Scientific Studies on Prayer – Does Prayer Really Work?

Scientific Studies on Prayer – Does Prayer Really Work?
Larry Dozier


Have you ever seen or experienced medically documented miracles as a result of your prayers? Or maybe it was the result of someone else’s prayers? I certainly have! And for many years, I was a Christian skeptic. As you may know, there is religious teaching in Christianity today that does not believe miracles can happen as result of prayer like they did in the first and second centuries. But, I believe that miracles can happen like they did back then; and I have lifestyle that confirms it. Perhaps some day I will write an article about my Top 10 Prayer Miracles, during my 44 years as a Christian. In the mean time, here are some scientific
studies providing evidence that prayer does make a difference.

Reader’s Digest, – Dec. 2004

“The Healing Power of Prayer: Have a little faith-and lower your risk of depression, heart disease and more”

“…in…Yale University School of Medicine doctors reported that poor people…who believed in a higher
power were less likely than their non-spiritual peers to be depressed…”

“Doctors at Italy’s University of Pavia found that adults who [prayed] had improved lung and heart
function. In a study of 999 cardiac patients from Mid America Heart Institute of St. Luke’s Hospital, those
who unknowingly had others praying for them fared better than those heart patients who didn’t receive
intercessory prayers.”

…studies have shown that prayer promotes healing post-surgery.”

Duke University Medical Center Prayer Study

Dr. Mitch Krucoff, of Duke University Medical Center is renowned for his writings and research on spirituality and medicine and was the principal investigator of Duke’s groundbreaking prayer study. This study was important because, “of all patients tested, the lowest absolute patient complications were observed in patients assigned to offsite prayer….”

“…Even though Prayer has existed in every spiritual tradition, only recently has science begun to validate
that prayer ‘works,’ which in the field of medicine means that patients who are prayed over recover faster
and have fewer complications from serious illness.”

Ladies’ Home Journal – December 2004

“The Healing Power of Prayer” by Kathryn Casey

“In 1998, Harold G. Koenig, M.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University
Medical Center, released a study of 4,000 older adults that concluded that those who prayed daily…had 40
percent less hypertension than those who didn’t.”

“The Healing Power of Prayer” by Kathryn Casey

“…John Astin, Ph.D., of the California Pacific Medical Center, in San Francisco, published a paper in the
Annals of Internal Medicine reviewing studies on prayer…concluding that 57 percent of the studies
showed a positive treatment effect.”

“The Healing Power of Prayer” by Kathryn Casey

“…Edward Creagan, M.D., an oncologist and a professor at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, in Rochester, Minnesota, says he has seen amazing regressions in cancer patients who pray. ‘I have the CAT scans and the biology and pathology reports, and there’s no medical or statistical reason that a group of patients is alive,’ he contends. By interviewing the patients, he believes he’s uncovered a consistent theme: ‘Each of those patients reached out to a higher power.'”

BP News – April 14, 2004

“Chaplain’s service in Iraq abounds with faith & miracles”

“Lt. Carey Cash, a chaplain with his battalion…in [his] new book, ‘A Table in the Presence’…takes his
readers into the hot, dusty, Iraq battlefield to learn how God worked miracles and answered prayers in
individual [Marine’s] lives…”

The Healing Power of Prayer – November 29, 1998

By PARKER LEE NASH, Staff Writer

“Duke University doctors, studying the nontraditional influences on healing, lumped about 20 heart patients into a ‘prayer group’. The patients didn’t know it, but their names were listed on prayer requests sent to places like Nepal, Jerusalem and Baltimore, where people of different faiths prayed for their recovery.

Those prayers worked, doctors say. Patients in the ‘prayer group’ performed 50 to 100 percent better than
patients who weren’t the prayer targets.”

Ladies’ Home Journal – December 2004

“The Healing Power of Prayer” by Kathryn Casey

“…medical schools are now putting it on their curricula. Across America, about 65 percent of medical
schools now offer classes in spirituality. ‘We’re educating students about looking at the traditions and
communities of faith and what support roles they can play during an illness,’ says Stuart Varon, M.D.,
assistant professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore.”

The Healing Power of Prayer – November 29, 1998

By PARKER LEE NASH, Staff Writer

“The first major study that looked at prayer and its healing effects was published in 1988 in the Southern
Medical Journal. Dr. Randy Bird, a cardiologist at the University of California, followed the progress of 393
patients with chest pain and heart trouble. He divided them into two groups. One was prayed for. One was not.

Three people in the prayed-for group required treatment with antibiotics, compared to 17 patients in the group not targeted with prayer. Those who were prayed for also used respirators less and suffered fewer instances of congestive heart failure.

Studies since then also have shown that prayer seems to work, even when the prayers are offered up from very faraway places and from people of different faiths, as in the Duke study.”

Ladies’ Home Journal – December 2004

“The Healing Power of Prayer” by Kathryn Casey

“‘It’s time to stop asking if religion is linked to better health’, says Michael E. McCullough, Ph.D.,
associate professor of psychology…at the University of Miami. ‘It’s time to accept that it is and ask how and
why’…Of the one-third of Americans who pray for health concerns, 75 percent ask for overall good health, while 22 percent request relief from specific conditions, according to a 2004 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.”

“In Dr. McCaffrey’s study, 69 percent of those who prayed for their health said they felt it worked, while in a 1997 Yankelovich survey, 99 percent of family doctors said spiritual practices enhance medical treatment.”


“A Doctor Answers Questions on Faith Healing” by Dr. A. Wageneaar of Hilversum, Holland (medical superintendent, Orchidee Hospital, Hilversum)

“Every physician knows that spontaneous miracles do occur. You will be interested to know that spontaneous healings have been reported in patients who suffer from cancer.

This has been publicized several times in medical journals. Medical science has admitted that miracles do
occur after the prayer of faith.”

The Healing Power of Prayer – November 29, 1998

By PARKER LEE NASH, Staff Writer

“Dr. Elisabeth Targ, a psychiatrist at the California  Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, recruited 40
AIDS patients for a study and found that half who  received prayers-from places as far away as Alaska and
Puerto Rico-required fewer hospitalizations and doctor’s  visits.

In two similar studies this year involving another set  of AIDS patients, Targ recorded significantly better
health in patients who received prayers than in patients  who didn’t.” – 1999 PLIM REPORT, Vol. 8 #4

“Scientific Research of Prayer: Can the Power of Prayer  Be Proven?” by Debra Williams, D.D.

“One of the most quoted scientific studies of prayer was  done between August of 1982 and May of 1983. 393  Patients in the San Francisco General Hospital’s  Coronary Care Unit participated in a double blind study  to assess the therapeutic effects of intercessory  prayer. All participants in the study including
patients, doctors, and the conductor if the study  himself remained blind throughout the study. To guard
against biasing the study, the patients were not  contacted again after it was decided which group would
be prayed for, and which group would not.”

“The results of the study are not surprising to those of  us who believe in the power of prayer. The patients who  had received prayer as a part of the study were  healthier than those who had not. The prayed for group  had less need of having CPR(cardiopulmonary  resuscitation) performed and less need for the use of
mechanical ventilators. They had a diminished necessity  for diuretics and antibiotics, less occurrences of
pulmonary edema, and fewer deaths. Taking all factors  into consideration, these results can only be attributed  to the power of prayer.”

“The power of prayer…” by Dr. Leonard Condren.

“In 1982 a landmark study was conducted over a ten-month  period in San Francisco General Hospital. The study  focused on the effects of prayer on a group of 393  patients in the hospital’s coronary care unit. I have  called this study a landmark study because it was one of  the first of its kind and it followed the strict formula  of a double blind, randomized controlled trial…The  study focused on the impact of the prayer of
intercessors and not have the power of praying  oneself…the people in the coronary care unit did not
know if they were being prayed for or not and the  researchers gathering the data were equally blind on
this point…A good outcome was more frequent on those  that were prayed for than those that were not prayed  for…cardiac arrest, heart failure, pneumonia,  intubation and ventilation were less frequent in the
‘prayed for’ group.”

“The power of prayer…” by Dr. Leonard Condren.

“…the American Heart Journal studied the effect of  intercessory prayer on a group of 150 patients
undergoing angioplasty with stent insertion…The people  under study were randomly assigned to receive
intercessory prayer…Those in the ‘prayed for’ group  experienced fewer complications than any of the other

The Jewish Theological Seminary – December 12, 2004

“Science or Miracle? Holiday Survey Reveals Physicians’  Views of Faith, Prayer and Miracles”

“New York, NY, December 21, 2004-A national survey of  1,100 physicians, conducted by HCD Research and the  Louis Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social  Studies of the Jewish Theological Seminary…found that  74% of doctors believe that miracles have occurred in  the past and 73% believe that can occur today.”

“Those surveyed represent physicians from Christian  (Roman Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox Christian and  other), Jewish (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and  secular) Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist religious

“The on line survey has a plus or minus 2.9 percent  margin or error at a 95 percent level of confidence.”

“Perhaps the most surprising result of the survey is  that a majority of doctors (55%) said that they have
seen treatment results in their patients that they would  consider miraculous…67% encourage their patients to  pray.” – Oct. 16, 2004

Book Review: Healing Words – The Power of Prayer and the  Practice of Medicine

“Santa Fe internist Larry Dossey… advanced the idea  that when it comes to getting well, prayer is as valid a
tool as-though not a replacement for-drugs or surgery.”

Ladies’ Home Journal – December 2004

“The Healing Power of Prayer” by Kathryn Casey

“William Harris, Ph.D., a researcher at Mid America  Heart Institute, in Kansas City, Missouri, studied 990
randomly assigned cardiac patients over a one-year  period.

Unknown to the participants, off-site prayer groups  given only their first names prayed for half of them. At
the end of the study, the group that was prayed for had  11 percent improved outcomes, including fewer
complications. Dr. Harris calls the results  statistically significant: ‘A lot of people pray for  others in the hospital. Does it do any good? Based on  our study, it does.'”

“…in a 2001 infertility study, in which U.S., Canadian  and Australian groups prayed for women in Seoul, Korea,  who were using in-vitro fertilization. The prayed-for  group had a 50 percent higher pregnancy rate.”

“The Healing Power of Prayer” by Kathryn Casey “…Dr.  Benson’s Mind/Body Medical Institute…has used
meditation prayer…successfully to treat stress-related  complaints, high blood pressure, migraines and

From: web site. November 2012.

The above article, “Scientific Studies on Prayer – Does  Prayer Really Work?” is written by Larry Dozier. The  article was excerpted from  website, November 2012.

The material is most likely copyrighted and should not  be reprinted under any other name or author. However,  this material may be freely used for personal study or  research purposes.