May 6, 2010

A Prayer For Milk: Part 3 – Prayer Studies

A Deeper Look

Biology one-oh-whaaaa?

Image by Moody75 via Flickr

Nobody has built a prayer-proof room and we would think it unethical to tell patients or relatives not to pray. So, you cannot have a zero prayer control group.

Dr. Mitchell Krucoff 

The first study cited in the video was from an article in the New York Times. In the video, people were told they were being prayed for. Were they ever prayed for? That is unclear. Who was doing the praying? Was it some random person? Or someone who may have no believe in any god? That is also unclear.

The study is more about intercessory prayer. But he overlooks a quote that supports the idea that there is more to prayer than asking God for stuff. This study is more about the psychological powers when someone thinks they are being prayed for.

From the first study:

Historically, religions have promoted many kinds of prayer. Prayers of praise, thanksgiving and repentance have been highly esteemed, while intercessions of the kind done in the Benson study — appeals to God to take some action — are of lesser importance. They represent a less-respected magical wing of religion.

Faith-Based Medicine
New York Times
April 11, 2006

The next study partly cited was by the Boston Globe. But there is much more.

[Dr. Mitchell] Krucoff cautioned against concluding that prayer doesn't work based on his study. Nearly 90 percent of all the patients participating said someone was praying for them separate from the prayers commissioned by the researchers. So the study, in effect, measured whether distant prayer provided an added benefit to personal, local prayer, he said.

The study offers no evidence about bedside prayer by patients themselves or their loved ones. Krucoff said he did not attempt to look at that question because of ethical and logistical problems.

''Nobody has built a prayer-proof room and we would think it unethical to tell patients or relatives not to pray," he said. ''So, you cannot have a zero prayer control group."

A prayer for health
Boston Globe
July 25, 2005

The third study cited has to do with “a positive attitude,” not prayer. One can only assume that the video is equating prayer with “a positive attitude.” Prayer is about much more than “a positive attitude.”

But, maybe, the question “Does prayer work?” is the wrong question.