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The Power of Anonymous Prayer
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I thought it was a well-established phenom, that prayer for an ill person, even by strangers at a distance, had some effect on the outcome of their condition. Now I see the following in today's Washington Post:

Prayer's Power to Heal Strangers Is Examined
Cardiac Patients in New Study Fared No Better With Spiritual Intercession

By Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 15, 2005; Page A08

Praying for sick strangers does not improve their prospects of recovering, according to a large, carefully designed study that casts doubt on the widely held belief that being prayed for can help a person heal.

The study of more than 700 heart patients, one of the most ambitious attempts to test the medicinal power of prayer, showed that those who had people praying for them from a distance, and without their knowledge, were no less likely to suffer a major complication, end up back in the hospital or die.

While skeptics of prayer welcomed the results, other researchers questioned the findings, and proponents of prayer maintained that God's influence lies beyond the reach of scientific validation.

Supposedly the earlier study which did find that prayer helped heart patients was well-constructed, double-blind as well. The final sentence of the citation is the one that really got my attention. What do you think?

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