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Essay The Biology of Prayer and Healing

Decent Essays
The Biology of Prayer and Healing

“When we set ourselves to the work of collecting or re-collecting the scattered pieces of ourselves, we begin a task which, if carried to its natural conclusions, ultimately becomes prayer.”

Skepticism

Science and Faith: Freud, one of the most well respected researchers of the human experience, claims that religion is a “universal neurosis that civilization substitutes for a more authentic personal reality based on scientific knowledge” (Jones and Butman, 1991, 77). Thus, to presume that illness and healing have anything to do with spirituality is absurd.

Testability: Prayer and faith have no universal method of testing. Nor can it be proven that prayer is effective, for who can
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For all intents and purposes, prayer in this discussion simply means a non-local language that says something about who we are and where our destiny may be (Dossey, 1993, 6).

Prayer Treatment: the practice of people praying for someone else. This does not imply medical or surgical treatments may not also be prescribed.

Research

• The first accepted study correlating prayer to physical health was Collipp (1969), who followed eighteen terminally ill children. Ten were selected to be prayed for by Protestant Christians, while the other eight had no known prayer for their healing. The people praying only knew the names, genders, and basic conditions of those for whom they were praying. Neither the children, nor their families, nor the doctors were informed of the prayer treatment. After fifteen months, seven of the ten children receiving prayer treatment were alive, while only two of the eight not receiving treatment survived.

• Byrd (1988) retested Collipp’s findings with a larger sample. 393 patients in the coronary care unit were assigned to two groups, one to receive daily prayer treatment from born-again Christian intercessors along with normal treatment and one to receive the normal treatment alone. After ten months, twenty-one of twenty-six medical measures of health were better in the patients who received prayer treatments (Byrd 1988) including only three
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