An essay donated by Larry Langston
About the effectiveness of prayer:
As a former Christian I share these thoughts. I think we are well served in not being to quick to conclude that an omnipotent Father is evaluating and responding to His children’s requests. I believe this is humanization of the Divine or better stated, Divine Consciousness. While there have been many studies on the effects of prayer, and some are interpreted as positive, there have been many others reflecting no benefit whatsoever. In fact, the study in the link below actually reflected the group prayed for having a poorer recovery than the prayed for group.
One must consider that many factors beyond human understanding are involved. We exist in a sea of consciousness and mental activity. Although many proclaim the power of prayer, many more proclaim the power of thought and intention to be the most powerful force at our disposal.
I suggest simply observing our experiences and those around us sheds light on the subject. I see a church member fall very ill and all the fellow members rally around in fervent prayer for a healing and recovery. Sometimes it happens and sometimes not. If it happens, there is great thankfulness, praising God and crediting the power of prayer. If it doesn’t, they simply shrug and say, “well, it just wasn’t God’s will for the recovery to happen”.
So, by prayer, are we saying we were trying to change God’s will? If the recovery was God’s will, no prayer would have been needed in the first place, would it? This belief suggests that God is a human like character sitting up there being influenced and responding to those who worship Him the best. I suggest the recovery rate for the church members is precisely the same as for non-church members. If the rate for church members was higher, everyone would be in church. As common as this situation is, surely if there was any significant difference it would be recognized and documented by an observant populace.
If it makes one feel better to believe in prayer, that is fine. I simply find it difficult to substantiate anything conclusive indicating its effectiveness. However, having said that, let me hurry on to say that I certainly do believe that love, sharing and the pulling for one another has powerful positive effects within the sea of consciousness that is creating this physical experience of life. I even suggest that it is more the sharing of love and positive affirmations than the seeking of Divine intervention. And yes, I too call IT God and am without doubt that we are indeed eternal beings. I simply do not believe He is discriminating based on individual pleading or wishes regardless of religious affiliation.
- H. Benson, et al., "Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP) in cardiac bypass patients: a multicenter randomized trial of uncertainty and certainty of receiving intercessory prayer." American Heart Journal, 2006-APR, Pages 934-42.
Originally posted: 2013-JAN-17
Latest update: 2013-JAN-17
Author: Larry Langston