Please Don't Pray for Me

If someone asks if I mind, I generally just chuckle and say, "Hey, do whatchyagotta." Maybe I'll even add a "thanks" for thinkin' of me, dependin' 'pon who it is.

I'm thinkin' I might be changin' that response, at least some of the time.
Here's more evidence against the efficacy of prayer. THAT should get you chucklin' on your own.

I'm sure we've all seen, or at least heard about, this study by now,* and this writer has an apropriate tie-in.
Wednesday, April 5, 2006
The power of prayer and polls


Remember when President Bush's public approval ratings were still passable, he feigned ignorance of polls? In case memory fails you, here's a reminder from a 2004 White House media briefing by press secretary Scott McClellan:

"Mr. McClellan: (The president) doesn't make decisions based on polls. ... He makes decisions based on what is right for the American people."

More recently, Bush's long-gone public-approval crescendo has crashed. So the president and his supporters have shifted from ignoring the polls to discrediting them. And when that doesn't work, they blame the liberal media for purposefully sabotaging public support for the president's policies.

Ignore, discredit, blame. I was reminded of that tripartite tactic late last week, when a study published in the American Heart Journal revealed that prayer from others fails to help recovering heart bypass patients avoid complications from surgery. What's worse, when those same heart patients are made aware an outsider is soliciting celestial support in their behalf, they actually fare worse than if they believe no outsider is channeling for them at all.

Researchers studied a total of 1,800 patients at six hospitals nationwide, in the largest study ever of intercessory (third-party) prayer. Patients were randomly sorted into three groups. The first group was prayed for by others. A second group had no one soliciting deific intervention. The third group was informed people were praying for them. None of the patients in the first two groups knew whether people were praying for them.

The earthly results were as follows: Among patients who didn't know they were the object of rapturous requisition, 51 percent to 52 percent had post-surgical complications. A statistically distinct 59 percent of those who knew others were praying for them suffered complications.

Don't get me wrong. I'm a big believer in mind over matter. Stress and biochemistry possess a limitless (some would say omniscient) influence on health, healing and recovery that science has yet to understand or to harness in full. But to jump from one's innate ability to change one's own body chemistry to a third party's ability to channel God's will in a stranger's behalf is, well, quite a leap of faith.

Unwilling (as one might expect them to be) to allow science to trump fiction, many religious leaders lashed out at the survey. The methodology was inadequate. The results are meaningless. USA Today reported, "Religious leaders question whether the prayers were appropriately worded and whether those praying were really moved by the spirit." In other words: ignore, discredit, blame.

The results of this study don't surprise me. If someone tells me a third party I don't even know is praying for me, I quickly figure out I must be worse off than I had previously imagined or I wouldn't need his or her help. I stress out and complications are much more likely to ensue.

Given the power of these results to empty pews, neither does the angry reaction from clergy come as any surprise. Nonetheless, the next time I get sick and someone says, "I'll pray for you," I'll respond: "Do me a favor and please don't. I'd like my chances for recovery to be as high as possible."

Bonnie Erbe is a TV host and writes this column for Scripps Howard News Service. E-mail

That's all. I just really enjoyed readin' it.

* Hope y'all like the irony (sheesh! Today's chock full o' that!) of the site I chose for that link. {-;


  1. Is it not tenable that God may be just out of sensible reach, so that people will not rush to him for their own selfish purposes? To come to him, in faith, as the evidence of things unseen?

    Think about it...

  2. Sure it is!

    'Tis why I ends so many comments, Ramen!

    Ya never know, right?

    But what if we can know and are too scared to find out?. Then what?

    I think about that as well.

  3. I loved it. I'm glad you are here always finding was to inspire me and my indiviuality. We were asked to pray for someone's grandpa a while back and I told B just to be nice we'd do it our way. We put our hands in and on the break we said Grandpa. B thought it was kind of unsympathetic but I said they didn't care to assume we had those beliefs and I think it is the thought that counts anyway.

  4. And what better thought could there be?


    He's gonna feel how he's gonna feel. The better those around him feel, well, atmosphere is the air we breath, eh.
    (dang, but that was 'shallow-water' deep... lol)

    I'm glad you keep leavin' such wonderful comments Tonya.


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