I have blogged before about how these sorts of studies do not prove one way or the other about whether prayer can affect a person's healing.
As an evangelical who believes in the exclusivity of the Christian faith and the power of God to heal if and when he chooses, it struck me as odd that the investigators used the prayers of people from non-evangelical churches:
The researchers asked the members of three congregations — St. Paul's Monastery in St. Paul; the Community of Teresian Carmelites in Worcester, Mass.; and Silent Unity, a Missouri prayer ministry near Kansas City — to deliver the prayers, using the patients' first names and the first initials of their last names.So, two Catholic congregations and the "Silent Unity" church in Missouri. This latter church appears to accept all religions as equal and is happy to pray with people of all religious faiths.
The only way a conclusive study of this subject can be achieved is to limit the prayers to evangelical churches and for the participants in the study to be subject to "double blind" testing which means that both the pray-ers and the persons prayed for do not realise that a test is being conducted.
One final essential element is God's participation in the test. God is the one who ultimately answers prayer - prayer is not what heals people, but God. If my house is on fire and I call the fire brigade to put it out, I don't praise the power of the telephone to put out fires - the same needs to be said about prayer. And since God is involved, and because God refuses to be tested, He also would have to be subject to being double-blinded by the testers, which is very hard to do given his omniscience and omnipresence.
Given these particualr restrictions, it is fairly clear that God's ability to answer the prayers of his saints regarding sick people cannot be scientifically proven through testing and quantitative analysis.
From the Theosalient Department
© 2006 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/
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