Another year of life was added for those who attended more than once per week. In contrast, non-churchgoers lived an average of 75 years.

Many questioned the validity of the study, published in the May 1999 issue of Demography magazine, noting that regular churchgoers tend to lead healthier lifestyles, therefore increasing their longevity. Yet the researchers had adjusted their findings for respondents' incomes, alcohol and tobacco use, marital status and body mass and still came up with their clear conclusions: non-worshipers have the highest risk of early death, and risk decreases as church attendance increases.

"We think there is some cause and effect going on here, beyond health and socio-economics," said Robert Hummer, a University of Texas sociologist and one of the authors, quoted in a story about the study in USA Today. "It does seem that behavior is influenced by church or religious involvement, (and) that affects life expectancy."

What Is Prayer?
Traditionally speaking, prayer is a supplication—asking for something. With prayer, we are usually asking God for something or wishing for things to be different than they are. In meditation, by contrast, we are listening for God to speak to us. Spiritual teacher Sharon Callahan of Mt. Shasta, Calif., often invites her students to do both each day by "asking and listening receptively."

Whether you pray or meditate, entering the silence on a regular basis—in effect, giving yourself a "time out" from the constant "doingness" of daily life—can help guide you toward physical, emotional and spiritual health. When you stop to pray for the answer to a question you can't solve, you may discover that the solution shows up in the space you've created.

When you include prayer in your daily life, says Catholic and cardiologist Stephen Sinatra, MD, "You may become more open to life, more flexible, more centered. You may find it easier to resolve your problems and cope with stressful situations. Your relationships with others will deepen."

Dr. Sinatra often recommends that his patients consult the book "The Miracle of Prayer" by Rosemary Ellen Guiley and consider her seven essential practices to enrich prayer life.

source : http://health.discovery.com/centers/althealth/prayer/tapinto.html

Enrich Your Prayer Life: Seven Essential Practices

Be honest with yourself and God.

Make every thought a prayer—your thoughts create your reality.

Make your life your prayer—in other words, "walk your talk."

Pray regularly—not just when you have a crisis or special need. Develop your own morning and evening prayer rituals.

Pray in a group—it's both comforting and powerful.

Be willing to trust and surrender completely, turning the matter over to God. It may be difficult to surrender, especially in the middle of a crisis, but the more you pray that God's will—not yours—be done, and the more you are willing to surrender, the more you can trust in your faith that all will be well.

Give thanks—every time you pray, be grateful that you are blessed with your life and the continued opportunities that you have to connect with others. When you experience feelings of appreciation, your heartbeat becomes more rhythmic, skipping fewer beats.

Source: "The Miracle of Prayer," by Rosemary Ellen Guiley.

 

Develop Your Own Prayer Rituals

Joan Borysenko, Ph.D., suggests developing your own prayer ritual in the morning when you awake and again at night, just before bedtime. It may be a very simple act, such as a morning prayer or simple meditation. Keep it brief, but deeply meaningful for you, she advises. "The moment I cover myself with a prayer shawl, for me that's being wrapped in the wings of God," she says.

Borysenko, who for the last 35 years has studied the world's spiritual and religious traditions, has been engaged in an ongoing process of returning to her Jewish roots. She was recently enchanted with a book and audiotape that a friend gave her called The Busy Soul, by Rabbi Terry Buchman.

What Buchman has done is "extract the most meaningful part of the Jewish morning prayers and create a tape 15 minutes long, so by the end of the 'spiritual workout,' I feel completely centered in a tradition I'm slowly trying to return to. This has been very grounding for me," reports Borysenko.

In designing your prayer practices, involve as many of your senses as you can, advises Borysenko, who regularly leads women's spiritual retreats. "When you can see, smell and touch, so that it's not only visual, but tactile, you imbue it with your intention. Then it becomes sacred."

Joan Borysenko's Three-Part Prayer Ritual
To complete the day, Borysenko uses a three-part practice from her Jewish prayer book, which has much in common with all traditions and can be adapted to your own.

First comes a "retrospection of the day, where you look and see what is out of 'right relationship' in your life and think about it. Can you correct it via an attitude, or do you need to phone someone or write a letter? Once that is done, I recite an affirmation that we are all one, that everything in the universe is united, connected."

In the third part, she surrounds herself with four archangels and calls down the feminine face of God over her like a quilt, and gives her soul to God for safekeeping for the night. In the morning, she again thanks God for returning her soul to her body.

While she believes that prayer and mediation are quite different, an area of overlap can be found in contemplative prayer—where your only prayer is for "union with the divine. You're not asking for a darn thing," says Borysenko. "Contemplative prayer is simply 'God-Union.' It's not about listening, but being, and that is true of all forms of meditation.

"Don't worry about what it's called, or whether you're 'doing it right.' Just pray from your heart. As the practice becomes part of your daily life and 'first recourse,' you will find that becomes as natural as breathing."

Source : http://health.discovery.com/centers/althealth/prayer/enrich.html 
 

Another Way to Pray

If you're having difficulty settling into prayer, you may want to try The Relaxation Response method developed by Harvard researcher Herbert Benson, MD.

Here's what you do: Choose a simple prayer or statement reflecting your spiritual roots. For example, you could use the word "shalom" or "om," or the phrase "The Lord is my shepherd" or "Hail Mary, full of grace." After you have chosen your phrase, close your eyes, relax your body and mind and engage in deep breathing, by inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Say your word or phrase silently as you exhale. When stray thoughts come by, gently release them and continue your mantra. To achieve relaxation, use this technique for at least 10 to 15 minutes each day.

Reconnect with Your Religion of Origin
In all her years of study, Joan Borysenko has found that "What people often do is discount their own religion of origin—they may still be angry with it...yet the prayers, the music and ritual are deeply embedded at the cellular level.

"So many people feel they have been personally wounded by religion, or they see the wounds that religion has dealt to other groups—everything from the Inquisition to patriarchy to the kind of opinion that says 'my way is the only way.' Many people, particularly Baby Boomers who are interested in spirituality, have to heal their religious wounds and forgive the churches and synagogues of their childhood before they can be spiritually open.

"Just as forgiveness is such an important part of your peace of mind in your relationship with individuals, your relationship to God and your place of worship also needs to be healed. I've done a lot of helping people to heal their religious wounds so they don't throw the baby out with the bath water."

In this regard, prayer, along with music, candles, incense and other rituals, can be bridges to healing these wounds. Music is "prayers that are sung. You hear a song, and your heart flies open. There is a place no deeper. Your cells can really drink deeply."

Does Anyone Have a Clue Why Prayer Works?
Not yet. Ultimately, the answer may be found in quantum or subatomic mechanics, a theory developed 100 years ago that attempts to describe how matter behaves at its most fundamental level.

Says Larry Dossey, MD, also the author of "Reinventing Medicine": "In quantum physics, which concerns itself with the smallest dimensions of the physical world, several experiments in the last two decades have revealed the existence of what are termed nonlocal events. Briefly: If two subatomic particles that have been in contact are separated, a change in one is correlated with a change in the other, instantly and to the same degree, no matter how far apart they may be. These distant events are said to be nonlocal."

He goes on to speculate that intercessory prayer bears strong resemblance to the nonlocal events studied by physicists. But that's just one possibility...and he concludes that we may never know how prayer works until we understand how consciousness itself works: "Science cannot measure the unmeasurable."

Dossey reminds us that the primary function of prayer is not only to help heal the sick or lengthen our lives, but to simultaneously remind us of our essential nature. Yet imagine what modern health care would be like if we actually routinely applied prayer in the treatment of illness and disease.

source : http://health.discovery.com/centers/althealth/prayer/enrich.html
 

Prayer Meets Science

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www.dependency.faithweb.com Reports

OOPS! Scientific Evidence Finally Supports The Notion Of Prayer Changing Mind States.
This is a story of modern medical technology meeting the ancient art of prayer. University of Pennsylvania medical doctors led by Andrew Newberg, author of "Why God Won't Go Away: Brain Science & the Biology of Belief," used medical imaging to map what happens to the human brain during the transcendental state of prayer. The BBC's Discovery reports that the scientists compared the brain images of Buddhist monks who were deep in prayer with a baseline image taken in a normal state. The result? During prayer, the monks' brains underwent actual physical changes.

The activity in the frontal brain increased; this is the area we use when we are concentrating on particular task. However, there was a marked decrease in the activity in the back part of the brain that controls the sense of being oriented to a location and place. This is significant because the Penn scientists think this may explain why those who are deep in prayer have a lack of spatial awareness and an abiding sense of being elsewhere.

In addition to understanding the power of prayer, this body-spirit-mind research could also be used with hypnotherapy to help people cope with long-term illnesses. Newberg told the BBC, "When someone has a mystical experience, they perceive that sense of reality to be far greater and far clearer than our usual everyday sense of reality."

I don't think that this finding should come as any earth shattering discovery as meditation has been employed by not only religion for centuries, but drug users as well. Prayer and meditation does change the body. But the studies have not proved that what is prayed for or meditated about has ever come to pass. Or have they? See Below U.S. government funds research on prayer and health By UWE SIEMON-NETTO, UPI Religion Correspondent NEW YORK, Nov. 13 (UPI)

-- U.S. scientists launched a five-year study to determine if prayer intervention can improve the health of cancer patients. The enterprise was funded by the National Institutes of Health, a federal agency, and was reported in the November issue of the Research News journal.
The project was centered on black women in the early stages of breast cancer. According to Research News, blacks were chosen over whites because "African American women have a higher propensity to use spiritual healing than white women." Moreover, "They have been found to be more vulnerable to stress associated with postoperative social functioning." The paper pointed to scientific evidence that stress weakens the mechanisms of a person's immune system. This increased the likelihood that a patient's tumor will recur or spread.

One task of the research project was to learn if a statement from the Epistle of James can be "scientifically validated," the journal said, The text reads, "Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him" (James 5:14). The study was conducted by Dr. Diane Becker of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md.; and Dr. Harold G. Koenig of Duke University in Durham, N.C. Koenig, an associate professor of medicine and psychiatry, has been studying the effects of religion on health for 15 years.

A Johns Hopkins research nurse was randomly recruiting 40 patients with early breast cancer that has neither spread to other organs nor infiltrated the fatty tissue, muscle or bone around the breast. The study does not begin until one or two months after surgery and radiation treatment, Research News explained.

The participants would then meet a "comfort leader." This is a cancer survivor known for her strong religious convictions and prayer life. She "has been specially trained to be a witness to the women recovering from breast cancer." The "comfort leader" will help the patient to organize and run a prayer group that may include five to eight friends or members of her church. For 24 weeks they were to follow a special prayer guide containing messages from the Bible. The patient and her group will then pursue an ancient Judeo-Christian way of communicating with the Divine. It is called Centering Prayer, was practiced in the Medieval Church and then almost forgotten until three Trappist monks in Spencer, Mass., rediscovered it in the 1970s.

At any given time, participants of a Centering Prayer session choose only one sacred word from Scripture. This word -- for example, grace, love, mercy, or Jesus -- would serve as a symbol of the supplicant's consent to God's presence and action. In Becker's and Koenig's research project, the patients and their groups were to meet twice a day at a quiet place for at least 20 minutes. They were to close their eyes and silently think the Scriptural word they had previously agreed upon. The idea is that they would be resting in God. Should their thoughts drift, however, they would return to their chosen word to focus once again on the Divine.

The method differs from the ritualized and conversational prayers of traditional Christianity and meditation as practiced by eastern religions. In Centering Prayer sessions, participants "avoid analyzing their experience, harboring expectations or aiming at some specific goal such as repeating the sacred words continuously, having no thoughts, making the mind a blank, feeling peaceful, consoled, or achieving a spiritual presence," Research News writes. "Those who guide centered prayer groups warn that often a person will feel tingling as the body relaxes," the paper reported. "This is just tension slowly oozing away. " Another attribute of "deep spiritual attentiveness" is that one's extremities feel heavy.

Koenig hoped that in the long term the findings from this study "will give women and their religious communities a powerful tool for combating breast cancer." He said he believed that "getting the patients' minds off their disease makes a big difference."Even more important, though, is that Centering Prayer would battle stress caused by cancer. It would do so by giving the patients "a sense of hope, social and psychological support, a positive belief system, and a sense of personal control through prayer."

While most religions teach that prayer intervention helps a patient, trying to validate "extra-personal spirituality" scientifically is a relatively new endeavor. One of its pioneers is Randolph C. Byrd, a San Francisco cardiologist. In 1988, he chronicled the therapeutic effects of intercessory prayer in a provoking study.It analyzed 393 coronary care patients who were divided into two sections. One group was made up of patients who were not prayed for. But for the other group's members prayers were said regularly. Byrd discovered that the latter patients suffered significantly less from congestive heart failure, had fewer cardiopulmonary arrests, used fewer antibiotics and diuretics, had less pneumonia and were less frequently intubated.

Even more surprising," wrote the journal, Science & Spirit, "is the revelation that the patients...did not know that they were being prayed for, nor did their doctors." Science & Spirit concluded, "Byrd's study suggests that religiosity is a kind of antibiotic."

This is what Koenig trusted his research program would prove as well. According to Research News, "He hopes that research such as this will open the door to more studies on the effect that prayer may have on other diseases influenced by immune system activity, including AIDS."

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- As a reasonably intelligent person, I find that this is evidence that God does indeed exist and "The Big Bang Theory" should not be able to occupy credible space in serious science. But then again, I'll be long dead and buried by the time all the facts are in for the skeptics

Source : http://www.dependency.faithweb.com/evidence_of_prayer_.htm

Reality Check

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The Science of Prayer

Victor J. Stenger

Praying for yourself may help you. Or it may harm you. Or it may do nothing at all. Each of these is possible, by purely material brain-body interactions with nothing supernatural required. And, praying for another person with his or her knowledge might also help, again by purely material means, in reducing that person's stress. But it can also hurt by adding more stress. Many studies on prayer and health can be found in the literature and I do not have the space to review them all. Instead I will focus on the popular book Healing Words by physician Larry Dossey in which he reports on "an enormous body of evidence: over one hundred experiments exhibiting the criteria of good science, many conducted under stringent laboratory conditions, over half of which showed that prayer brings about significant changes in a variety of living beings."1 One wonders why he would even count those that were not conducted under stringent laboratory conditions.

Dossey refers to a survey by Daniel J. Benor, M.D., published in the journal Complementary Healing Research, of experiments dealing with healing effects of prayer on enzymes, cells, yeasts, bacteria, plants, animals, and human beings.2 According to Dossey's summary of Benor's results, researchers have performed 131 controlled trials. Of these, fifty-six show "statistically significant results at a probability level of <0.01 or better (that is, the likelihood that the results were due to chance was less than 1 in 100)." Another twenty-one studies "demonstrate results at a probability level of 0.02 to 0.05 or better (that is, the likelihood that the results were due to chance was between 2 and 5 chances in 100)."

Dossey is incorrect in his interpretation of the statistical significance of these experimental results, making a common mistake one finds in many papers and books. The "probability level" quoted in most scientific papers is usually what statisticians call the "p-value." For example, suppose an effect is reported with a p-value of five percent. This means that in a long sequence of identical experiments we would expect to observe an effect as great or greater produced by statistical fluctuations in five percent of the cases. This not the same as "the likelihood [or probability] that the results were due to chance." In fact, it is always possible to get any observed effect by chance. You simply have to repeat the experiment enough times.

In any case, Dossey informs us that "ten of the studies are unpublished doctoral dissertations, two are masters' theses, and the rest are published primarily in parapsychological journals." He asserts that "these publications have peer review standards as rigorous as many medical journals."

However, as I have mentioned before in this column, the standards of medical journals are quite low compared to other science fields such as physics. This is presumably necessary to assure that useful therapies are not kept from needy patients for too long. Unlike physicians, however, physicists and parapsychologists are not in the business of saving lives but rather that of investigating extraordinary phenomena. Those who search for evidence of psychic or spiritual phenomena should be bound by the stricter standards of physics and other fields which deal with extraordinary claims. After all, the scientific confirmation of such phenomena would be of world-shaking significance.

No respectable physics journal would publish a result with a p-value of one percent. If it did, every hundredth paper or so would contain a false claim that was only a statistical artifact, wreaking havoc with the whole research enterprise. In fact, the publication standard in physics is typically a p-value of 0.01 percent, that is, only one in 10,000 similar experiments would be expected to produce the reported effect or a greater one as a statistical fluctuation. If this standard were applied to Dossey's sample, none of the 131 trials mentioned above would be published.

The same can be said for all the intercessory prayer studies that have been published in medical journals, accompanied by great media hype. For example, cardiologist Randolph Byrd has claimed evidence that coronary patients benefitted from blind, distant intercessory prayer. But his p-value is only five percent.3 Such results would be expected from statistical fluctuations alone every twenty experiments, on average. Another study along the same line as Byrd's has been published in a major medical journal, Archives of Internal Medicine, with nine coauthors.4 There, positive results are reported at a p-value is four percent, but for different criteria than Byrd's. In fact, they fail to confirm Byrd's specific results.

Dossey is simply wrong when he says the evidence is "simply overwhelming that prayer functions at a distance to change physical processes in a variety of organisms, from bacteria to humans." Even without examining the detailed protocols of these experiments, the statistical significance is insufficient to draw such a conclusion. We have no idea how many experiments may have been done that gave no positive effects and consequently were never published (the "filedrawer effect"). These papers should not have been published either.

This article is abstracted from my latest book, Has Science Found God? The Latest Results in the Search for Purpose in the Universe, to be published by Prometheus Books. Thanks to Bill Jefferys for helping me clarify the statistical issues.

Notes

Larry Dossey, Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine (San Francisco: Harper, 1993).

Daniel J. Benor, Survey of spiritual healing research. Complementary Medical Research 4, no. 1 (1990):9-33.

Randolph C. Byrd, Positive therapeutic effects of intercessory prayer in a coronary care unit population, Southern Medical Journal 81, no. 7 (1988):826-29.

W.S. Harris, M. Gowda, J.W. Kolb, C.P. Strychacz, J.L. Vacek, P.G. Jones, A. Forker, J.H. O'Keefe, and B.D. McCallister, A randomized, controlled trial of the effects of remote, intercessory prayer on outcomes in patients admitted to the coronary care unit, Archives of Internal Medicine 159 (1999): 2273-8.

 

About the Author

Victor J. Stenger is professor emeritus of physics and astronomy at the University of Hawaii and now lives in the state of Colorado. He can be reached at vstenger@mindspring.com His Web site is still located at http://spot.colorado.edu/~vstenger/ He thanks members of the Internet discussion groups and avoid-l discussion lists for their comments on this column

Source : http://www.csicop.org/sb/2001-12/reality-check.html
 

SCIENCE AND PRAYER

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THERE IS GROWING SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE THAT PRAYER WORKS IN HEALING.
 

WE BELIEVE THE EVIDENCE FOR THE EFFECTIVENESS OF PRAYER IS GOOD AND WILL CONTINUE TO GROW. TO STUDY THE EFFECTIVENESS IT IS, HOWEVER, NECESSARY TO STUDY GROUPS. IT IS TO BE EXPECTED, THEREFORE, THAT SCIENCE WILL BE ABLE TO SHOW JUST STATISTICAL BENEFITS OF PRAYER THIS IS TO BE EXPECTED FROM THE PROCESS OF STUDYING A COMPLEX GROUP OF ANY SORT AND IS EVEN TRUE IN PHYSICS WHEN STUDYING COMPARATIVELY VERY SIMPLE NUCLEAR PARTICLE SYSTEMS.

THIS LIMITATION OF SCIENCE IS A BASIC FACT FOR INDIVIDUALS ALONE OR INDIVIDUALS IF THEY ARE PART OF A GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO HAS BEEN PRAYED FOR. THE FACT THAT THE EFFECT ON INDIVIDUALS CANNOT BE ADDRESSED BY SCIENCE SAYS NOTHING NEGATIVE ABOUT PRAYER. FOR ONE THING, HUMAN BEINGS AND THEIR LIVES ARE TOO COMPLEX FOR SIMPLE YES OR NO STUDY ANSWERS.

A SECOND FACT IS THAT BY DEFINITION, IF THE PRAYER IS FOR AN INDIVIDUAL (OR A GROUP), AS SOON AS THE PRAYER IS PRAYED, IT IS NOT LONGER POSSIBLE TO KNOW WHAT THE OUTCOME WOULD HAVE BEEN WITHOUT PRAYER FOR THAT INDIVIDUAL OR INDIVIDUAL WITHIN A GROUP (IN EACH INDIVIDUAL CASE.) THIS FACT ELIMINATE INHERENTLY ANY CERTAINTY THAT PRAYER DID OR DID NOT WORK FOR AN INDIVIDUAL.

IT IS, NEVERTHELESS, SCIENTIFICALLY MEANINGFUL TO PERFORM EXPERIMENTS IN WHICH SOME GROUPS ARE PRAYED FOR (AS INDIVIDUALS OR AS A GROUP) AND COMPARE THE FUTURE CONDITION OF THAT GROUP TO THE CONDITION AT THE SAME TIME IN THE FUTURE OF ANOTHER GROUP WHICH DID NOT RECEIVE PRAYER. ONE CAN THEN DO A MATHEMATICAL STATISTICAL ANALYSIS AND LOOK AT THE GROUP AVERAGE AND WORST CASE AND BEST CASE OUTCOMES OF INDIVIDUALS IN EACH GROUP.

ALL THAT IS REQUIRED IS TO HAVE SOME OBJECTIVE MEASURE TO USE WHICH IS STRONGLY CORRELATED TO THE NATURE OF THE PRAYERS. THE MEASURE CAN EVEN BE THE HEALTH OF A MOUSE. CNN NETWORK REFERENCE TO SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS ON THE HEALING POWER OF PRAYER EVEN ON MICE! <http://www.cnn.com/HEALTH/9607/13/nfm/healing/> EVEN THIS AMAZING RESULT DOES NOT RESULT IN CERTAINTY AND WOULD NOT BE EXPECTED TO DO SO, DUE TO THE MANY FACTORS WHICH CAN EFFECT THE OUTCOME IN ADDITION TO PRAYER. WITH SUCH TESTS, IT CAN, HOWEVER, BE SHOWN TO A SIGNIFICANT DEGREE OF PROBABILITY THAT PRAYER IS BENEFICIAL IN HEALING. MANY STUDIES HAVE SHOWN THIS TO BE THE CASE <http://dir.ansme.com/science/834661.html><http://dir.ansme.com/science/834661.html>

WHEN EXPERIMENTS ARE DONE, IT IS GENERALLY NOT POSSIBLE TO AVOID EFFECTING THE KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF THE EXPERIMENT HAD NOT BEEN PERFORMED. IT IS FUNDAMENTALLY TRUE THAT WHEN PRAYER IS INVOKED, THAT THIS AUTOMATICALLY REMOVES THE INFORMATION OF WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED TO THAT INDIVIDUAL WITHOUT PRAYER. INTERESTINGLY, THIS IS VERY SIMILAR TO EXPERIMENTS DONE IN QUANTUM MECHANICS IN PHYSICS. IN QUANTUM MECHANICAL EXPERIMENTS ON SUBATOMIC PARTICLES INDIVIDUALLY, THE EXPERIMENTAL SETUP EFFECTS THE OUTCOME. THE EXPERIMENTAL SETUP PRECLUDES CERTAIN RESULTS FROM OCCURRING. THE EXPERIMENTS WITH NUCLEAR PARTICLES RESULT IN PROBABILITY CALCULATIONS VERY SIMILAR TO THOSE FROM THE STUDIES ON PRAYER.

SCIENCE CANNOT VALIDLY ARGUE THAT A TEST OF THE EFFICACY OF PRAYER IS INVALID BECAUSE THE EXPERIMENT CANNOT BE DONE ON INDIVIDUAL. NOR CAN SCIENCE ARGUE THAT SINCE THE EFFECT OF PRAYER CANNOT BE DETERMINED TO A HIGH DEGREE OF PROBABILITY FOR AN INDIVIDUAL, THAT EXPERIMENTS ON GROUPS OF INDIVIDUALS IS NOT A VALID EXPERIMENT. IF, AS IS THE CASE, PRAYER IS SHOWN TO HAVE A POSITIVE STATISTICAL EFFECT ON A GROUP, THAT IS VALID PROOF OF THE BENEFITS OF PRAYER.

source : http://www.sciencetruth.com/science_and_prayer.htm

 

On the Lake

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by ~ Michael Sutton for holistic2u.net

I have done some research on the subject of Prayer, its components (Thought, Feeling, and Emotion) and the difference between Emotions and Feelings.

I cannot possibly convey all that I find in this one article as it would be much too long. However, I can refer you to Gregg Braden's book 'The Isaiah Effect', and ‘The Life and Teaching of the Masters of the Far East’ by Baird T. Spalding.

Of the three components of prayer (a.k.a. manifesting that which you desire in the physical realm), emotion and feeling are the two most confusing. It would be easy to think that emotion and feeling are one and the same. Finding a difference may seem like splitting hairs or a matter of semantics. To complicate matters further, in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, the word feeling is defined as "an emotional state or disposition." Whereas emotion is defined as "a strong feeling." While these definitions may serve the purposes of today's world, the ancients recognized a distinction between them.

To change the conditions of our outer world, we are invited to actually become the conditions of our desire from within. For instance, to bring peace to those whom we love in this world, we must first become that very peace. The authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls even offer insights into the technology that allows this healing quality of peace: it must occur in our thoughts, feelings, and bodies (emotions). The Essene elders made clear distinctions among emotion, thought, and feeling.

Here is an explanation of each of the three components of the technology of prayer.

Emotion - may be considered the source of power that drives us forward toward our goals in life. It is through the energy of our emotions that we fuel our thoughts to make them real. It is in the presence of thought that our emotion is given direction, breathing life into the image of our thoughts. Ancient traditions suggest we are capable of two primary emotions. Love is one. Love's opposite is the second, often described as fear. The quality of emotion determines how it is expressed. Sometimes flowing, at other times lodged within the tissues of our body, emotion is closely aligned with desire, the force that drives our imagination to resolution.

Thought - may be considered the guidance system that directs our emotion. It is the image or idea created by our thought that determines where our emotion and attention are directed. Thought is closely associated with imagination. In itself, thought has little energy; it is only a possibility with little energy. In the absence of emotion, there is no power to make our thoughts real. It is our gift of thought in the absence of emotion that allows us to model and simulate the possibilities of life harmlessly, to create possible future options in imagination only without creating fear or chaos in our lives. It is only in our love or fear for the objects of our thoughts that we breathe life into the creations of our imagination.

Feeling - may exist only in the presence of thought and emotion for it represents the union of the two. When we feel, we are experiencing the desire of our emotion merged with the imagination of our thoughts. Feeling is the key to prayer. To have a feeling, by definition, we must first have both an underlying thought and an emotion.

In Gregg Braden's travels to Tibet, he was able to hold a private audience with the abbot of a monastery seldom visited. Instead of asking the typical questions most people asked that particular abbot throughout the years, Gregg asked him what was happening within the monks and nuns as he witnessed the outward expression of their prayers. The abbot responded with a single word: feeling. Carrying his answer one step further, the abbot then said that feeling was more than just a factor in prayer. He emphasized that feeling is the prayer!

From these three brief and possibly oversimplified definitions, it becomes apparent why it is impossible to "think away" frightening and painful experiences. For instance, pain is a feeling, the product of our thought fueled by our love or fear for what our mind believes has occurred. With this formula in mind, the Essene masters invite us to heal the memories of our most painful experiences by changing the emotion of the experience itself.

The Gospel Q is an ancient basis for the modern axiom "energy follows attention" which comes to light when reading a parable from said Gospel that states: "Whoever tries to protect his life will lose it." These deceptively brief words explain why we sometimes attract into our lives those experiences that we least choose to have. In this example, as we prepare and defend ourselves against each possibility and every situation where we could lose our lives, the model suggests that we are actually drawing attention to the very experience that we are choosing to avoid. In the not wanting, we create the conditions that allow it to be.

When we don't want something - an emotion based in fear - our fear actually fuels what we claim not to want. The laws of the universe, which the technology of prayer adheres to, invites us to empower our choices by focusing upon the positive experiences that we choose, rather than by preparing for the negative things that we don't want. Creation simply allows us the consequence of our feeling.

Now, in an attempt to bring this article to a conclusion, the question can be asked 'How do I pray'? Well, you may read in Conversations With God that we should never pray a prayer of supplication but rather a prayer of gratitude. What does this mean? This implies that that which you seek to manifest already exists. Thus, your prayer is one of gratitude. Through our new understandings of time and choice points, quantum physics allows for the possibility of apparent miracles as outcomes that already exist. That is, the key is to shift our perspective of life by feeling that the 'miracle' has already happened (even before you pray) and our prayers have thus been answered. The secret is that when we ask for something, we acknowledge what we do not have. Continuing to ask only gives power to what has never come to pass.

We must first have the feelings of what we wish to experience. This is how we plant the seeds of a new way. From that point forward, our prayer becomes a prayer of thanks. Our prayer becomes a prayer of thanks for the opportunity to choose which creation we experience. Through our thanks, we honor all possibilities and bring the ones we choose into this world.

Neville described bringing our dreams alive through the use of feeling by inviting us to "make our future dream a present fact by assuming the feeling of our desire fulfilled." Once we have created the image of our desire in our mind and felt the feeling of our desire fulfilled within our heart, then it has already happened! Though the intent of our prayer may not have appeared in full view of our immediate senses, we assume that it is so. The key is to acknowledge that when we feel, the effect of our feelings has occurred somewhere, upon some level of our existence.

At this moment in time, you are all aware that we are on the precipice of possible war. Terrorist activities proliferating. Personalities clashing. Egos bruised. We hear White House rhetoric stating that war is right around the corner with the next misstep. Ground rules are such that any hiccup can be used as cause for invasion. An all-around lack of a peaceful situation, right? So, how can it be avoided? What do we as individuals do?

We Pray Peace. Do not Pray for Peace, but rather Pray Peace. If you Pray for Peace, you are acknowledging that it is non existent. However, by Praying Peace, then you acknowledge that it already exists and you thank (prayer of gratitude) the Universal God for providing peace. In your praying, you must employ the three components of the technology of prayer described above. That is, feel the peace. Let your emotion of Love power your thoughts to take you to the point wherein you are imagining the peace around you and every individual in every land throughout the Earth. You must employ all three components. Again, feel the peace and imagine it within and without you.

Practice the above methodology with all of your desires and you will employ a Universal Law that works!

source : http://www.holistic2u.net/SciencePrayer.htm

 

Prayer and Medical Science

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This Commentary originally appeared in Archives of Internal Medicine

by Larry Dossey, MD

"It is fatal to dismiss antagonistic doctrines, supported by any body of evidence, as simply wrong." Alfred North Whitehead, 1948 1

THE RANDOMIZED, controlled trial by Harris et al2 on the effects of remote intercessory prayer on outcomes of patients admitted to a coronary care unit evoked several comments from physicians.

Several respondents implied that the attempt to study the remote effects of prayer is wrong in principle. This is because, according to Dr Sandweiss,3 science deals with facts, not "miracles." Yet, if events occur in controlled laboratory studies, as suggested by evidence cited below, these happenings presumably follow natural law and are not considered miraculous.

We should be cautious in calling events miraculous or mystical, because the subsequent course of history may reveal that these terms reflect little more than our own ignorance. For example, when Newton invoked the notion of universal gravity in the 17th century to explain his observations, he was charged by his contemporaries with surrendering to mysticism, as prayer researchers are often accused today.

As philosopher Eugene Mills4 describes, "[Newton's critics] disapproved of his failure to explain why bodies behaved in accordance with his laws, or how distant bodies could act on one another . . . This sort of worry no longer bothers us, but not because we have answered it."

Today we are as baffled by the remote effects of prayer as Newton's critics were by the distant effects of gravity. But, just as the dispute over gravity gradually abated, the debate surrounding intercessory prayer may also diminish with time, even though our ignorance about the mechanism involved may remain.

Dr Van der Does5 dismisses the effects of intercessory prayer because they would be indistinguishable empirically from the effects of clairvoyance and telepathy, which he implies are nonsense. (He presumably means not clairvoyance or telepathy, which are forms of anomalous cognition, but psychokinesis, the anomalous perturbation of distant events.) However, there is considerable evidence that neither telepathy nor psychokinesis is nonsense,6 in which case the indistinguishability between prayer and psychokinesis would not invalidate prayer.

Dr Sandweiss3 also refers dismissively to psychokinesis, apparently unaware of the evidence favoring this phenomenon. For example, in Foundations of Physics, one of physics' most prestigious journals, Radin and Nelson7 reported a meta-analysis of 832 studies from 68 investigators that involved the distant influence of human consciousness on microelectronic systems.

They found the results to be "robust and repeatable." In their opinion, "Unless critics want to allege wholesale collusion among more than sixty experimenters or suggest a methodological artifact common to . . . hundred[s of] experiments conducted over nearly three decades, there is no escaping the conclusion that [these] effects are indeed possible."

While these hundreds of studies do not involve actual prayer, they nonetheless deal with whether human intention can, in principle, affect the physical world at a distance.

In recent years, researchers have also studied the effects of mental efforts to change biological systems.8 Scores of controlled studies have examined the effects of intentions, often expressed through prayer, on biochemical reactions in vitro, on the recovery rate of animals from anesthesia, on the growth rates of tumors and the rate of wound healing in animals, on the rate of hemolysis of red blood cells in vitro, and on the replication rates of microorganisms in test tubes.

Testing prayer in lower organisms makes sense for the same reason we test drugs in nonhumans. We share physiological similarities with animals and bacteria; if prayer affects them, it may affect us as well.

These studies are too often ignored, even by researchers interested in the effects of intercessory prayer in humans. This is unfortunate because many of these studies9 have been done with great precision and have been replicated by different investigators in different laboratories. They make up the basic or bench science underlying the objective study of prayer.

Dr Sandweiss3 says that since we know that prayer cannot operate remotely, taking this possibility seriously requires us to "suspend natural law," which results in "pseudoscientific mischief." But, as there is no agreement among scientists about which natural laws govern consciousness, it is imprudent to declare which laws might be violated and what mischief might result.

Several outstanding scholars have emphasized our appalling ignorance about the basic nature of consciousness. John Searle,10 one of the most distinguished philosophers in the field of consciousness, has said, "At our present state of the investigation of consciousness, we don't know how it works and we need to try all kinds of different ideas."

Philosopher Jerry A. Fodor11 has observed, "Nobody has the slightest idea how anything material could be conscious. Nobody even knows what it would be like to have the slightest idea about how anything material could be conscious. So much for the philosophy of consciousness."

Recently Sir John Maddox,12 the former editor of Nature, soberly stated, "The catalogue of our ignorance must . . . include the understanding of the human brain . . . What consciousness consists of . . . is . . . a puzzle.

Despite the marvelous success of neuroscience in the past century . . ., we seem as far away from understanding . . . as we were a century ago . . . The most important discoveries of the next 50 years are likely to be ones of which we cannot now even conceive."

If these observers are anywhere near the truth, we should be hesitant to declare emphatically what the mind can and cannot do.

Dr Sandweiss3 states that Harris et al have taken "a P value out of context" and that their P value is "out of control." He implies that the beliefs and practices of physicians depend strongly on statistically valid studies and that P3D.04 is too weak to justify a change in "current theories." Do P values determine what we physicians believe and how we practice medicine?

This is a noble sentiment, but evidence suggests we are not as objective as Dr Sandweiss implies. Yale surgeon and author Sherwin B. Nuland13 states, "Unlike other areas in which fads come and go, medical styles [of practice] are meant to be supported by irrefutable evidence. That assumption is so far off the mark that the term 'medical science' is practically an oxymoron."

Referring to a 1978 report by the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment,14 Nuland states, "no more than 15 percent of medical interventions are supported by reliable scientific evidence."

Richard Smith,15 editor of the British Medical Journal, agrees, stating, "only about 15% of medical interventions are supported by solid scientific evidence. . . . This is partly because only 1% of the articles in medical journals are scientifically sound and partly because many treatments have not been assessed at all."

And David A. Grimes16 of the University of California-San Francisco School of Medicine states, "much, if not most, of contemporary medical practice still lacks a scientific foundation."

These observations suggest that a double standard is perhaps being applied to prayer research, according to which levels of proof are demanded that may not be required of conventional therapies-the "rubber ruler," the raising of the bar, the ever-lengthening playing field.17

Do serious scientists really believe that the effects of intercessory prayer are fantasy, as several letter writers imply? No doubt some do.

But in a recent survey18 of the spiritual beliefs of American scientists, 39% of biologists, physicists, and mathematicians said they not only believed in God, but in a god who answers prayers.

The highest rate of belief was found in the field of mathematics, which is generally considered the most precise of all the sciences. Many distinguished scientists favor prayer. A long list of individuals, including Nobelists, who have been cordial to consciousness-related events, such as distant, intercessory prayer, has been assembled by philosopher David
Griffin.19

Should the empirical study of intercessory prayer be abandoned, as several letter writers imply? More than a century ago, a similar debate took place among British scientists about telepathy, clairvoyance, and psychokinesis, which, like prayer, presume that consciousness can operate remotely.

Nobelist Sir William Crookes (1832-1919), the discoverer of thallium, contrasted his own approach with that of his fellow physicist Michael Faraday (1791-1867), famous for his work in electricity and magnetism. Crookes20 stated:

Faraday says, 'Before we proceed to consider any question involving physical principles, we should set out with clear ideas of the naturally possible and impossible.'

But this appears like reasoning in a circle: we are to investigate nothing till we know it to be possible, whilst we cannot say what is impossible, outside pure mathematics, till we know everything. In the present case I prefer to enter upon the enquiry with no preconceived notions whatever as to what can or cannot be.

The spirit of open inquiry would seem to validate Crookes' stance. Scientific puzzles do not solve themselves unaided. How are the mysteries of consciousness and prayer to be resolved unless researchers take a stab at them?

Dr Sandweiss3 suggests that the lack of an accepted theory underlying intercessory prayer diminishes the respectability of this area of investigation. In the history of medicine, however, we have often tolerated ignorance of mechanism and absence of theory. Examples include the use of aspirin, colchicine, and quinine, as well as the use of citrus fruits in scurvy, as Harris et al point out. The mechanisms of action of most general anesthetics are still a mystery, yet that does not preclude their use.

While it is true that there is no generally accepted theory for the remote actions of consciousness, many mathematicians, physicists, and biological and cognitive scientists are currently offering hypotheses about how these events may happen.

Hypotheses that are compatible with the distant effects of intercessory prayer have been advanced by Nobel physicist Brian Josephson,21 physicist Amit Goswami22 of the University of Oregon's Institute of Theoretical Science, mathematician and cognitive scientist David J. Chalmers,23, 24 systems theorist Ervin Laszlo,25 mathematician C. J. S. Clarke,26 and many other respected scholars.27

These models of consciousness generally advocate a nonlocal view of the mind-a view in which consciousness is not localized or confined to specific points in space (such as the brain) or time.

Levin28 has developed a theoretical model of how prayer may heal that takes several of these hypotheses into account. I have described the implications of a nonlocal model of consciousness for medicine.29 Dr Hammerschmidt30 suggests that Harris et al are "putting God to the test" in their study. Are tests of prayer blasphemous, and are prayer researchers heretics?

I have found that investigators in this area approach their subject with reverence and respect; indeed, I have not found a single exception. They seem to epitomize the view of chemist Robert Boyle,31 the 17th-century author of Boyle's Law, who suggested that experimental scientists are "priests of nature" and that science is so sacred that scientists should carry out their experiments on Sundays as part of their Sabbath worship.

Dr Goldstein32 is "concerned with the potential effect of [the Harris et al] study and its publication on the reputation of hospitals involved and on the integrity of health care organizations in general." The reputation of any healing institution is precious and should be protected, but the suggestion that a hospital's reputation will be endangered by the indiscriminate use of prayer is exceedingly hypothetical.

It is more likely that the widespread application of prayer will enhance the reputation of healing institutions, in view of the facts that nearly 80% of Americans believe in the power of prayer to improve the course of illness,33 and nearly 70% of physicians report religious inquiries for counseling on terminal illness34 yet only 10% of physicians ever inquire about patients' spiritual practices or beliefs.35

In a survey36 of hospitalized patients, three fourths said they believed their physician should be concerned about their spiritual welfare, and one half said they believed their physician should not only pray for them but with them. It is unlikely that prayer could threaten the reputation of hospitals to the extent of many conventional therapies.

A recent meta-analysis of prospective studies by Lazarou et al37 found that more than 100,000 persons die in US hospitals each year from adverse drug reactions, "making these reactions between the fourth and sixth leading cause of death." A recent survey38 of American adults asked about their concerns before checking into a hospital or other health care facility.

Sixty-one percent were "very concerned" about being given the wrong medicine, 58% about the cost of treatment, 58% about the negative interaction of multiple drugs, 56% about medical procedure complications, 53% about receiving correct information about medications, and 50% about contracting an infection during their stay. Concerns about being indiscriminately prayed for did not make the list.

Dr Pande39 suggests that the analogy by Harris et al with James Lind's discovery of the healing potential of citrus fruits in scurvy is inappropriate. A person deprived of vitamin C will develop scurvy, whereas a person deprived of prayer or believing in God's existence, he states, will not become unhealthy.

There is evidence to the contrary. Scores of studies40, 41 suggest that, on average, individuals deprived of religious meaning live shorter, less healthy lives than people who follow some sort of religious path, which almost always includes prayer.

Drs Sloan and Bagiella42 question whether Harris et al are justified in suggesting that intercessory prayer be considered an adjunct to conventional medical practice, since there is no consensus in medicine about this controversial intervention.

There is indeed no consensus, but whether this is because of a lack of data or ignorance of current evidence is a valid question.43 Certainly further investigation of intercessory prayer is warranted, but we need not wait until all the answers are in before employing prayer adjunctively. This view is represented by Lancet editor Richard Horton44 in his "precautionary principle."

Horton states, "We must act on facts and on the most accurate interpretation of them, using the best information. That does not mean that we must sit back until we have 100 percent evidence about everything. When the . . . health of the individual is at stake . . . we should be prepared to take action to diminish those risks even when the scientific knowledge is not conclusive."

Although skepticism is an invaluable component of scientific progress, it can shade into a type of dogmatic materialism that excludes intercessory prayer in principle,45 as when Newton's critics condemned universal gravity as occult nonsense without weighing the evidence.

Both true believers and committed disbelievers in intercessory prayer might heed the view of mathematical physicist and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead,46 who coauthored Principia Mathematica with Bertrand Russell:

" The Universe is vast. Nothing is more curious than the self-satisfied dogmatism with which mankind at each period of its history cherishes the delusion of the finality of its existing modes of knowledge. Sceptics and believers are all alike. At this moment scientists and sceptics are the leading dogmatists. Advance in detail is admitted: fundamental novelty is barred. This dogmatic common sense is the death of philosophical adventure. The Universe is vast."

Dr. Mercola's Comment:

There appears to be no question that prayer works. We have many studies now that document that. The science is very solid in excellent peer-reviewed publications. The science is so solid, that it is criminally negligent for physicians not to recommend it.

And talk about cost-effective; there is no cost to prayer except for time. It makes no logical sense to me why someone would not utilize this resource.

For those who are interested in further reading on this subject, I have read and can recommend Dr. Larry Dossey's excellent reviews of the subject of prayer and distant healing. A must for those interested in this area.

        Healing Words : The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine

        Be Careful What You Pray For...You Just Might Get It

 

Source : http://www.mercola.com/article/prayer/dossey.htm

 

Can Prayer Heal?

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Scientists Suggest Recovery May Be the Hand of God at Work

Halfway around the world, American Sufi Muslims join in. Fundamentalist Christians add their prayers, as do Orthodox Jews at Jersualem's Western Wall.

"Jimmy P," a heart patient at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina, is part of a global scientific experiment trying to find out: Does prayer heal?

The experiment was launched by Dr. Mitch Krucoff, a cardiologist at Duke University Medical Center.

"If in addition to all the prayer routinely going on all the time, we were to add prayers from religious groups all over the world focused on one individual's recovery, is there a measurable incremental benefit?" he wondered. So he is putting prayer to the test in a global scientific study that is scheduled to be completed next year.

Putting Faith to the Test

In the meantime, other scientists are taking a look at the 191 studies that have already been done on what they call "remote healing."

One such study was conducted at the Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Mo. At first, Dr. William Harris had a hard time persuading a fellow cardiologist, Dr. James O'Keefe, to participate in the prayer experiment on heart patients.

"From a purely scientific standpoint, I thought it was illogical," says O'Keefe. "I don't really think of spirituality normally as playing a role in scientific, rigorous, double-blind placebo-controlled scientific studies. It's two different realms."

A previous study by some other scientists had gotten positive results, and Harris wanted to study remote healing for himself. But he, too, was skeptical.

"We were even doubtful that the phenomena itself was real," he says, "that prayer could do anything."

So Harris wanted to make his experiment impervious to any placebo effects. He did not tell patients they were being prayed for — or even that they were part of any kind of experiment. For an entire year, about 1,000 heart patients admitted to the institute's critical care unit were secretly divided into two groups. Half were prayed for by a group of volunteers and the hospital's chaplain; the other half were not.

All the patients were followed for a year, and then their health was scored according to pre-set rules by a third party who did not know which patients had been prayed for and which had not. The results: The patients who were prayed for had 11 percent fewer heart attacks, strokes and life-threatening complications.

"This study offers an interesting insight into the possibility that maybe God is influencing our lives on Earth," says O'Keefe. "As a scientist, it's very counterintuitive because I don't have a way to explain it."

A Miracle or Simply Chance?

Dr. Elizabeth Targ, a psychiatrist at the Pacific College of Medicine in San Francisco, has also tested out prayer on critically ill AIDS patients.

All 20 patients in the study got pretty much the same medical treatment, but only half of them were prayed for by spiritual healers. Ultimately, 10 of the prayed-for patients lived, while four who had not been prayed for died.

In a larger follow-up study, Targ found that the people who received prayer and remote healing had six times fewer hospitilizations and those hospitalizations were significantly shorter than the people who received no prayer and distant healing.

"I was sort of shocked," says Targ. "In a way it's like witnessing a miracle. There was no way to understand this from my experience and from my basic understanding of science."

Dr. Deepak Chopra, who is well-known for his insights on science and spirituality, says these prayer experiments are proving what he's been saying all along: There are healing forces in nature that science is only beginning to understand.

"What physicists are saying to us right now," he says, "is that there is a realm of reality which goes beyond the physical … where in fact we can influence each other from a distance."

But the final verdict on prayer is still not in, says Dr. Gary Posner, a skeptic of remote healing who says most prayer studies to date have been sloppy and untrustworthy.

"I suspect that 50 years from now people looking back at this genre of prayer research will kind of shake their heads and call it junk science."

Chance alone, he says, might account for the effect that they thought was due to the prayer.

But Chopra says he is just glad science is taking the belief seriously enough to want to study it.

"At the moment, I would agree that some of these studies are tentative, that we should be cautious in the way we interpret the results," says Chopra. "But the studies are encouraging enough that we should pursue them, because if we don't, we may have missed one of the most amazing phenomena in nature.

SOURCE : http://abcnews.go.com/sections/Downtown/2020/Downtown_010813_remotehealing_feature.html#

 

Probing the power of prayer

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By Catherine Rauch

(WebMD) -- When Aretha Franklin crooned the words "I say a little prayer for you" in the hit 1960s song she probably didn't imagine that the soulful pledge would become the stuff of serious science. But increasingly, scientists are studying the power of prayer, and in particular its role in healing people who are sick.

Most research in the field looks at how people who are sick are affected by their own spiritual beliefs and practices. In general, these studies have suggested that people who are religious seem to heal faster or cope with illness more effectively than do the nondevout.

But a few scientists have taken a further step: They're trying to find out if you can help strangers by praying for them without their knowledge.

A recent, controversial study of cardiac patients conducted at St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, concludes that this type of prayer -- known as intercessory prayer -- may indeed make a difference. "Prayer may be an effective adjunct to standard medical care," says cardiac researcher William Harris, Ph.D., who headed the St. Luke's study. The study was published in the October 25, 1999 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Harris and team examined the health outcomes of nearly 1,000 newly admitted heart patients at St. Luke's. The patients, who all had serious cardiac conditions, were randomly assigned to two groups. Half received daily prayer for four weeks from five volunteers who believed in God and in the healing power of prayer. The other half received no prayer in conjunction with the study.

The volunteers were all Christians. The participants were not told they were in a study. The people praying were given only the first names of their patients and never visited the hospital. They were instructed to pray for the patients daily "for a speedy recovery with no complications."

Measuring marvels

Using a lengthy list of events that could happen to cardiac patients -- such as chest pains, pneumonia, infection, and death -- Harris concluded that the group receiving prayers fared 11 percent better than the group that didn't, a number considered statistically significant.

Harris originally embarked on his study to see if he could replicate a similar 1988 study of intercessory prayer conducted at San Francisco General Hospital. That study -- one of the only published studies of its kind -- also found that prayer benefited patients, but by a different measure: The patients were able to go home from the hospital sooner. In Harris' study, the length of the hospital stay and the time spent in the cardiac unit were no different for the two groups.

Still, Harris says, his study bolsters the evidence that prayer works. "To me it almost argues for another intelligence, to have to redirect this very vague information."

At the very least, he says, his results validate the need for more research. "It strengthens the field. The more studies done in independent, different places, the closer you are to the truth," he says.

Fans and critics

The Harris study, like its predecessor, has attracted both fans and critics, and plenty of each. Some critics say that adding up health events to judge a patient's outcome is subjective, open to bias, and therefore scientifically invalid. Others say not informing people they were in a study is unethical and disrespects personal religious preferences.

"This was a reasonably well conducted study, [but] I think they made some mistakes," says Richard Sloan, Ph.D., a cardiovascular researcher at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York who closely follows research on spirituality and healing.

Sloan has trouble with several aspects of the Harris study. The prayers were for a "speedy recovery" but there were no measurable differences in hospital stays for the two groups, he says. "Half of their predictions failed at the offset."

But supporters say the work is careful. "They're not claiming they are identifying how this occurred; they're just saying maybe we should take a closer look," says Harold Koenig, M.D., a doctor and professor of medicine and psychiatry at Duke University who has written about prayer and healing.

The percent of difference in the outcomes of the two groups was small, Koenig says, but the Harris study used sound methodology and produced intriguing results. "Many, many people pray. Many people would like to know if their prayers are being heard."

Source : http://exn.ca/Stories/2001/11/20/52.asp

 

Related Links

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  • PRAYER WORKS-AND HOW

Nothing gives the human mind so much strength and confidence as prayer based on faith it is this faith that cures incurable diseases, not the object of one's prayers

Bhajana bina sukh shanti nahi
Hari nama bina anand nahi

(Without worship there is neither comfort nor peace;
there's no bliss greater than the chanting of Hari's name
)

That enchanting song frequently heard in Prasanthi Nilayam—abode of peace—Sathya Sai Baba's base in Puttaparthy in Andhra Pradesh, India, conveys a message of far greater import than what poet Tennyson conveyed when he said that "more things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of".  Acts of worship, whatever the faith and whatever the method, through collective singing and chanting perform a profound social function. They act as bridge-points between a religion and the community, drawing in both young and old and believer and non-believer in a manner rarely achieved during normal times of the year. The involvement of all people in the Indian celebrations of Deepavali, Durga puja in West Bengal and Ganesh Chaturthi in Maharashtra is ample proof that such events and occasions are defining moments in proclaiming faith in a cynical world. more on lifepositive.com

  • Can Science Prove that Prayer Works?

by Hector Avalos

Prayer has become a new cottage industry. Within the last five years the New York Times has listed as best-sellers at least a half-dozen books extolling the value of prayer in some form. Cover stories have appeared in popular magazines like Newsweek, and television programs such as "Dateline NBC" have devoted entire shows to this subject. In particular, physician Larry Dossey in his Prayer Is Good Medicine: How to Reap the Healing Benefits of Prayer (1996) and Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine (1993) has popularized the notion that there is scientific evidence that prayer does work.

source : http://www.secularhumanism.org/library/fi/avalos_17_3.html

  • THE POWER OF PRAYER

Prayer is our communion with God, whether it be a petition made to God, worship, repentance, praise, or thanksgiving. It doesn't have to be a laid-out patent prayer, but words from the heart. God wants all of us, he knows our minds and hearts, so why not talk to him as if he already knows the situation.

James 5:16 Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Source : http://www.entourages.com/barbs/prayer.htm

  • THE NECESSITY OF PRAYER

One of the errors of Pelagianism was the assertion that prayer is not necessary for salvation. Pelagius, the impious author of that heresy, said that man will only be damned for neglecting to know the truths necessary to be learned. How astonishing! St. Augustine said: 'Pelagius discussed everything except how to pray,' though, as the saint held and taught, prayer is the only means of acquiring the science of the saints; according to the text of St. James: If any man lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all abundantly, and upbraides not (James 1,5).

source : http://www.ourladyswarriors.org/prayer/mustpray.htm

  • Prayer doubles IVF success rate

Prayer can double the success rate of IVF treatments, according to a double blind study published in the respected Journal of Reproductive Medicine.

source : http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99991386 

 

  • Necessity and Power of Prayer - St. Alphonsus Ligouri

1. THE NECESSITY OF PRAYER

  1. Prayer Is a Means Necessary to Salvation.
  2. Without Prayer It Is Impossible to Resist Temptations and to Keep the Commandments
  3. Invocation of the Saints
  4. The Intercession of the Blessed Virgin

2. THE POWER OF PRAYER

  1. Excellence of Prayer and Its Power With God
  2. Power of Prayer against Temptation
  3. God Is always Ready to Hear Us
  4. We Should Not Limit Ourselves to Asking for Little Things

 

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