The Study of Healing Prayer

The Study of Healing Prayer
Ethical and Practical Questions
by Elizabeth Barrette 

While most matters of healing lie outside my area of expertise, I have a perennial interest in prayer and liturgy. Healing prayers appear in most if not all religions. Some are specific, others general; some come from human inspiration, while others are attributed to the Divine. My most recent exploration of healing prayer began with the November-December 2001 issue of The Religious Language Newsletter.1

This issue mentioned a double-blind study about the effects of healing prayer in reproductive medicine, in which 50% of the women prayed for conceived, compared with 26% of the control group. Neither the women nor any of the medical staff involved in their care even knew that a study was being conducted. That reference launched a discussion which has continued for months as various readers submitted references to additional studies, personal arguments, and other relevant tidbits. About the same time, I got my hands on a couple of review copies that covered similar ground.2 With the "Healing Paths" issue of PanGaia coming up, I decided to explore the matter in more detail.

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