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Is there any evidence that prayer affects your health

01:00 Mon 18th Mar 2002 |

asks pathfinder:
Yes, there is. There have been quite few clinical trials to test the power of intercessory prayer or distant healing - where other people pray for someone's wellbeing - and the results have been remarkable.

Q. What sort of trials
One involved 40 severely ill US Aids patients who were given normal care, but half were prayed for. Six months later, the group which had been given distant healing had significantly fewer new Aids-related illnesses and needed less medical attention the control group.

Another study found that patients who received alternative therapy following angioplasty were less likely to suffer complications. And those who had been prayed for had the greatest success rate; patients were 50-100% less likely to have complications after this dangerous surgery.

And women in South Korea who were having IVF treatment were prayed for by groups of people from other countries. After four months, half of those who were being prayed for became pregnant, compared to 26% of the control group.

Q. How does it work
There's no explanation why those who don't know they're being prayed for do so well.

Q. Do you have to be religious for it to work
Not at all. Research shows that it works whether you are religious or not. And if you are religious, it doesn't matter what denomination you are.

Q. Can you pray for yourself
There's no evidence that it works because all the studies so far are based around groups of people who are prayed for by groups of other people. However, a study published in the British Medical Journal last year found that reciting Ave Maria in Latin and yoga mantras both had significant cardiovascular effects and induced a sense of calm and wellbeing.

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By Sheena Miller

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