According to a large study, praying for sick strangers has absolutely no effect on their health. In fact, it found that patients who had undergone heart surgery and knew that people were praying for their recovery had more health complications as a result.

You can read about this study in the American Heart Journal. Researchers wanted to examine the effect prayer might have on the recovery of 1,800 heart bypass patients. The study was made over a ten-year period. The John Templeton Foundation funded the study with $2.4 million in the hope of casting some light on the power of prayer for people who are ill.

According to Dr. Charles Bethea, Integris Baptist Medical Center, Oklahoma City, one of the co-authors of the study, ?Intercessory prayer under our restricted format had a neutral effect.?

Three groups of people were asked to pray for patients they did not know personally. The congregations came from:

— St. Paul’s Monastery, St. Paul
— The Community of Teresian Carmelites, Worcester, Massachussetts
— Silent Unity, which is a Missouri prayer ministry near Kansas City

Patients were divided into three groups:

1. Patients who were told people would pray for them

2. Patients who were not told people would pray for them, but people did pray for them

3. Patients who were not told anything, and nobody prayed for them.

One night before surgery, each patient who had people assigned to pray for him/her, would be prayed for. Then the worshippers would pray for him/her for a period of two weeks after surgery. The prayers would ask God to grant ?a successful surgery with a quick, healthy recovery and no complications.’

Among two groups of patients, one having people praying for them but not knowing, and the other receiving no prayers, there was no difference in their health and recoveries.

However, the group that was being prayed for and knew about it had more complications after surgery than the other two groups.

Here are the results presented in a different way:

Percentage of Patients Having Complications After Surgery

52% – Patients who were receiving prayers and did not know this.

52% – Patients receiving no prayers and not being told anything about prayers taking place anywhere for anyone.

59% – Patients knowing they were receiving prayers

Does this mean that knowing people are praying for you is bad for your health? Some say that the stress of thinking ?I must be really ill if people are praying for my health’ may have contributed towards the health complications.

According to this study, we may conclude the following:

— Praying does not help the patient at all.

— Telling patients that people are going to pray for them does have an effect, but not a good one.

Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today