Passage 62 Prayer Help
Researchers in the United States have shown that prayer
may help speed the recovery of people with heart problems.
The researchers found that heart patients did better
when someone was praying for them.
They say the patients who were the subjects of prayer
generally needed less medicine and recovered more quickly.
The findings were reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
The study was supervised by researchers at the Mid-America Herat Institute
at Saint Luke's Hospital in Kansas City,Missouri.
It involved almost 1,000 people who were admitted to the hospital
for serious heart problems.
All of the patients in the study received the usual medical care.
The researchers secretly divided the patients into two groups.
Members of prayer groups prayed every day for four weeks
for the recovery of some of the patients.
The prayer groups were told nothing about the patients
they were praying for other than their first names and that they were sick.
No one was asked to pray for the other patients.
None of the patients or their doctors
knew about the study or that people were praying for some of the patients.
Heart researcher William Harris helped organize the study.
He identified thirty-five different ways
to measure the condition of the patients.
Mister Harris says the patients who were prayed for
had about 10% fewer problems than the other patients.
The researchers say their findings suggest that prayer
might be an effective addition to traditional medical care.
This was not the first study to reach such findings.
A study crried out at San Francisco General Hospital in California
in 1988 had similar results.
However,Herbert Benson of the Harvard Medical School in Cambridge
Massachusetts criticized the two studies.
Doctor Benson said the two studies used questionable methods.
He said other studies have found no improvement
in patients as a result of prayer.
Harold Koenig of the Duke University School of Medicine
has supervised several studies on the effect of spiritual beliefs on health.
He said the findings of the new study are very important.
However,he admitted that the findings will be questioned.
Doctor Koenig said he is not sure how many doctors
will accept the importance of prayer.