31 May 2006

Pray for the sick but do not tell them!

A recent study to find out the effect of praying for people undergoing a heart surgery is very surprising. The patients were split into three groups. The first group was told that devoted people would pray for a successful surgery and a recovery without troubles. All of them received the prayers. The second group was told that they could receive the prayers and in fact they were included in the group which received the prayers. The third group were also told that they could receive the prayers but they were not included among those who received the prayers. When the surgery was performed and for 14 days after that, the patient names selected to be prayed for were given to three churches, one Protestant and two Catholics, and were cited during the religious ceremony.

The result? All patients were followed for 30 days and all surgery complications were documented. Among the patients of the third group, those who did not receive any prayer, 51% had minor complications. In the second group 52% also had some minor complications. But among those of the first group, which were sure that people prayed for them, 59% had minor complications! The authors of the study propose that the first group got upset by knowing that people would pray for them so they were under more stress than the other two groups. Well, well...

More details can be found in "Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer in Cardiac Bypass Patients", Am. Heart J.,151, 762 (2006). Some comments appeared in the Brazilian newspaper Estadão (in Portuguese only).

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