Truth in the News?
Reports of another study (there have been several over the past many years) on the healing power of prayer have been in the papers the past few days. Apparently they found no statistically significant support for the notion that prayer helps the healing process.
Can it be that there is more insight in a parody than in the reports themselves? Scott Ott writes:
(2006-03-31) — A team of scientists today ended a 10-year study on the so-called “power of prayer” by concluding that God cannot be manipulated by humans, not even by scientists with a $2.4 million research grant.
The scientists also noted that their work was “sabotaged by religious zealots” secretly praying for study subjects who were supposed to receive no prayer.
The allegations came at a news conference where researchers announced their findings that intercessory prayer by two Roman Catholic religious communities and a group from the Missouri-based Unity church failed to produce better results for patients recovering from heart surgery.
“As it turns out, God was not impressed by our academic credentials, our substantial funding base, and our rigorous study protocols,” said lead researcher Dr. Herbert Benson, a cardiologist and director of the Mind/Body Medical Institute near Boston. “I get the feeling we just spent 10 years looking through the wrong end of the telescope.”
While patients who knew they were the targets of the study’s intercessory prayer team actually had more post-operative complications, Dr. Benson admitted he failed to prevent friends and relatives from praying for the “no prayer” control group.
“It really burns me up that we worked so hard, only to be undermined by an anonymous army of intellectual weaklings on their knees,” he said.
Dr. Benson said he would now seek $10 million in grants to explore whether fire can be called down from heaven to kindle a pile of wood. The control group’s wood will be drenched in water to prevent combustion.
While scripture teaches us to pray - as an act of worship, as a way of living out a relationship with God and to cry out to God with our needs - scripture taken as a whole does not incline us to think prayer is a technology to manipulate God to get us what we want. We pray, not because prayer works, but because we belong to God.