Research about the healing power of prayer examined how people with diseases or illnesses are affected by their own personal spiritual beliefs. The findings suggest that people of faith seem to heal more quickly than less devout people or those with no religious beliefs. Some researchers are investigating the issue in more depth by attempting to determine if people who pray for ill strangers can have a healing effect on them even if the strangers are unaware of the prayers.
Additional research has suggested that prayers for patients done in very close proximity to them may have an even greater healing impact. Many sick people who had someone praying for them while standing or sitting very nearby showed marked improvement.
How Powerful is Prayer?
The Bible verse, James 5:16-18, states, "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” Those who have faith in the Bible verse believe that prayer power should not be underestimated. Devout people of faith feel that God listens to prayers and answers them.
Much of the research on the power of prayer focused on how patients are affected by their own personal spiritual beliefs. The research suggests that those of faith heal better and faster than those who do not hold such faith. Some more extensive research, however, is focused on whether praying for ill strangers can have a healing impact even if the strangers aren’t aware of the prayers.
A controversial study of cardiac patients from St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri concluded that strangers' prayers for patients without the patients' knowledge may be effective. A study of 1000 St. Luke’s patients who had serious cardiac conditions was conducted. Half of the patients received prayers every day from five devoutly religious volunteers for a month. The remaining half received no prayer during the study period. The study determined that the group receiving prayers fared 11 percent better than those who didn't receive prayers. The merits of the findings would seem to suggest that additional research would be warranted. The findings also suggest the possibility that prayer may be an effective addition to regular medical treatment.
An additional research project, funded by the National Institutes of Health, studied the positive effects of prayer on AIDS patients for whom prayers were offered from a distance without the patients being aware of the prayers.
The Aids patients were put into two groups. Prayers were conducted an hour a day for ten weeks for one group, but not for the second group. The research determined that those who were being prayed for had fewer and less severe symptoms, and fewer doctor visits and hospitalizations.
In conclusion, the faithful have always prayed. Perhaps now science is suggesting the possibility that their prayers can be heard and answered.