Apologetics – Evidence for Miracles – Prayer Experiments
Table of Contents
Billions of people across the world believe in the power of prayer, inside and outside of religious circles. Most physicians and medical doctors admit to the importance and benefits of prayer for oneself and others in the medical system. Statistics show that most doctors believe in or have witnessed some typie of miracle that has been the result of prayer in their line of work.
The following are a number of prayer experiments that have been documented and submitted for peer review within the scientific or medical field. This phenomenon is wide spread, however controversial among critics.
Prayer Experiments Scientific Evidence
Dr. Byrd Study – Intercessory Prayer
Dr. Randolph Byrd, a San Francisco Cardiologist, ran a prayer experiment in 1988 at San Francisco General Hospital. His results where published in the Southern Medical Journal, a peer reviewed publication, which stated that patients prayed for did much better on several measures of health, including the need for drugs and breathing assistance.
Dr. Byrd studied to assess the impact of intercessory prayer on patients in a coronary care unit (CCU). He developed a rigorous prospective randomized double-blind study. Over a span of ten months, 393 CCU patients, all of whom provided informed consent, were randomly assigned to one of two groups: an intercessory prayer group consisting of 192 patients, and a control group comprising 201 patients. During their hospitalization, the first group received intercessory prayer from participating Christians who prayed outside the hospital, while the control group did not receive such prayers.
Upon initial assessment, statistical analysis using chi-square and stepwise logistic techniques revealed no significant differences between the two groups. However, post-entry evaluation throughout the hospital stay yielded noteworthy results. The IP group displayed a notably lower severity score based on their hospital course after entry (with a p-value less than .01).
Further multivariate analysis revealed significant differentiation between the groups in terms of the outcome variables (with a p-value less than .0001). It was observed that patients in the control group required ventilator support, antibiotics, and diuretics more frequently than those in the IP group. These findings suggest that intercessory prayer directed towards the Judeo-Christian God can have a beneficial therapeutic effect on patients admitted to a CCU.
Results: Those prayed for where five times less likely to require antibiotics. They where three times less likely to develop pulmonary edema. None of those prayed from required intratracheal intubation and few patients in this group died.
M.D. Elizabeth Targ Study – Distant Healings
Elizabeth Targ, Psychiatrist – California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco ran an experiment for distance healing on AIDS patients. The study was published in peer reviewed journal Western Journale of Medicine in 1998.
Dr. Targ addresses various modalities of distant healing (DH), encompassing practices such as prayer and “psychic healing,” which are widely employed, yet remains within a dearth of formal research to ascertain their actual impact on health. She presented the findings of a double-blind randomized trial involving 40 patients in advanced stages of AIDS.
These subjects were meticulously paired based on age, CD4+ count, and the number of AIDS-defining illnesses. They were then randomly assigned to either a 10-week DH treatment group or a control group. The DH treatment was administered by self-identified healers representing diverse healing and spiritual traditions, situated across the United States.
Notably, the subjects and healers never had any physical interaction. Comprehensive assessments, including psychometric testing and blood sampling, were conducted at the commencement of the study, and the subjects were monitored for a duration of 6 months.
At the end of this period, a meticulous blind review of medical records revealed that the treatment group exhibited significantly fewer new AIDS-defining illnesses (0.1 versus 0.6 per patient, P = 0.04), lower illness severity (severity score 0.8 versus 2.65, P = 0.03), and a reduced necessity for doctor visits (9.2 versus 13.0, P = 0.01).
Additionally, the treated individuals experienced fewer hospitalizations (0.15 versus 0.6, P = 0.04) and spent fewer days in the hospital (0.5 versus 3.4, P = 0.04). Treated subjects also demonstrated a marked improvement in mood compared to the control group (Profile of Mood States score -26 versus 14, P = 0.02). Importantly, there were no significant differences observed in CD4+ counts.
Results: These findings provide support for the potential impact of DH in the context of AIDS and underscore the importance of further research in this area. Fewer new diseases, illnesses less severe, psychological improvements, fewer hospitalizations where experienced on on patients that where prayed for.
Dr. William Harris Study – Intercessory Prayer
Dr. William Harris Ph.D Professor of Medicine – University of Missouri School of Medicine, set out to test the results of patients prayed for in a private hospitals coronary care unit.
Intercessory prayer, the practice of praying for the well-being of others, has been a traditional response to illness for centuries. Dr. William Harris set out to investigate whether remote intercessory prayer for cardiac patients hospitalized will reduce the occurrence of adverse events and shorten the length of their stay.
This was done with a randomized, controlled, double-blind, prospective, parallel-group trial was conducted. This study took place in a private, university-affiliated hospital. A total of nine hundred ninety consecutive patients who were newly admitted to the coronary care unit (CCU) participated in this study.
Patients were randomly assigned to receive remote intercessory prayer (prayer group) or receive usual care (usual care group) after being admitted. The first names of patients in the prayer group were provided to a team of external intercessors, who prayed for them daily over a period of 4 weeks. Patients remained unaware that they were subjects of prayer, and the intercessors had no knowledge of, nor did they meet, the patients.
The medical progression from CCU admission to hospital discharge was assessed using a CCU course score derived from a retrospective chart review conducted by blinded reviewers. In comparison to the usual care group (n = 524), the prayer group (n = 466) displayed lower mean +/- SEM weighted (6.35 +/- 0.26 vs. 7.13 +/- 0.27; P=.04) and unweighted (2.7 +/- 0.1 vs. 3.0 +/- 0.1; P=.04) CCU course scores. There was no difference in the lengths of CCU and hospital stays.
Results: Remote intercessory prayer was associated with reduced CCU course scores, indicating that prayer may serve as an effective complement to standard medical care. Patients prayed from were found to be approx. 11% better then the patients who did not receive prayer.
Dr. Mitchell W. Krucoff Study – Noetic Therapies
Mitchell Krucoff M.D. , Director of Clinical Trials at Duke Research Institute has conducted multiple experiments in noetic therapies.
Researchers from Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI), Duke University Medical Center, the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC), and seven other esteemed academic medical institutions across the United States have made a significant discovery in this field. Scientific methodologies have been applied on a large scale to investigate some of the world’s most ancient healing traditions.
After September 11, 2001, studies in this field experienced a substantial decline in enrollment rates for approximately three months. During this period, the research team decided to enhance the study by introducing a two-tiered prayer strategy.
They introduced twelve additional “second-tier” prayer groups. When new patients were incorporated into the groups already receiving intercessory prayers as part of the study, the second-tier prayer groups were tasked with praying for the primary prayer groups that had been consistently offering prayers for these patients. This innovative design was developed to simulate a more potent dose of prayer for the remaining patients participating in the study.
Results: The patients who received this “two-tiered” prayer approach exhibited a remarkable decrease of around 30 percent in the absolute rates of death and re-hospitalization over a six-month period when compared to the control group.
Conclusion of Intercessory Prayer Experiments
Few experiments receive more scrutiny then prayer experiments. Materialists adhere to the idea that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence; however in the process create a critical standard so high, nothing would pass it.
One of the common objections is that we cannot know for sure if a control group truly received no prayer at all. However it would be obvious to the readers of these studies that the prayer groups would have had on average a significantly higher amount of people praying for them then the ‘no prayer groups.’
Based on evidence alone we can conclude that prayer effects the people prayed for. This is not only based on personal testimonies of billions of people across the world, but also in scientific experimentation. It should be notated if any drug or device had the efficacy rate of these experiments, it would have been put into production for patient use immediately.
It is interesting to find that these experiments coincide with the Biblical accounts of healing. That God does not heal everyone, evertime, and that healing is done according to His will, for he uses everything, even difficult times and sickness for His purposes.
The Incredible Power of Prayer by David W. Balsiger, L.H.D.
Conversation with God by Lloyd Ogivie, D.D.
Sacred Healing by C. Norman Shealy M.D. Ph.D
The Healing Power of Faith by Harold Koenig, M.D.
The Faith Factor by Dale Matthews, M.D.