THE EFFICACY OF PRAYER

 

A reader forwarded this piece, source unknown, although we have found a similar report in The Daily Telegraph dated 15.10.2003:

“The biggest scientific experiment on prayer has failed to find any evidence that it helps to heal the sick.

Doctors in the United States have disclosed that heart patients who were prayed for by groups of strangers recovered from surgery at the same rate as those who were not.

The three-year study, led by cardiologists from Duke University Medical Centre in North Carolina, involved 750 patients in nine hospitals and 12 prayer groups around the world, from Christians in Manchester to Buddhists in Nepal.

Earlier, less extensive, research suggested prayer could have a measurably beneficial effect.

The new research, dubbed the Mantra project, was led by Dr Mitch Krucoff, a cardiologist, whose pilot studies had led him to believe that prayer could have measurably beneficial effects.

Over three years, 750 patients awaiting angioplasty, a procedure to clear obstructions from their arteries, were recruited for the experiment.

Names selected at random by a computer were sent to the 12 prayer groups, who began praying immediately for their recovery. Neither the hospital staff nor the patients and their relatives knew who was being prayed for.

The prayer groups included American Christian mothers, nuns in a Carmelite convent in Baltimore, Sufi Muslims, Buddhist monks in Nepal and English doctors and medical students in Manchester. Prayers were even e-mailed to Jerusalem and placed in the Wailing Wall.

An analysis of the results found that there were no significant differences in the recovery and health of the patients who were prayed for and those who were not”.

Comment:

There are several fundamental flaws in this study, which render it’s conclusions to be valueless. Firstly, the underlying assumption is that “God” will always answer all prayers, with the unstated yet inferred conclusion that if He does not, He cannot. Secondly, it is considered that prayer can only be deemed answered if the answer is the one desired. Thirdly, it is assumed that prayers of a variety of different social groups will increase the likelihood of prayers being answered. And Fourthly, it is assumed that “God’s” purpose is to do man’s bidding, providing for the requirements of mortal men.

  1. The Scripture declares that there are prayers that Yahweh will not hear:

“Yahweh is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous” (Prov. 15:27).

“he that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination” (Prov. 28:9)

“when ye make many prayers, I will not hear” (Isa. 1:15)

“therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble” (Jer. 11:14).

The Apostle John wrote: “This is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to His Will, He heareth us” (1 Jno. 5:14).

The only way that we can determine whether or not our prayers are in accord with “His Will” is by comparing them with Scripture. So whilst the Scientist may draw certain conclusions from not being able to perceive a response to prayer, in actual fact, the prayer may not be in harmony with His Will, and with therefore go unanswered.

  1. It is a mistake to assume that prayer is unheard solely because the answer is not what we anticipated. The pattern of our Master is one for us to emulate:

“O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Mat. 26:39).

Notice, the Master submits his request to the overriding will of the Father – and he does not assume that because the outcome may differ from his will, that the prayer has gone unheard.

Again, Daniels’ friends, when being faced with a fiery trial spake before the king of Babylon:

“our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O King, that we will not serve thy gods …” (Dan. 3:17-18)

Notice again, these men of faith did not anticipate the outcome; rather they remained firm in their resolve to refuse to bow before pagan deities whatever the outcome.

  1. The study in question makes a point of stating that out of 12 prayer groups there were included:

“American Christian mothers, nuns in a Carmelite convent in Baltimore, Sufi Muslims, Buddhist monks in Nepal and English doctors and medical students in Manchester. Prayers were even e-mailed to Jerusalem and placed in the Wailing Wall.”

It is apparently assumed that the more groups, and the greater their diversity, the greater the likelihood of prayers being heard. However, this is not the case: all of the groups named are in the darkest apostasy so far as their relationship to the Truth is concerned, with all of them holding beliefs that contradict each other. Why should the God of Israel heed the petitions of disbelieving Gentiles – whose sole purpose is to challenge His Existence?

  1. Why should the Eternal Uncreate do the bidding of mortal men, who are but dust and ashes? The Almighty is to be served by man, whereas man supposes that He is there for their convenience, to do their bidding! “to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” (Is 66:2) says Yahweh. He will not look to men who despise the holy things contained in His Word, whose thoughts are raised no higher than the grovelling instincts of the flesh permits, and who believe that Almighty’s purpose is to pander to their wants and desires.

In short, all that the study proved was that “God” does not pander to the desires of disbelievers – which is what many of us knew already.

Christopher Maddocks