Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Intercessory Prayer

Long-Awaited Medical Study Questions the Power of Prayer: If you know you're being prayed for you sometimes do worse.

The studies on Intercessory prayer (the type of prayer where you asking for your 'higher power' to intercede with human affairs on your behalf) have been fairly inconclusive in the past but as better testing methodology is brought to bear on the question the studies tend to actually show negative effects when the person is aware that others are praying for them. The hypothesis is that their failure to get better causes some depression and possibly a weakening of the natural immune system.

This is a surprising result which pretty strongly shows that, not only is intercessory prayer ineffective, but that the wrong kinds of wishful thinking are actually harmful as well.

I think that understanding this aspect of the failure of prayer is an important step in coming to grips with reality and rejecting millennia old superstitions.

The second stage of understanding comes when you can stop seeing every good thing that happens as a result of God's actions while ignoring every bad thing that happens. The Chilean miners are a perfect result of this blindness in action. Yes, it is wonderful that the Chilean miners were able to be pulled out, but what about the dozens of other people in the mining profession that died in the line of duty during that same process? And why trap them in the first place?

If you look more closely you can see that in every single one of these cases there is always a natural explanation (and in future articles I will discuss why natural explanations do not give credit to a theistic, personal God -- as we already see is the case of intercessory prayer).


  1. From the study at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16569567

    Intercessory prayer itself had no effect on complication-free recovery from CABG, but certainty of receiving intercessory prayer was associated with a higher incidence of complications

  2. Article from Psychology Today on Confirmation Bias: