Outcomes of intercessory prayer for those who are ill: Scientific and pastoral perspectives

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Intercessory prayer for those who are ill is a common religious practice not only by individuals but also by communities of faith. Although such prayer has much religious meaning, is there scientific evidence that it brings about the outcomes for which it asks? The scientific literature investigating the efficacy of intercessory prayer for the ill and the difficulties in putting prayer to scientific scrutiny is explored in this article. Overall, studies have yielded mixed results and have been criticized (on a scientific basis) as having methodological flaws such as small sample size, varied endpoints, varied definitions of prayer, and varied expertise of "intercessors." Such studies have also been critiqued on metaphysical and religious grounds, namely, that God's actions cannot (and should not be) subjected to scientific scrutiny. It is asserted by some, that men possess the faculty of obtaining results over which they have little or no direct personal control, by means of devout and earnest prayer, while others doubt the truth of this assertion. The question regards a matter of fact, that has to be determined by observation and not by authority, and it is one that appears to be a very suitable topic for statistical inquiry.... Are prayers answered or are they not...? Do sick persons who pray or are prayed for, recover on the average more rapidly than others?

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-137
Number of pages13
JournalLinacre Quarterly
Volume78
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Religion
Literature
Prayer
Sample Size
Observation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Philosophy

Cite this

Outcomes of intercessory prayer for those who are ill : Scientific and pastoral perspectives. / Fosarelli, Patricia D.

In: Linacre Quarterly, Vol. 78, No. 2, 05.2011, p. 125-137.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{1ef0cdab1f67422783e6caf583db7486,
title = "Outcomes of intercessory prayer for those who are ill: Scientific and pastoral perspectives",
abstract = "Intercessory prayer for those who are ill is a common religious practice not only by individuals but also by communities of faith. Although such prayer has much religious meaning, is there scientific evidence that it brings about the outcomes for which it asks? The scientific literature investigating the efficacy of intercessory prayer for the ill and the difficulties in putting prayer to scientific scrutiny is explored in this article. Overall, studies have yielded mixed results and have been criticized (on a scientific basis) as having methodological flaws such as small sample size, varied endpoints, varied definitions of prayer, and varied expertise of {"}intercessors.{"} Such studies have also been critiqued on metaphysical and religious grounds, namely, that God's actions cannot (and should not be) subjected to scientific scrutiny. It is asserted by some, that men possess the faculty of obtaining results over which they have little or no direct personal control, by means of devout and earnest prayer, while others doubt the truth of this assertion. The question regards a matter of fact, that has to be determined by observation and not by authority, and it is one that appears to be a very suitable topic for statistical inquiry.... Are prayers answered or are they not...? Do sick persons who pray or are prayed for, recover on the average more rapidly than others?",
author = "Fosarelli, {Patricia D.}",
year = "2011",
month = "5",
doi = "10.1179/002436311803888384",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "78",
pages = "125--137",
journal = "The Linacre quarterly",
issn = "0024-3639",
publisher = "Chiyoda Kaihatsu Kabushiki Kaisha",
number = "2",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Outcomes of intercessory prayer for those who are ill

T2 - Scientific and pastoral perspectives

AU - Fosarelli, Patricia D.

PY - 2011/5

Y1 - 2011/5

N2 - Intercessory prayer for those who are ill is a common religious practice not only by individuals but also by communities of faith. Although such prayer has much religious meaning, is there scientific evidence that it brings about the outcomes for which it asks? The scientific literature investigating the efficacy of intercessory prayer for the ill and the difficulties in putting prayer to scientific scrutiny is explored in this article. Overall, studies have yielded mixed results and have been criticized (on a scientific basis) as having methodological flaws such as small sample size, varied endpoints, varied definitions of prayer, and varied expertise of "intercessors." Such studies have also been critiqued on metaphysical and religious grounds, namely, that God's actions cannot (and should not be) subjected to scientific scrutiny. It is asserted by some, that men possess the faculty of obtaining results over which they have little or no direct personal control, by means of devout and earnest prayer, while others doubt the truth of this assertion. The question regards a matter of fact, that has to be determined by observation and not by authority, and it is one that appears to be a very suitable topic for statistical inquiry.... Are prayers answered or are they not...? Do sick persons who pray or are prayed for, recover on the average more rapidly than others?

AB - Intercessory prayer for those who are ill is a common religious practice not only by individuals but also by communities of faith. Although such prayer has much religious meaning, is there scientific evidence that it brings about the outcomes for which it asks? The scientific literature investigating the efficacy of intercessory prayer for the ill and the difficulties in putting prayer to scientific scrutiny is explored in this article. Overall, studies have yielded mixed results and have been criticized (on a scientific basis) as having methodological flaws such as small sample size, varied endpoints, varied definitions of prayer, and varied expertise of "intercessors." Such studies have also been critiqued on metaphysical and religious grounds, namely, that God's actions cannot (and should not be) subjected to scientific scrutiny. It is asserted by some, that men possess the faculty of obtaining results over which they have little or no direct personal control, by means of devout and earnest prayer, while others doubt the truth of this assertion. The question regards a matter of fact, that has to be determined by observation and not by authority, and it is one that appears to be a very suitable topic for statistical inquiry.... Are prayers answered or are they not...? Do sick persons who pray or are prayed for, recover on the average more rapidly than others?

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84887316175&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84887316175&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1179/002436311803888384

DO - 10.1179/002436311803888384

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:84887316175

VL - 78

SP - 125

EP - 137

JO - The Linacre quarterly

JF - The Linacre quarterly

SN - 0024-3639

IS - 2

ER -