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Healing by prayer

Effectiveness of "distant healing" prayer:

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bullet "During the past two decades, a spate of intercessory prayer studies has shown only a small or statistically insignificant effect. The findings have been highly controversial, with skeptics charging that the methodology is flawed." Stacey Chase, Science & Theology News. 1


"It must be emphasized that, in the entire history of modern science, no claim of any type of supernatural phenomena has ever been replicated under strictly controlled conditions." Bruce Flamm, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology. 2

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Controversy about the use of distant healing prayer:

Prayer at a distance, (a.k.a. distance healing, intercessory prayer, remote healing, anonymous prayer, etc.) involves a person or a team praying on behalf of an individual who might be some distance away, and a stranger. Its effectiveness is controversial:


Dr. Gary Posner, a skeptic says that most remote prayer studies to date have been sloppy and untrustworthy. He said:

"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.


Popular spirituality author Dr. Deepak Chopra says that prayer experiments are supporting what he's been saying all along: There are healing forces in nature that science is only beginning to understand. He said:

"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. 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." 3

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Topics covered in this section:

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Stacey Chase, "Does prayer research have a prayer?," Science & Theology News, 2005-SEP-07, at:
  2. B.L. Flamm, "The Columbia University 'Miracle' Study: Flawed and Fraud," Skeptical Inquirer, 2004-SEP.

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Copyright © 1996 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 1996-JAN-14
Latest update: 2010-NOV-05
Author: B.A. Robinson


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