Studying prayer

This blog post was “inspired” as a reaction to a comment on the description of research by one Candy Gunther Brown, one example of which is described at the following link: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/testing-prayer/201303/clinical-trials-1

The one study they did was with people who had healing prayer, and there were a couple of examples she gave of dramatic mesaurable improvements in eyesight and hearing.

The commenter suggested a control group getting a “sham treatment”. As if going from 20/400 vision to 20/40 and only a healing prayer in between is not of any significance.

With something like this, in matters of faith, sham treatments are very hard to pin down.

As a Bible believer, and one who has met many who have been healed through prayer, and worked in a mission work founded by the son of one who had been healed and who walked around as normal with two missing vertebrae (medically examined)… I whole-heartedly applaud this effort.

I started to suggest that Ms. Brown could study people who’ve been “healed” by sham evangelists –I could suggest some that I despise (and surely God does too), but there are two major complicating factors there.

One is, that often with healing evangelists, sham or not, the ones who go there have at least some measure of faith themselves, many of them receiving healing in spite of the “sham” and better than the placebo effect. The reason is that their faith in God’s healing power, and in the “gift of healing” in general, is recognized and often “honored” in reality.

Another factor to consider in looking for sham evangelists is expressed in the Bible verse, “The gifts of God are without repentance” (Romans 11:9). This means that some people are given “gifts of the spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:7-10) during their “non-sham” time in the past. Such a one might “backslide”, might get cynical, or whatever, and his “ministry” becomes a “sham” and his prayers an abomination, but the special measure we understand as a “gift of healing” is not revoked, it is “without repentance”, for God’s own reasons.

Might I suggest that the general remission and non-remission rates among the entire population can serve as a “control group”, at least to study the scenarios of “with prayer” and “without prayer”.

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