Pray for me—if you ever pray!

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God comes up empty-handed in the largest, longest study of the effect of intercessory prayer. In a study of 1,800 heart bypass surgery patients, the American Heart Journal finds that remote orisons not only don't make any difference, they actually make things worse. (If that seems paradoxical, consider the lilies of the field.)

The team recruited patients who were about to undergo coronary bypass surgery at six US hospitals. They randomly assigned them to one of three groups: about 600 were told that they might be prayed for but were not; 600 were told that they might be prayed for and were; and another 600 were prayed for and knew about it…

Each night of the trial, the team faxed a list of the patients to be prayed for to three Christian groups, whose members prayed for successful surgery and a quick recovery…

The investigators found that praying made no difference to the health of patients who didn't know whether they were being prayed for or not. But the group who knew that they were being prayed for was approximately 14% more at risk of complications, mainly abnormal heart rhythms. Perhaps, the investigators suggest, this was because it made them more anxious.

"It may have made them uncertain, wondering am I so sick they had to call in their prayer team?" Dr. Charles Bethea tells The New York Times.

An earlier Duke U. study came to a similarly ungodly result.

"Don't pray when it rains if you don't pray when the sun shines," said Satchel Paige. More prayer quotes here.

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  1. So remote prayer from strangers doesn’t heal people? Huh!

    Still no cure for cancer.

  2. Ah, but one really holy person doing a generic prayer for all the sick people in the world could throw all the experimental controls off. What they really need is a Faraday cage for prayer.

  3. I have to wonder how much they spent on this study, because I could have told them that prayer didn’t jack shit for $5.

  4. EDIT: …didn’t do jack…

  5. Maybe I better stop praying to St. Anthony to help me find my passport. Better yet, maybe I should STFU and cough up $160 to USPS to get an expedited replacement.

  6. Smacky: you have to annoint the area with corn syrup. and the noam chomsky blow up doll (with its assless chaps on)

    back on topic: checking on this investigation with studies of the occult/amulets/curses would be interesting. in which cultures to they “work”, which don’t they.

    but that would get the jeebusfreaks in a panic, because things would be shown to have a cultural component and not be these wonderful, black-and-white absolutes.

    (Akira: get some fancy business cards and a cool-looking web site, and you can go into business like that!)

    cheers

  7. “It may have made them uncertain, wondering am I so sick they had to call in their prayer team?”

    That would be one guess as to why they fared worse. Another guess might be that some of them were so overconfident and/or relaxed that their surgeries were complicated. Sometimes adrenaline and other fear/uncertainty responses can be beneficial to people. Though I’m not a surgeon. I am just suggesting that known intervention of some sort (prayer in this instance) might throw a wrench in what would otherwise be a standard procedure.

    This reminds me of a weekday evening in April after gradeschool that I experienced growing up as a young Catholic. I didn’t have my report finished so I prayed my hardest for it to blizzard and for school to be cancelled. Low and behold, it did blizzard and school was cancelled the next morning. What really bit my ass was when I realized I left my report and all the materials for it in my desk at school, which was closed for the day. I still got a shitty grade on the paper and points off for being handed in late, despite the heavensent snow day.

    And from that day on, I was a Satanist.

  8. Actually, a better business would be to set up a prayer site where sick people could pay a small fee and have an entire prayer network pray for them. It should be easy enough to get enough prayer-sayers to do good works for free and it should be easy enough to bilk a nice chunk of change from sick people who figure it’s worth a shot. The only problem I see is eliminating liability but I’m sure that could be overcome.

  9. Yeah, but in my cursory examination of the article I don’t see any breakdown for how the Catholic patients fared relative to the Protestant patients. I see that the Catholics were roughly 30% of the patients, but I don’t see statistics on how the Catholics fared in relative terms.

    Everybody knows that God likes us Catholic better. I mean, duh!

    🙂

  10. To be serious, this sort of study is well worth doing. The scientific method is about testing hypotheses. There’s much to be said for rigorously testing a widely-believed hypothesis, even if you have good reason to believe that the majority are wrong.

    In fact, that’s an even better reason to test their hypothesis.

  11. They should really go whole hog and offer some of the patients a chance to have animals or even virgins sacrificed on their behalf. I mean, having some well-meaning busybodies mumble incantations for you is alright, but if you’re really sick I think something more drastic is called for. We are talking about heart surgery after all. Prayer might work for the flu, but when dealing with the heart I think a really good blood sacrifice is in order.

  12. Fox News just came out with a “retort” from the Faith Healers. A Catholic priest and a religious doctor they had on claimed that the study was faulty because “you can’t measure faith.”

  13. To be serious, this sort of study is well worth doing. The scientific method is about testing hypotheses. There’s much to be said for rigorously testing a widely-believed hypothesis, even if you have good reason to believe that the majority are wrong.

    thoreau,

    You really think so? I think this sort of study belongs in a sociological study, a.k.a. a bullshit study, or a psychology study, and not in a real scientific study. There are too many inexplicable possibilities as to the results, or worse, too many biased explanations.

  14. The problem, thoreau, is that when the results come up negative, it’s explained away as the product of supernatural phenomenon being impossible to measure objectively, but if it comes up positive, it’s hailed as the final proof of divine grace.

    So, I think generally any non-religious person is going to say this study is pointless, and the religious community is just going to use it or ignore it as necessary.

  15. Tsk. Another blow to the “God as vending machine” model.

    But the group who knew that they were being prayed for was approximately 14% more at risk of complications, mainly abnormal heart rhythms. Perhaps, the investigators suggest, this was because it made them more anxious.

    Kinda similar to what smacky said, I wonder if another explanation might be “moral hazard,” which the insurance industry must deal with. Basically, if you think your ass is covered no matter what you do, you tend to be less careful. Maybe if the prayed-for patients really felt overconfident as a result, they were less anxious and careful about taking medications, watching what they ate, or following a doctor’s orders were. (Caveat: I don’t have time to RTFA.)

  16. Stretch,
    “The only problem I see is eliminating liability but I’m sure that could be overcome.”

    Easy: Sometimes God says “No” (or “Die” as the case may be).

  17. smacky: agree – with voodoo etc. faith healing, curses, and so on.

    nice to see you and t don’t check out the rest of the postings. /sob. sniffle/

  18. smacky: agree – with voodoo etc. faith healing, curses, and so on.

    nice to see you and t don’t check out the rest of the postings. /sob. sniffle/

  19. Yet another explanation: The faithful people who knew they were being prayed for are exactly the kind of people God wants in heaven, so He speeded up the process of their arrival. (I was going to end that with “Hallelujah!” but I’m not quite that cynical or irreverant, so I’ll just mention the Law of Unintended Consequences.)

    There are too many inexplicable possibilities as to the results, or worse, too many biased explanations.

    Yep.

    The problem, thoreau, is that when the results come up negative, it’s explained away as the product of supernatural phenomenon being impossible to measure objectively, but if it comes up positive, it’s hailed as the final proof of divine grace.

    And yep.

    There’s a lot of room to ret-con in religious matters.

    Fox News just came out with a “retort” from the Faith Healers. A Catholic priest and a religious doctor they had on claimed that the study was faulty because “you can’t measure faith.”

    Come to think of it, there is a warning not to “put God to the test” somewhere in the Bible. Shame on you, researchers, for not reading your Bible. Tsk.

  20. What’s really interesting here is that prayer wasn’t shown to have no effect, it was just shown to have a negative one. It seems to me that this is proof of god’s existence, and he’s clearly pissed at being bothered with all this nonsense.

  21. Perhaps they should have tried praying to the flying spaghetti monster?

  22. about 600 were told that they might be prayed for but were not; 600 were told that they might be prayed for and were; and another 600 were prayed for and knew about it…

    This is clearly the Devil’s study. Its results should be ignored.

  23. Maybe they just didn’t pray hard enough, or maybe they were like so many religious people who pretend to be virtuous but just can’t do it. Think of Bill Clinton with his pants around his ankles and Monica smoking his cigar.

    By the way, what does this have to do with the lilies of the field?

  24. What’s really interesting here is that prayer wasn’t shown to have no effect, it was just shown to have a negative one. It seems to me that this is proof of god’s existence, and he’s clearly pissed at being bothered with all this nonsense.

    A separate article I read reported that it only showed a worsening effect on the 600 who were being prayed about and knew about it. So, for some reason, apparently, knowing you’re being prayed for has a negative effect on your health.

  25. Back when the allegedly “pro-prayer” experimental results were all the rage, I was baffled as to why religious believers would find that comforting. Are we to assume that God is subject to the whims of the electorate? If some anonymous philanthropist and doer-of-good-deeds were lying sick in a hospital alongside, say, an equally sick Michael Jackson, that God’s grace would be bestowed more greatly upon Michael simply because the King of Pop has an inexplicably large contingent of supporters, whereas the other guy made the mistake of not hiring a publicist?

    If experiments bore out the effectiveness of “the power of prayer”, I’d be much more comfortable rationalizing it in terms of focused psychic energies or some such, rather than the image of God as a Roman Emperor at the Colliseum, looking to the crowd before giving a thumbs up or down.

  26. A separate article I read reported that it only showed a worsening effect on the 600 who were being prayed about and knew about it. So, for some reason, apparently, knowing you’re being prayed for has a negative effect on your health.

    I really should read the other posts on the thread before adding my own in the future.

    Thoreau,
    The scientific method is about testing hypotheses. There’s much to be said for rigorously testing a widely-believed hypothesis, even if you have good reason to believe that the majority are wrong.

    The problem is that the study wasn’t really testing a hypothesis that’s widely held at all. The popular hypothesis involves an intelligent God who works in mysterious ways, and that alone invalidates any meaningful testing of the hypothesis.

  27. Jesus,
    Save me from your followers
    Amen

  28. I’ve been praying for all of you, but that obviously hasn’t worked.

    Prayer might work for the flu, but when dealing with the heart I think a really good blood sacrifice is in order.

    Cut out the virgins’ young, strong hearts with a sharp rock and then sell ’em for transplants.

  29. The popular hypothesis involves an intelligent God who works in mysterious ways, and that alone invalidates any meaningful testing of the hypothesis.

    I test your Faith by suspending My miracles while you attempt to measure them.

  30. My comment is similar to that of Umbriel, above. I had fellow believers ask me about the cogency of prayer studies some time before these findings, and even at that point I had serious doubts about them. God is not an automaton and need not respond in a mechanical fashion. He has a will of his own, and analogous to observer effects in quantum mechanics, a study like this might actually affect the results.

  31. I think Thoreau is right about the good of these studies in testing hypotheses in one respect certainly:

    There has long been medical hypotheses about the role of patients’ attitudes in healing.

    The psychology of prayer in healing merits study. The fact that there was a 14% deficiency in the prayer knowledgeable group alone, means that there is something real at work here that bears upon medical practice.

    (Maybe now doctors will warn patients’ relatives not to let them know if they’re being prayed for?)

  32. Jumbie-

    Good point. Whatever one might think about the usefulness of testing hypotheses about prayer, hypotheses about the role of attitude in health are very important. It’s worth understanding more about the interplay between mental state and recovery.

    For instance, the placebo effect is real. I don’t know that researchers have a good handle on the mechanism, but it’s real. It’s worth learning more about it, so that clinicians can boost the odds of recovery by supplementing a treatment with appropriate therapy or recreation or support groups or whatever it takes to keep the mood positive and improve the odds of recovery.

    This study doesn’t tell us how placebos work, but it does tell us that not every act which some would consider uplifting (no, not atheists, I know) will automatically improve clinical outcomes. In some cases, things that we might think are encouraging can actually make clinical outcomes worse by a statistically significant margin. And that is worth knowing.

    And if that clinically relevant piece of information also addresses a commonly held hypothesis in society, well, so much the better.

  33. the group who knew that they were being prayed for was approximately 14% more at risk

    So when an atheist gets in a heated discussion with a fundamentalist, and the fundamentalist says, “I’ll pray for you,” it’s actually a threat. I knew it. Fuckers.

  34. thoreau @ 2:45pm,

    Why?

  35. STRETCH ponders: Actually, a better business would be to set up a prayer site where sick people could pay a small fee and have an entire prayer network pray for them.

    SH: Already been done, many times over. It’s called (among other titles) the Christian Broadcasting Network.

    Sure, they say they’ll pray for ya without a donation, but I think we all know that’s not going to be near as powerful as when you send them a few bones.

    Reminds me of late 80s Televangelist Phenom Robert Tilton who operated “Word of Faith” out of a North Dallas sanctuary.

    60 Minutes or Dateline did a segment on him and they quizzed him as to why a Dallas TX preacher felt the need to buy a 4.5million dollar seaside home in San Diego.

    Dude had an explanation ready. Seems that the number of prayer requests and donations came in such a flurry that they could not possibly be handled individually.

    So Tilton would place them in a big pile on the floor, take off his clothes and wallow in the pile while praying loudly to JESUS on their behalf.

    BIG PROBLEM…The various inks used in that bevy of prayer requests penetrated his epidermis, resulting in severe allergic reactions and skin rashes. His doctor’s proscription?

    Move to a house by the sea. The salt air will flush out the ink toxins from your body and you’ll be right back at the tele-pulpit with a restored spring in your step.

  36. anon2-

    The scientific method is the tool by which we rule out false hypotheses.

  37. thoreau,

    There are an infinite number of false hypothesis. We can’t test them all.

    There are a huge, though not technically infinite, amount of goofy beliefs widely held. With an infinite number of false hypothesis , and no need to test them all, we come back to you “widely held” criterion. Your response @ 5:34 doesn’t elaborate on why widely held is important and your 2:45 post doesn’t suggest that there’s any limit to which widely held beliefs need to be tested.

    Should we also test prayer as it relates to high school football games?

  38. BTW, there’s more than one tool to rule out false hypothesis. In math, for instance, proofs are used. In science, logic is used many orders of magnitude more than tests, because logic, when applied properly, covers a lot more ground than tests. Without logic and statistics, it would be impossible to extrapolate information from test results.

    Your 2:42 post was meant as a joke, but your 2:45 post suggests that we really do need to test the various denominations as well as the various different kinds of prayer.

  39. I’m not a religious person, but even when I was (I was raised Catholic) I always subscribed to the credo that “prayer doesn’t change things; prayer changes people, and people change things.”

  40. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I also thought that in addition addition to establshing a correlation one also had to postulate a mechanism by which a causation might occur.

    I suppose in the case of prayer it is sufficient to say “we prayed to God, He heard our prayers, He intervened in the way we wished him to, and we are under no obligation to explain the mysteries of the Lord”.

    However in the case of psychic phenomena, say, I think one has to demonstrate that there is actually some mechanism by which thoughts are sent from one person to another. So far I don’t think psychics have described a means by which this happens, say, in the same way that scientists have described the way that radio waves are transmitted and received.

    What say you?

  41. anon2-

    You make a good point. We can’t tell the entire scientific community to drop everything and work on, say, whatever theory Dave W. currently subscribes to.

    However, while I back off to some extent from my initial comments in this thread, I still see this work as valuable. The role of mood and attitude in healing is a problem of practical significance. Studies have been done on whether people recover better (in concrete, measurable terms) when active in a support group, and so forth. The placebo effect remains a subject of active study, because it’s clear that there’s some sort of mechanism in the body that can alleviate a wide range of diseases.

    Given that this body of work exists as an area of active inquiry, it is worth investigating whether other things believed to affect mood (e.g. the assurance that people of similar beliefs are praying for you) can also affect recovery. The fact that the result is actually the opposite of what you’d expect from, say, the placebo effect makes the study even more significant. It suggests that there’s more to the role of mood in healing than just positive thoughts and reassurance.

    So I see it as a worthwhile investigation. And if it also happens to address a question that a lot of laymen are interested in, well, that’s icing on the cake.

    (The icing is made with cane sugar, of course.)

  42. hmmmmmmmm maybe because the concept of ‘god’ is a false one.

  43. Derrida says that only atheists know how to pray.

    If you know who you’re addressing, it’s just an order, not a prayer, like ordering pizza.

    http://rhhardin.home.mindspring.com/derrida2.ram , about 20 minutes in.

  44. thoreau,

    I might find that it’s a worthwhile investigation too. I don’t know enough about the study to make up my mind.

    Although the study itself isn’t available online, there’s an interesting editorial in the American Heart Journal that’s freely available and worth reading. It includes this interesting comment:

    “Compared with the very high level of study design, conduct, and analysis, the STEP investigators’ interpretation of the study results appears to reflect more the cultural bias that healing prayer could only seriously be explored for effectiveness, not for safety issues.”

    That looks like a pretty major oversight for an allegedly scientific undertaking, but it’s a meta-flaw that doesn’t invalidate the worth of the results.

  45. What a stupid test. As if God doesn’t know what is going on, and doesn’t manipulate who does or does not have health complications in whatever manner he sees fit.

    God is just screwing with the researchers!

    Muhahahaha

  46. I sold a Prudential health insurance policy to a prominent faith-healer.
    I once participated in a “laying on of hands” before a fervent mainline protestant congregation. The recipient died shortly thereafter.
    These experiences made me an “expert.” So, listen up.

    You’ve heard, “We’re here. We’re queer. Get used to it.”?
    Goddess ain’t there. Her sexual proclivities are, therefore, irrelevant. Get used to it.

  47. anon2-

    I think the merit of this research program really depends on the broader context of what else the researcher is doing. If this research group is also investigating recovery rates among people who go into support groups, how people with depression recover from diseases, whether having lots of relatives visit at the hospital improves or impedes recovery, and other issues regarding how psychology and medicine interface, then I think it is an interesting contribution to a significant field.

  48. Steve writes: “God is not an automaton and need not respond in a mechanical fashion. He has a will of his own, and analogous to observer effects in quantum mechanics, a study like this might actually affect the results.”

    So, Steve, how regularly do you and god sit down and have a beer so “he” can can lay this stuff on you.

    Perhaps you should resign yourself to stop believing in god, Santa, and the Easter Bunny?

  49. I don’t know, I’ve been praying to Santa Rita lately, and she’s been making me feel real fine.

  50. Maimonides actually mentions a category of stupid prayer. If you’re returning from a trip and see a house burning in your town, don’t pray, “oh, G-d, let it not be my house,” because by now it either is your house or it isn’t.

  51. In any case, as we Jews know, G-d is primarily a real estate agent.

  52. Amy,

    Thanks for your note. Why think that God, Santa, and the Easter Bunny are in the same category? Even conceptually speaking, if you’ve reflected on the subject at all, it’s difficult to see how you can lump them all together this way.

  53. I lump them together because people believe in all of them without evidence they exist. It’s 2006. Perhaps it’s time for a rational orientation to existence? See the-brights.net for more information, or The End of Faith by Sam Harris, or Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell. It’s very primitive to believe in god, and a sequestering of rational thought. Personally, I think it’s kind of embarrassing.

  54. The psychology of prayer in healing merits study. The fact that there was a 14% deficiency in the prayer knowledgeable group alone, means that there is something real at work here that bears upon medical practice.

    14% over 600 patients is ridiculously miniscule and not statistically interesting. 14% might merit a larger-scale study, but the 14% in and of itself means little.

  55. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I also thought that in addition addition to establshing a correlation one also had to postulate a mechanism by which a causation might occur.

    Depends on what you’re doing. Raw statistics can only demonstrate correlation; to show causation you have to have a controlled experiment, which this appears to be an attempt at.

    You need not postulate a causative mechanism in order to conclusively show causation exists; it’s enough to simply show that the cause-effect relationship works. Without some kind of postulate for the mechanism, though, it’s unlikely that you’re going to get much interest, grant money, etc. to continue your research.

    As has been mentioned, we know the placebo effect works, even though we don’t know what the exact mechanism is.

    However in the case of psychic phenomena, say, I think one has to demonstrate that there is actually some mechanism by which thoughts are sent from one person to another.

    Again, not necessarily. The JREF, for instance, offers a million dollars to anyone who can conclusively demonstrate “supernatural” powers in a controlled experiment. That would be an incredible result – conclusive evidence of any of the usual “psychic” powers would be a bombshell all by itself. And when you’re experimenting with new science, it’s important to show that the effect you’re researching actually exists before spending any money on exploring the mechanism. For instance, a research study that tries to determine whether intercessory prayer is carried by telepathic radio waves or rectally-sourced ethereal primates is pointless until you know whether intercessory prayer itself even exists.

    So far I don’t think psychics have described a means by which this happens, say, in the same way that scientists have described the way that radio waves are transmitted and received.

    Not true! Isaac Bonewits, in his book “Real Magic”, postulates that psychic phenomena are transmitted via extremely low-wavelength radio frequencies generated by the electrical activity in the brain. The problem is that this is a very testable hypothesis, and in fact has been – early experiments in telepathy and remote viewing involved putting the participants in shielded booths.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, the fact that being in a shielded booth or not being in a shielded booth had little effect on the non-performance of psychic powers is pretty conclusive evidence that this is not the mechanism by which psychic powers work.

    But then, we’re in angels-dancing-on-the-head-of-a-pin territory now; there’s no evidence that psychic powers even exist, so arguing the mechanism by which they do is pointless. Which neatly wraps up the answer to your question, I think.

  56. My favorite prayer for healing: (must be prayed with hyperreligious-sounding voice) “Dear Jee-zus, my husband’s at death’s door. Please pull him through.”

  57. Amy,

    Thanks for your response. Your characterization of religious belief is grossly inaccurate – as is that of Harris and “the brights”. Both historically and in 2006.

    For example, the Reformers understood faith as composed of three aspects – notitia (evidence), assensus (agreement with the evidence), and fiducia (trust or confidence in the evidence). So faith is trusting in what one knows or has good reason to believe. This is part and parcel of the Christian faith all the back to the content of the Scriptures themselves. Now, this characterization of faith is not as convenient to the Sam Harrises of the world, who want to maintain a strawman to knock down, but it is the historic understanding.

    Even today, there are high-ranking intellectuals in every discipline that take the life of the mind seriously in relation to their faith. Take Richard Swinburne or Alvin Plantinga. No one familiar with their work could say that they are simply irrational or turn a blind eye to evidence relevant to religious questions.

    Much more could be said, but perhaps we can follow up sometime on your blog. Until then, take care.

  58. Thanks for the response, DogRiverDan, you pretty much confirmed what I thought.

    My first sentence was carelessly worded. It wasn’t exactly what I meant.

    And actually now that you mention it I do recall hearing about the radio wave/psychic deal.

  59. “Much more could be said, but perhaps we can follow up sometime…”

    Sure, Steve. Try following up with the evidence you say exists, and we might have something to talk about. In the meantime…. (sound of crickets)

  60. Speedwell –

    There are a number of things that could be appealed to. What, for example, is your opinion regarding the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth? Christianity stands or falls on that one, so why not consider it first?

  61. I am commenting on a purely faith level.

    The study doesn’t mention if the subjects were Christians. That is patients that had a personal relationship with Jesus. I would venture to say that those that do would find the fact that people are praying for them comforting.

    We should spend more time studying things that will actually make a difference and leave who lives and dies in the hand of the One that created them in the first place.

    As a Christian I find most of the comments made in this forum offensive and judgmental. Prayer gives comfort to those that allow it to. It is much more complex than physical reactions. I don’t think it is our place to try and figure it out. You either have faith or you don’t. You either give control to God and have peace and comfort or you don’t. The question is not whether prayer works. The question is are we couragous enough to give control to God, whom we cannot see and in whom some do not believe.

    I personally have experienced answers to prayer that involved physical health. That’s not to say that I wasn’t anxious about the outcome. I was however, less anxious than I would have been if I didn’t know people were praying for me. But then I have faith. Maybe that’s the issue.

  62. Rose,
    Are you yellow? Are you from Texas?
    If so, I’m longin’ for thee.
    Are you willing to be the 73rd voigin?
    I promise to be gentle.

    I’m not about to give control to God.
    Hell, I’m not even gonna give control to Allah.
    Get outta here!

  63. So the bumper stickers are right…..

    Prayer Changes Things………

    for the worse………..

  64. The study itself is far from pointless, it is another piece of information you can choose to use to your benefit or ignore. Besides which, it is always nice to be proven right.

    The only thing worthless that could be related to this study is the hope that it will convince dogmatic faith healers to abandon their farce. No study no matter how conclusive or exhaustive will ever outweigh their faith. God said it, they believe it, and that’s that. To even bring such a point up about any study is totally pointless.

  65. It never ceases to amuse me how important and special religious people think we all are.

    An incredibly powerful (not to mention contradictive) diety created the whole universe, and the only thing important to him is some measly little civilization on one unimportant planet.

    Somehow, Rose, I doubt you would say it is up to Jesus who lives and dies when your firstborn child lies deathly ill. Not to mention which if you did, I would be rather frightened with regard to your mental stability.

    Hmph, always that line about what is our place. If God found it so displeasing, let him strike us down with all of his mighty power. Yeah, I don’t see a lightning bolt coming through my window. Or was that Zeus?

    All this talk of delicate sensibilities and offended values is simply a thinly veiled attempt at convincing us of your superior moral station.

    Disgusting as are they all.

  66. Perhaps this can (at least partially) be attrributed to the misunderstanding of the purpose of prayer in modern evangelical circles?

  67. As a Christian I find most of the comments made in this forum offensive and judgmental. Prayer gives comfort to those that allow it to. It is much more complex than physical reactions. I don’t think it is our place to try and figure it out. You either have faith or you don’t. You either give control to God and have peace and comfort or you don’t. The question is not whether prayer works. The question is are we couragous enough to give control to God, whom we cannot see and in whom some do not believe.

    Why is it not our place to figure it out? If you believe in God, don’t you believe that he gave us the ability to reason intentionally? If such is the case, why would God then expect us to not use this gift – the one gift that drastically sets us apart from all other life on this planet?

    What does it mean to “give control to God”? In what ways do you give control to God? Do you take medicine when you are sick? Do you eat food when you are hungry? When God doesn’t spell out an answer to a prayer, how do you determine his guidance? Do you go with your feelings? Are these feelings God’s way of communicating? How do you know? The reality is that you don’t give God control in most all areas of your life. That statement might upset you, but I say it with confidence that it is true; if it weren’t, you wouldn’t be alive to write your comment. I apologize if my statements are found offensive. Truth, sometimes, can be incredibly painful.

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