Have studies proven that prayer can help heal the sick?

More generally, can prayer achieve anything?

The Christian god is held by its followers to have all manner of desirable traits, including that of ALL-KNOWING.
Now, if your god knows everything, he knows what is going to happen.
He knows that people will pray for outcomes, but he ALREADY knows what is going to happen so the prayers cannot have any effect.

Example - before any first world war battle, the Germans, French, British soldiers all pray to live, pray for their side to win etc. Next morning, the whistle blows and ten hours later 60,000 are dead and there’s no perceptible improvement for either side.
Obviously the god could not have responded to the prayers of either army. How could he? If you accept the idea of a god you accept that the god knows what will happen, and you accept that praying won’t change anything

Is this in regards to a particular column?

Have studies proven that prayer can help heal the sick?

This argument just reduces to “if there is an omniscient god, how can there be free will?”

It’s rather amazing, if you think about it … NOTHING works like prayer!

Exactly what I was thinking.
As far as I’m concerned, from my point of view, I have free will. Whether or not this is true to an outside observer, I couldn’t care less.

Many sideline or fringe therapies probably have positive effects simply through positive reinforcement - if another person is massaging you, doing woo-y things to you, praying for you, you are likely to feel better for reasons that have nothing to do with the therapy and everything to do with how humans respond to the kind attention and presence of other humans.

This Wiki on Studies on intercessory prayer, which lists some studies done over the years, seems to show that prayers don’t seem to do any good on their own. In fact, several examples show that they can actually do harm if the person being prayed over is convinced that she/he has been partially or wholly healed and forgoes actual medical treatments.

Also, the majority of people who are sick get better. This often gets attributed to the last thing they did, whether it had any real effect or not. (And the ones who don’t get better don’t attribute anything).

Interesting that the most methodologically rigorous studies/reviews show no effect for intercessory prayer healing.

Similar conclusions have been reached for homeopathy and acupuncture (to name two popular forms of woo).

Supporters however will continue to overlook such evidence and point to “positive” findings from small/poorly conducted studies - when they’re not arguing that we should ignore scientific studies because they’re biased and corrupt.

Such studies seem to me like attempts to manipulate or test God; and their lack of results may just mean that God doesn’t go along with being manipulated like that.

(The above is not an argument for praying, but it’s an argument why it’s reasonable for someone who already sees fit to pray for the sick to continue to do so in spite of the negative results of such studies.)

So God wants those sick people to suffer because he doesn’t want to be tested, but other sick people he will intervene with… sometimes… if he feels like it.

God answers all prayers, but sometimes the coinflip doesn’t go your way and the answer is “No”.

Oddly enough, I also have that exact same power. Small world.

I was born with the inability to keep food down. I was starving to death. Screaming the whole time . Dr’s told my parent’s to take me home to die. I had 3 brother’s at home. My parent’s drove me to St. Isadore’s Catholic Church (back in the day when Nun’s were plenty) they left me with the Nun’s whom placed me on the alter (still screaming) prayed for 3 daysthat was 58 years agoWas it prayer? My parent’s sure think so~~

It’s great that you’re here to relate this story but as you may have heard, the plural of anecdote is not data. Also, there’s a lot of documentation missing from your story as presented here so it’s impossible to address. How many babies died with people praying over them?

Nuns placed you on an alter and prayed over you for three days? A lot of children, many of them Catholic, were sick and/or dying back then. Is this something they did often, or were you a special case?
edited to add: Would this be St. Isidore’s Catholic Church in Kanata, Ontario?

Those doctor meanies are always Sending People Home To Die. :mad:

We so need a “beating a dead horse” smiley.


There’s a movie called Green Dolphin Street. I saw it when I was ten or twelve years old, but Donna Reed plays a nun in a cloister in it, and the mother superior in confronted with some sort of problem, and decides to leave the convent to solve the problem through practical means. Donna Reed’s character says “Mother, isn’t there some other way?” and she answers “Well, I could pray, but I think He’d rather I did something about it.”

In regards to Brooky, who knows what “The inability to keep food down” was. He could have been born with gastric reflux, or with some kind of infection. It could be that while the nuns prayed over him, something misdiagnosed as gastric reflux, but was really an infection, cleared up. And yes, babies can be born with infections.

I had a positive culture for strep B, so I was given IV antibiotics to keep my son from getting it during birth. He ended up being a c-section, because he got stuck on the way out, but he got far enough out that the strep be precaution was necessary.

Before doctors figured out what was happening, babies got all kinds of terrible infections from strep B, something that is benign in the women (and men too) who harbor it, as long as they don’t give birth.

Now, I’m not saying he had that, or any particular infection, but three days may have been just enough for whatever he had to clear up.

My son had a poor latch, and ate very little for his first three days. Babies have amazing reserves. If mothers are too ill or exhausted after birth to nurse them well, they survive. All mothers secrete is colostrum anyway, which has just a little sugar and fluid-- in fact, in the early days of formula feeding, newborns got three days of glucose water before they got formula. It’s after the milk comes in that the baby gets really hungry (and it doesn’t slow down until it’s about two).

So prayer didn’t make Brooky survive without food. Newborns can do that. And we can’t say it cured the eating disorder without knowing the underlying cause.