It’s a profound, if unanswerable, question for many who ask God to heal the sick: Can prayer actually help another person recover from disease?
A group of prominent scientists recently sought at least part of the answer in the largest and most anticipated study of its kind. They concluded that for the patients included in the study, prayer from strangers had no effect on whether the patients suffered complications from coronary artery bypass surgery.
“The effect of intercessory prayer was neutral. It showed no sign of any benefit,” said Charles Bethea, an Oklahoma cardiologist and researcher who participated in the $2.4 million study financed primarily by the John Templeton Foundation, which explores links between religion and science.
The results appeared in an issue of the American Heart Journal in April after it was released online March 30.