Newsletter February 7th 2021 (5th Sunday in Ordinary Time)

Once upon a time some doctors discussing whether prayer helped their patients. “Does it do any good,” they asked, “for people to pray for those who are sick?” One group said “Well, it helps those who pray to feel that they’re doing something for the sick person. But it really doesn’t help the sick person at all.” The other group said that they had the impression that prayer really had a positive effect on sick people. The first group said “That’s scientifically impossible!” So they decided to try a “double blind” experiment on those who were recover from heart problems. They would have prayers said for some and not for the others to see what happened. The doctors didn’t know who was chosen to be prayed for and the subjects of the prayers didn’t know either. However a list of first names were given to those who were to do the praying. So neither the “pray-ers” nor the “pray-ees” nor the researchers knew who had been chosen to be the target of prayer. What happened? Those for whom prayers were said recovered more quickly. “See!” said those who had argued that prayer worked, “there’s more things under heaven than science dreams of.”

(This story of research was reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine.)

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