Fact or Myth: Are the Effects of Prayer Scientifically Proven to Lead to Healing?

Does the effects of prayer lead to mental and physical healing?

This is a FACT.

Most people are surprised to learn that numerous well-conducted, scientifically valid studies provide compelling evidence that the effects of prayer can promote physical healing.

Of course, faithful individuals from every religious denomination have always claimed prayer can heal our bodies along with our souls. But these claims have long been questioned by science.

In an attempt to settle this dispute between science and religion, many researchers have studied the effects of prayer on people’s physical and mental well-being. Believers and non-believers alike have studied prayer, and their results are incredibly compelling.

New Proof of Help from a Higher Power

One of the most recent studies on the effects of “feeling close to a higher power” was done at Wayne State University in Michigan and published this year in Rehabilitation Psychology. ” effects of prayer The research team found that traumatic brain injury victims who feel closer to a higher power actually rehabilitate faster.

“Feeling connected to a higher power positively impacted not only their feelings, but their functional outcomes, what they were able to do,” said head researcher Brigid Waldron-Perrine. “So they didn’t just feel better, there was evidence they functioned better in their ability to do daily tasks.”

Quantifying the Effects of Prayer

Waldron-Perrine’s findings confirm decades of existing proof of prayer’s healing benefits. One of the most frequently cited studies on the subject comes from San Francisco General Hospital’s Coronary Care Unit.

Between August of 1982 and May of 1983, 393 patients in the Coronary Care Unit participated in a double-blind trial assessing the effects of prayer. Through random selection by computer, half the patients were designated to receive prayer and half were not. None of the patients had any way of knowing which group they’d been assigned to, or whether they would receive prayer or not.

At the conclusion of the study, patients who had received prayer were healthier than those who had not. Compared to the control group, the prayed-for patients had less need for…

    • CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation)
    • Mechanical ventilators
    • Diuretics
    • Antibiotics

Most importantly, the patients who were prayed for had fewer occurrences of a serious condition called pulmonary edema (which often leads to heart failure) and fewer deaths.

According to the doctors at San Francisco General, the positive outcomes for those patients could only be attributed to the power effects of prayer.

Prayer and Long-Term Health

Not only can effects of prayer be an important curative tool in times of crisis, but it can also promote a sustained state of well-being. A fascinating study conducted by researchers from the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond analyzed the lives of 1,902 sets of twins.

It turned out that twins committed to spiritual lives tended to have lower rates of:

    • Depression
    • Addiction
    • Divorce

The Richmond study indicated that active involvement in a spiritual community is strongly linked to overall stability and health.

This is Your Brain on God

Most extraordinary of all is the way prayer has been shown to produce physical changes in the brain. Barbara Bradley Hagerty put together a 5-part NPR series called, “Is This Your Brain on God?” In the series, Hagerty explores a possible reason that prayer has such restorative and preventative potential. That is, scientists can see noticeable differences between the brains of those who pray or meditate often and those who don’t.

One scientist in particular had published astonishing findings. His name is Andrew Newberg, and he’s a practicing neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania and author of How God Changes Your Brain. Newberg has been scanning the brains of people with religious convictions for more than 10 years. He says meditation in particular has a very visible effect on the brain’s frontal lobe. He believes that the neurological effects of prayer and meditation can be long-lasting.

The Secrets to Maximum Prayer Power

Perhaps the most interesting and important detail of all this research is that certain factors do affect how powerful the benefits of prayer will be. Those factors are basically qualities of human consciousness, like:

    • Caring
    • Compassion
    • Empathy
    • Love

The stronger these qualities are, the greater the benefits of prayer. One thing holds true for all the studies on prayer — and that is that it’s not important what specifically you believe in. What matters is whether you believe in something, and how you put that belief into practice.