Studies show distant healing works

But what is the clinical relevance of these experiments?

Can prayer and distant healing can be expected to play a positive role in medical treatment?

To date, only a few scientific studies have addressed the question whether prayer can affect the physical course of events in individual patients. But they provide encouraging evidence that intercessory prayer and distant healing can improve medical outcomes in people suffering from a diverse range of medical conditions, including arthritis, cardiac problems, hernia surgery--and even advanced AIDS.

A seminal study by cardiologist Randolph C. Byrd led the way in this applied research. Nearly a dozen years ago, Dr Byrd, then at San Francisco General Hospital, conducted a randomized, double-blind, prospective study to assess the effects o fintercessory prayer on healthy outcomes in 393 patients admitted to the coronary care unit. Each patient was randomly assigned to a "prayed for" or "control" condition; otherwise, they all received comparable medical treatment. The healers chosen were "born again" Christians, defined by Byrd as people with an active Christian life manifested by daily devotional prayer and an active fellowship with a local church. Each prayed daily for a specific outcome: rapid recovery, prevention of complications and death, and any other areas they believed helpful to the patient.

The prayers seem to have helped. Members of the group that receive healing prayer were five times less likely to require antibiotics and three times less likely to develop pulmonary edema. In addition, fewer of them died than in the control group, and one of the prayed-for group required endotracheal intubation, whereas twelve in the "unremembered" group did.

Marilyn Schlitz, PhD; and Nola Lewis, MS

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