Religion/ Spirituality

Does it matter where you pray?

“When people feel that they have a serious need for healing, they are willing to try almost anything,” say researchers at Indiana University Bloomington.

Anchored by this skeptical point of view, these researchers studied the relationship between response to prayer and the proximity to the person being prayed for.

First, the details.

  • 24 consecutive Mozambican residents with impaired hearing and/or vision received proximal intercessory prayer interventions.
    • Intercessory prayer is the act of praying on behalf of others.
  • An audiometer and vision charts to evaluate hearing and vision.

And, the results.

  • There were significant improvements in auditory and visual function.
    • 2 patients with impaired hearing reduced the threshold at which they could detect sound by 50 decibels.
    • 3 patients had their tested vision improve from 20/400 or worse to 20/80 or better.

The bottom line?

Previous studies focused on distant intercessory prayer, say the authors.

After comparing these results to earlier studies, they concluded, “The magnitude of measured effects exceeds that reported in previous suggestion and hypnosis studies.”

These researchers would have us believe that the greater success they measured was related to being close to the persons being prayed for.

This suggests that the Lord — the creator of the universe, and the alpha and omega — has a hearing problem. Or perhaps the Lord has difficulty finding the subject of the prayer when the prayor is too far from the prayee.

It’s a big world out there!

Or perhaps it’s just a poorly designed (small population, no random allocation to treatment, no placebo control group, no attempt to blind the researchers) study conducted by people who simply don’t know enough to make an informed objective decision.

It would be almost humorous except for the fact that researchers from the university’s Department of Religious Studies conducted this flawed study.

Background on intercessory prayer can be found here. Several passages from the Bible are referenced, and none of them suggest that proximity to the person prayed for is important.

8/8/10 18:44 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.